Kishonna Gray, Women’s and Gender Studies and CMS/Writing

[My research] will provide a much needed conceptual framework to situate contemporary console video games. By providing gaming, entertainment, socialization, and other forms of interaction, we must rethink the limited narrative of ‘console game’ and position them within our convergent culture.

KISHONNA GRAY - From interview with Crimcast


NYMG Episode 107: Chatting with Kishonna Gray

NYMG Episode 107: Chatting with Kishonna Gray

Visiting Assistant Professor 2016-2017
Hosted by the Department of Women's and Gender Studies and the MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing Program

Kishonna Gray is founding Director of the Critical Gaming Lab at Eastern Kentucky University, as well as faculty in the School of Justice Studies, African/African-American Studies, & Women & Gender Studies.

Research interests: Identity, Performance, & New Media; Social Inequalities in Virtual Gaming Communities; Modern Racism and Immigration Discourse

2016-2017 Scholars

School of Justice Studies Critical Gaming Lab

Assistant Professor Kishonna Gray discusses racism & sexism in today's video games and her studies with students in the School of Justice Studies Critical Gaming Lab. [March 17, 2015]


Profile from MIT Urban Planning

Kishonna L. Gray is founding Director of the Critical Gaming Lab at Eastern Kentucky University, where she is also a member of the faculty in the School of Justice Studies, African/African-American Studies, & Women & Gender Studies.  Her work broadly intersects identity and new media although she has a particular focus on gaming.

Gray earned an M.S. in Justice Studies in 2007 from the School of Justice at Eastern Kentucky University. Her Master's project used critical discourse analysis to examine the racialized constructions of Black victims post-hurricane Katrina. In 2011, she earned a Ph.D. in Justice Studies, with a concentration in Media, Technology, & Culture, from the School of Social Transformation at Arizona State University. Her dissertation was titled "Deviant Bodies Resisting Online: Examining the Intersecting Realities of Women of Color in Xbox Live".

Gray's most recent book, Race, Gender, & Deviance in Xbox Live (Routledge, 2014), provides a much-needed theoretical framework for examining deviant behavior and deviant bodies within that virtual gaming community.  Her work has been featured in public outlets such as the Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and SociologyAda: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, Bulletin of Science, Technology, & Society, New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, Information, Communication, & Society, among others.  Her work has also been featured in the LA Times, Paste Magazine, Engadget, The Guardian, BET, and Blavity.

Gray is a featured blogger and podcaster with “Not Your Mama’s Gamer” (

She also actively blogs on her own websites at and at

Follow her on Twitter @DrGrayThaPhx and the Critical Gaming Lab @CriticalGameLab.

The Department of Women's and Gender Studies, as well as the MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing Program, will host Gray as a 2016-2017 MIT MLK Visiting Assistant Professor.

Race, Gender, and Deviance in Xbox Live-k-gray


Race, Gender, & Deviance in Xbox Live: Theoretical Perspectives from the Virtual Margins. Foreword by David J. Leonard. Routledge, 2014.



Video Games, Culture, & Justice. With David J. Leonard & Andre Brock. Prospectus in Development for University of Minnesota Press (forthcoming).

Gender & Games Trilogy: Women’s Studies VolumeWith Gerald Voorhees & Emma Vossen. Palgrave (forthcoming 2016).

Perspectives on Justice (2nd ed.). With Doris Marie Provine, Reshawna Chapple, Michael Walker, & Ophir Sefiha. Kendall Hunt, 2011.



Gray, K. L., & Huang, W. (2015). More than addiction: Examining the role of anonymity, endless narrative, and socialization in prolonged gaming and instant messaging practices. Journal of Comparative Research in Anthropology and Sociology, 6(1): 133-147.

Gray, K.L. (2013) Collective organizing, individual resistance, or asshole griefers? An ethnographic analysis of women of color in Xbox Live. Ada: A Journal of Gender, New Media, and Technology, No.2.

Gray, K.L. (2013) Diffusion of innovation theory and Xbox Live: Examining minority gamers responses and rate of adoption to changes in Xbox Live. Bulletin of Science, Technology, & Society, 32(6): 463-470.

Gray, K.L. & Raza, A.E. (2012). Racism in the colorblind era: Examining the mediated responses to Arizona SB1070. Border-Lines: Journal of the Latino Research Center, Volume VI: 7-27.

*Gray, K.L. (2012) Deviant bodies, stigmatized identities, and racist acts: Examining the experiences of African-American gamers in Xbox Live. Special Issue: Cultures in Virtual Worlds, New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, 18(4): 261-276.
*Most Read Article

Gray, K.L. (2012). Intersecting oppressions and online communities: Examining the experiences of women of color in Xbox Live. Information, Communication, & Society, 15(3): 411-428.

Cheong, P.H. & Gray, K.L. (2011) Mediated intercultural dialectics: Identity perceptions and performances in virtual worlds. Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, 4(4): 265-271.

