Antiracism, Games, and Immersive Media

Racism, and related forms of discrimination, manifests in a variety of contexts–video games and immersive environments are no exception. In the MIT Virtuality/IDSS Antiracism, Games, and Immersive Media vertical, we harness the power of games and immersive environments to study and combat racist behaviors, phenomena, and systems in video games and immersive experiences. We address racial bias and discrimination in and through virtual worlds and the virtual identities that inhabit them. We design and develop interactive experiences to support reflection, understanding, and changing of social ills such as racial bias to help individuals and institutions better recognize and positively intervene in the face of racism–not just in virtual worlds but in the physical world as well.

Published work

  1. C. Yildirim and D. F. Harrell, “On the Plane: A Roleplaying Game for Simulating Ingroup-Outgroup Biases in Virtual Reality,” 2022 IEEE International Conference on Artificial Intelligence and Virtual Reality (AIVR), CA, USA, 2022, pp. 207-209, doi: 10.1109/AIVR56993.2022.00041.


AI, Avatars, and Augmented Reality

Data Nation

Professor D. Fox Harrell dives into the world of augmented and virtual reality on the IDSS podcast Data Nation. Is the world ready for what’s coming? Will augmented reality and virtual reality be a force for good or for evil, and what can you do to prepare yourself?

In new VR, role-playing gives insight into racism // Axios

Two iPads displaying a girl wearing a hijab seated on a plane are on either side of an image of a plane in flight.

Axios lists “On the Plane,” developed by the Antiracism, Games, and Immersive Media vertical, as VR role-playing project that tackle issues such as racism and discrimination by encouraging empathy.

Design of video game characters has physical-world repercussions

a group of young people playing video games

A recent study from MIT researchers, including Antiracism, Games, and Immersive Media faculty lead D. Fox Harrell, demonstrates that the exaggerated design of characters in fighting video games reinforces cultural stereotypes about gender, race, and ethnicity.

Simulating discrimination in virtual reality

on the plane

The role-playing game “On the Plane”, developed by the Antiracism, Gaming, and Immersive Media vertical, simulates xenophobia to foster greater understanding and reflection via virtual experiences.


The Antiracism, Games, and Immersive Media vertical is led by D. Fox Harrell, Professor of Digital Media and AI in IDSS/CMS & MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (MIT CSAIL). He is the founding director of the MIT Center for Advanced Virtuality (MIT Virtuality). Key team members of this vertical include Pakinam Amer (Research Affiliate at MIT Virtuality), Jack Gray (Software Engineer), Rita Sahu (Senior Project Manager at MIT Virtuality), Sercan Sengun (Researcher at MIT Virtuality), Caglar Yildirim (Research Scientist at MIT CSAIL), and Kidus Yohannes (undergraduate research assistant at MIT CSAIL).  ​

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