When forming a classroom curriculum, it is very important that that curriculum does not force the agenda of anyone. By definition, a curriculum is “the subjects comprising a course of study in a school or college.” Not vilified propaganda driven exclamations to force students to lean one way with their thoughts.
The Anti Defamation League publishes a lot of studies to shed light on a vast array of subjects such as why gaming matters in education and publications on racism that explore using games to promote hate
Looking at their mission statement, you’d have an understanding of what they are all about.
According to their website, The Anti-Defamation League was founded in 1913 “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all. ADL says they fight anti-Semitism and all forms of bigotry, defends democratic ideals and protects civil rights for all.
When the ADL publishes a curriculum that is extremely bias and misrepresenting the video game industry,, it’s clear that they didn’t follow their mission statement.
Upon first glance of the description for this extremely inaccurate and one sided curriculum, the poorly researched sentences take center stage. High School aged youth will learn various lies such as “video games don’t have a good track record when it comes to positively including girls and women,” learn about the harassment of critics, mainly, Anita Sarkeesian, which is clearly not a study presenting equal sides, and, most importantly, the poorly researched assertion that video game characters are overly sexualised.
That’s not all. Students are subtly fed a conclusion before the curriculum ends. At one point in the curriculum students must place the below statements around the room. There isn’t a counter-statement to any of the leading sentiments such as “I have witnessed sexism in video games”, either. Students can’t choose an a posing statement.
Students also must contend with one sided phrasing, when they have to select true statements and place a sticker underneath the statements the student deems to be true. Anita Sarkeesian, who is the soul author, forces students to say statements such as “the People have said or done sexist things to me through video game interaction. I believe video games can have a negative effect on attitudes and perspectives in general. I believe video games can perpetuate sexism.”
The curriculum then instructs students to answer the question, “In what ways does sexism exist in video games?” without providing a counter question or viewpoint.
The ADL has not commented as of yet on why this curriculum misrepresented gamers and the gaming industry. Others are citing statistics that say that video games don’t perpetuate misogyny to go alongside the claim that video games are not misogynistic.
Even though Anita is on record saying that video games do perpetuate misogyny, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc has a study that says otherwise.
A study entitled CYBERPSYCHOLOGY, BEHAVIOR, AND SOCIAL NETWORKING has published the results of a three year longitudinal assessment addressing the relationship between video game use and sexist attitudes, that has been debunked. Video games don’t cause sexism, the study says.
More prudent and in depth research can turn up some great games with great female representation. Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic, among many others, have strong and diverse characters with their own thoughts and feelings that shape them as a character. Juhani, one of the main characters of Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic is not only a woman with her own grief but she is also a bisexual who has faced her own form of hardship and xenophobic discrimination. Juhani was sold into slavery after the death of her parents in order to pay off their debts, to boot, if you really want to talk about misogyny.
The curriculum does not offer differing resources, either. Resources and more reading point to articles that only enforce that women are being harassed. What’s really shocking is the number of articles that point to incidences where it’s illustrated that Anita has been attacked and the lack of articles about or by women who actually work in the industry
In an age where rampant political messages shower the Internet with unfounded claims and false truths, it is astonishing that an academic platform such as the ADL has not fully researched and fact checked, in addition to enlisting the point of view of women who actively work in the video game industry or consulting female gamers or other feminists. Research and proper curriculum creation should never replace agenda driven messages disguised as classroom studies. Never.