Grand Theft Auto characters (YouTube)

According to a study in the latest issue of the New Review of Hypermedia and Multimedia, black gamers suffer racial abuse "on a daily basis" while using Microsoft's online gaming platform, Xbox Live, the Guardian reports. Researchers followed a group of African Americans who made their race identifiable to other players, and found that their interactions were characterized by "the overt racism that used to permeate our society."

Why the return to explicit racism here, of all places? Study authors blame the white male hegemony of the gaming industry, arguing that black players are seen as "deviant" in a context that otherwise "perpetuate[s] a myth of white male uniformity."

According to the research, most of the culprits "view their behavior as annoying ‚ÄĒ not racist." One, when confronted about using the n-word, explained: "It's just a stupid word. I just say it to f‚ÄĒk with people."¬†

So much for a pleasant escape from the stress of daily life. It seems when it comes to race, power and ignorance, the fantasy world of gaming is all too real.

Read more at the Guardian.