Feds Fund Study of the ‘Toxic’ Speech of Video Gamers

National Endowment for the Humanities announces $22.8 million in grants

• March 24, 2015 5:00 am


The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is spending $29,403 to study the "toxic rhetoric" of online video gamers.

The grant is part of $22.8 million in new funding the agency announced Monday, which also includes $33,000 to create a college course on "whether peace is possible."

The video game initiative, entitled, "Notoriously Toxic: Understanding the Language and Costs of Hate and Harassment in Online Games" is being conducted by the Georgia State University Research Foundation.

The project is described as a "cross-disciplinary workshop and follow-up activities to develop a set of essays and a metadata schema to understand and describe toxic rhetoric in online spaces, with an emphasis on large-scale multiplayer computer games."

Additionally, Millsaps College, a small Methodist college in Jackson, Miss., received $33,000 to start teaching a pilot course on peace and violence.

"The development and teaching of a new course using historical, biological, and comparative cultural approaches to explore the question of whether peace is possible or violence is inevitable," the NEH said of the project.

The list of projects includes funding for numerous new undergraduate courses for the NEH’s "Enduring Questions" grant program.

Stetson University, in Central Florida, received $21,982 for a junior seminar on "diverse conceptions of what is natural." A $22,000 grant went to Kennesaw State University in Georgia for a course on the "relationship between past and present."

Other classes include the "meaning of play in human life" at Indiana University ($22,000), "what it means to be a citizen" at Centre College of Kentucky ($21,975), "the human connection with place" at the University of New Mexico ($32,998), the "changing concepts of an educated person" at North Dakota State University ($21,987), and "the relationship between virtue and gender" at Boston College ($22,000).

Another college course on the "morality of business activity" at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts is costing taxpayers $22,000.

The University of Florida also received $60,000 to "mass mine" social media.

The project will "collect and analyze large-scale, publicly available data drawn from social media sites," and develop an "open-source toolkit and training materials" for humanities researchers.

The University of San Francisco received $18,359 for a "course on concepts of  wisdom," while American University obtained $21,993 for students to learn the "meaning of suffering."