Research Residency

Antonio Roberts

12 January – 11 May 2024

Antonio Roberts works with technology in innovative ways, exploring authorship, gaming, digital and reproduction. This spring, his research residency focuses on developing an experimental narrative fiction game using Twine software.  A Boy is a Gun presents a new fictional narrative to reimagine stereotypical roles with gaming, with main character  Skate Hunter (from Streets of Rage)  set in the world of Super Mario Bros. Streets of Rage 2 was the first game to feature the character Skate and in his artworks, Roberts draws from the original narrative and existing fan fiction to interrogate the ways in which Skate’s characterisation draws on stereotypes of Black masculinity. In the new game, Skate is rendered as the ‘child’ – or teen – that his interactions with family indicate, rather than the combative adult male familiar from the original game.

This reimagining of roles within gaming follows on from Roberts’ 2021 work Heavyweight Champ, which critiqued the stereotypical portrayal of Black men which was prevalent in early video games.

Save the date: 3rd May, Digbeth First Friday is 10!

May 2024 marks the 10th birthday of Digbeth First Friday. To celebrate, we are delighted to share A Boy Is A Gun – new work from Antonio Roberts, who in 2014 featured in Vivid Projects inaugural First Friday event! 

The Skate character is central to a playable version of the research, which is presented alongside videos further exploring the narrative and a recorded conversation between the artist and Dr Ian Sergeant.

3rd May 5-8pm (late opening for Digbeth First Friday birthday celebration)

4th May 1-5pm

Continues 9th-11th May, 1-5pm

Venue: Vivid Projects, 16 Minerva Works, 158 Fazeley St, Birmingham B5 5RS

Free event, part of Digbeth First Friday


Project Reading list:

A Boy Is A Gun -Weaponising Black Gender in video games
The virtual census: representations of gender, race and age in video
The History of Black Video Game Characters | NowThis Nerd
‘Catch These Hands’: The Black Boxer Trope in Fighting Video Games
Eddie “Skate” Hunter
Treachery in Beatdown City
Writing for Games -Hannah Nicklin
A Boy is a Gun poster, 2024