Ghosts of the Past: Anti-Black Aesthetics and the Ruse of Historical Accuracy in the Sherlock Holmes Video Game Series

Date / Time

April 18, 2024

12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Details and registration.

Join the Women’s Leadership and Resource Center for a talk by Dez Brown exploring the anti-Black aesthetics within three popular video games in the “Sherlock Holmes” series and their effects on Black gamers.

Historically, the Black community has been largely ostracized from on-screen representation in the video game genre. On-screen inclusion was limited to sparse portrayals of anti-Black, one-dimensional caricatures. In recent years, there has been a noted increase in the prominence of Black characters due to demands for authentic and multifaceted Black life in this genre; however, this is often solely through narratives of slavery, violence and domination underneath the guise of historical accuracy.

In this presentation, Dr. Brown will discuss the anti-Black aesthetics illustrated within three popular video games in the “Sherlock Holmes” series: “Crimes and Punishments” (2014), “The Devil’s Daughter” (2016), and “Chapter One” (2021). They will consider the implications of historical accuracy used as a moral impetus to showcase Black life and their effects on Black gamers. In conversation with Jared Sexton, Saidiya Hartman and other scholars in the fields of Afropessimism and Black feminism, they will argue that these violent representations of Black people are the result of the concurrent history of slavery in the U.S. as well as the spectacle of Black suffering in the U.S. and abroad.

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