Video Games, Campus Culture, and Identity topic of Nov. 28 Common Reading Lecture

“The Privilege to Play: Video Games, Campus Culture, and Identity,” a Washington State University Common Reading Program lecture by professor David Leonard at 5:00 p.m. on Tues., Nov. 28 in Todd 116. The event is free and open to the public.

This talk will examine how both video games and universities sell “experiences” that not only privilege and empower certain identities and experience, but also sell a world that erases, obscures, and finds pleasure in an imagined “Other.” Both games and college create worlds of tourism, selling not simply an experience of fun and excitement but one in which joy and pleasure are derived through particular understandings of race, gender, sexuality.

Highlighting the ways that video games and America’s historically white colleges and universities create experiences that center the needs and pleasure of white male gamers/students, this talk focuses on how these experiences feed off dominant racial and gendered stereotypes.

Leonard is a professor in the department of critical culture, gender, and race studies at WSU. He researches the continued significance of race in popular culture, the structures of politics, and society at large. Leonard wrote several books on the topic and consistently contributes to a variety of publications.

The WSU-wide common reading program is exploring the theme of “frontiers of technology, health, and society.” This year’s book, Ready Player One, highlights applications of technology in a variety of fields but also encourages exploration into ethical dilemmas and changing senses of identity that arise in an increasingly digital world.

The Common Reading Program began in Pullman in 2006-2007 to help students, their teachers, and the community better engage in academically centered critical thinking, communication, research and learning around a body of shared information presented in a single, specially selected book.

The Common Reading program is currently accepting book nominations for the 2018-19 academic year. For more information about the Common Reading program, nominating a book, this year’s book, and upcoming events visit


Karen Weathermon, WSU Common Reading Program co-director, WSU Undergraduate Education, 509-335-5488,

Emma Epperly, Communications and Marketing Associate, WSU Undergraduate Education, 509-335-9458,