Cavender, G., Gray, K., & Miller, K. (2010). Enron’s perp walk: Status degradation ceremonies as narrative. Crime, Media, Culture, 6(3): 1-16



Gray, K.L. “Race, gender, & virtual inequality: Exploring the liberatory ‘potential of Black cyberfeminist theory”. In Lind, R. (Ed). Produsing Theory 2.0: The Intersection of Audiences and Production in a Digital World (Volume 2). New York: Peter Lang. 2015.

Gray, K.L. “Cultural production and digital resilience: Examining female gamers’ use of social media to participate in video game culture.” In A. Trier-Bieniek (Ed), Fan Girls and the Media: Creating Characters, Consuming Culture. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, pp. 85-100. 2015.

Gray, K.L. “Discriminatory attitudes against Latin@s.” In The Encyclopedia of Diversity and Social Justice. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield. 2014.



Gray, K.L. & Mazurek, J. (forthcoming) “Visualizing blackness – racializing gaming: Social inequalities in virtual gaming communities.” In Brown, M & Carrabine, E. (Eds). The Routledge International Handbook of Visual Criminology. Taylor & Francis.

Gray, K.L. (forthcoming) “‘They’re just too urban’: Cultural production, colorblindness, and racialized discourse surrounding Black gamers streaming on Twitch.” In Daniels, J., Gregory, K., & Cottom, T.M. (Eds). Digital Sociologies, University of Bristol: Policy Press.

Gray, K.L. (forthcoming) “Gendered alliances, racialized discords: Examining the contentious relationship among women in Xbox Live.” In Kafai, Y., Tynes, B. & Richard, G. (eds). Diversifying Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Race and Gender in Gaming.

Gray, K.L. “Race and the internet”. (forthcoming) In Campbell, C (Ed). The Routledge Companion to Race and Media. New York, NY: Routledge.

Richard, G.T. & Gray, K.L. (under review). Gendered play, racialized reality: Black cyberfeminism, inclusive communities of practice and the intersections of learning in gaming.” Frontiers: Journal of Women’s Studies Special Issue, Women Digitizing Revolution: Race, Gender and the Technological Turn, Guest Editors Anna Everett and Lisa Nakamura.

Gray, K.L. & Nelson, B.C. (Submitted) One Body – One Tweet: Examining the death of Mike Brown as contemporary lynching in the digital era. Special Issue on Ferguson. Berkeley Journal of Sociology.


#Misogynoir, #SolidarityIsForWhiteWomen, and other forms of Black Digital Feminisms
Department of Women & Gender Studies;
Comparative Media Studies/Writing Program
December 8, 2015
Women of color have a variety of responses when employing digital technologies for empowerment. New communication technologies have expanded the opportunities and potential for marginalized communities to mobilize in this context counter to the dominant, mainstream media.


Black Lives Matter Activism Through Blogging, Gaming, Hashtags, and Citizen Journalism
MIT Center for Civic Media
October 22, 2015

This is a liveblog from the "#BlackLivesMatter: At the Intersection of Racial Politics and Digital Activism" panel at AoIR16 on October 22, 2015 in Phoenix, AZ. 

This panel features four anti-racist, feminist scholars, showcasing how we as researchers take on the role of documenting and amplifying the work that activists are doing already online. Kishonna L. Gray talks about activist gaming in service to Blacks Lives Matter.

Activist Gaming: What Might Activist Gaming Look Like
by Kishonna L. Gray

Social media is a form of signifying black racial identity that indexes black racial culture. It’s important to understand how this is expressed in different ways online. What does this look when it extends into video games as alternative form of activism? How can video games further the causes of marginalized communities?

Video game activism requires the mobilization of both users and designers. Activism is not just rooted in game development. An activist orientation in video gaming will require: Gamers for Change, Game Developers for Change, and Game Culture for Change.

Using Twitch, #Spawn4Me ran a live tele-a-thin style stream to crowd fund money in support of families affected by police brutality. They streamed constantly until they had hit their fundraising goals. The effort was unique mobilization of black gamers, but also received backlash from others arguing that Twitch was not a place to do this activism.

Xbox Live forums were also a place of activism for both #gamergate and Black Lives Matter among female gamers, who carve out their own communities there. The injection of Black Lives Matter discussion and organization was controversial, provoking the ire of female gamers who thought the space should be used for activism on Black Lives Matter, which felt like a rejection of women of color in gaming.

Gray asserts that gaming culture and infrastructure is an extension of systemic racist policies and practices that oppress gamers of color. She feels the whole community has a responsibility to respond to issues of racism and develop solutions to these problems. This includes game companies themselves as well as gamers and game developers. They all need to work toward a new, inclusive environment. Only by strengthening the entire ecosystem can activism transform these spaces in progressive directions.