The Urban Review

, Volume 50, Issue 3, pp 345–362 | Cite as

Simulating Oppression: Digital Gaming, Race and the Education of African American Children

  • Melanie M. AcostaEmail author
  • André R. Denham


Educational game designers and educators are using digital games as a platform for teaching academic content, including multicultural curriculum. However, it is unclear how well digital game-based learning can coexist with the goals of multicultural education for the purpose of meeting the needs of African American children. In this essay, we raise serious questions about the use of digital games to teach about social oppression in ways that privilege the psychological well-being of African American children. We argue that digital games that intend to recreate histories of racial oppression can be harmful to African American children if they reproduce popular and problematic notions of indigenous lives and experiences. We illuminate some of the dangers of such digital games through a preliminary exploration of one digital game designed to teach about facets of African American enslavement. Our essay concludes with recommendations for culturally relevant digital game-based learning design and instruction.


Digital game-based learning Multicultural education African American children Culturally relevant curriculum 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Curriculum and InstructionUniversity of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Educational Leadership, Policy, and Technology StudiesUniversity of AlabamaTuscaloosaUSA

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