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Problematizing cultural appropriation

Vasalou, A; Khaled, R; Gooch, D; Benton, L; (2014) Problematizing cultural appropriation. In: Nacke, LE and Graham, TCN, (eds.) CHI PLAY '14: Proceedings of the first ACM SIGCHI annual symposium on Computer-human interaction in play. (pp. pp. 267-276). Association for Computing Machinery (ACM): New York, NY, United States. Green open access

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Cultural appropriation in games entails the taking of knowledge, artifacts or expression from a culture and recontextualizing it within game structures. While cultural appropriation is a pervasive practice in games, little attention has been given to the ethical issues that emerge from such practices with regards to how culture is portrayed. This paper problematizes cultural appropriation in the context of a serious game for children inspired by Día de los Muertos, a Mexican festival focused on remembrance of the dead. Taking a research through design approach, we demonstrate that recontextualised cultural elements can retain their basic, original meaning. However, we also find that cultural appropriation is inevitable and its ethical implications can be far reaching. In our context, ethical concerns arose as a result of children's beliefs that death affects prominent others and their destructive ways of coping with death. We argue that revealing emergent ethical concerns is imperative before deciding how and in what way to encourage culturally authentic narratives.

Type: Proceedings paper
Title: Problematizing cultural appropriation
Event: Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI)
ISBN-13: 9781450330145
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1145/2658537.2658689
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/2658537.2658689
Language: English
Additional information: ACM New York, NY, USA © 2014.
Keywords: cultural appropriation; game narrative; research through design; serious games; death; children
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Education > UCL Institute of Education > IOE - Culture, Communication and Media
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1474921
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