Akil Fletcher is an anthropologist whose research intersects the lines of anthropology, African American Studies, and game studies. He earned his B.A. in Anthropology from the City College of New York and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Irvine.
His research looks at how Black individuals create identity, community, and alternative forms of play within online games and gaming spaces. In his dissertation, “Playing in Color: An Exploration of Black Gaming Communities and Practices,” he examines how online Black communities use digital platforms to form selfhood and relationships in gaming spaces while circumventing forms of racism and anti-Blackness in games like Final Fantasy XIV and communication platforms like Discord. At Princeton, Fletcher plans to continue this work by developing his book project, which engages with the way Black gamers use gaming technologies to imagine new worlds of play within pre-established game worlds. In doing so, his work on “Black worlding” is buttressed by his second project which explores the impacts of virtual reality technology on race and Black players.
Fletcher’s work has been funded by multiple organizations and has won numerous awards, grants, and fellowships, such as the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, the National Science Foundation Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant, and the UCI President’s Dissertation Year Fellowship.
In Fall 2023, Fletcher will be teaching the course “Gaming Blackness: The Anthropology of Video Games and Race” which will focus on exploring the use of race in gameplay through an anthropological lens.