University of Michigan prof John Cheney-Lippold and Oakland University prof Sam Srauy argued in a study that “realism — as a design strategy — can invite platform racism into seemingly neutral code,” according to Campus Reform.
EA Sports, the developer for the FIFA video game, uses data reviewers who watch real-life soccer players and then assign scores to these players’ in-game avatars. The study’s co-authors found that these reviewers rated black athletes as stronger and more aggressive than white or Hispanic ones on average.
The professors said “Black and Latino characters tend to be overly represented in sports related video games. Moreover, this overrepresentation tends to be [in] avenues where white fantasy of supposedly extraordinary black physical ability is expressed and exploited for white enjoyment.”
Supposedly extraordinary? Are you telling me that there might be a reason other than physical prowess for why black athletes are overrepresented in some sports like basketball and football? Hey, maybe I’m a victim of discrimination.
So while John and Sam took the higher aggression and strength scores for black athletes as a sign of racism in FIFA, they were a bit surprised to find how the data reviewers scored athletes for another stat: vision, which was a stand-in for intelligence and knowledge of soccer.
They said “The mean vision score for blacks was significantly lower than either whites or Latinos. However, there was no statistically significant difference between the vision scores of whites and Latinos,” something they argued “runs contradictory to the predominant racist belief.”