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Tropes Vs Women in Video Games, Somehow a Controversy? (+ general gender / video game discussion)
News reported by 
June 14, 2012, 17:58:56
The short story is that Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency has started a Kickstarter to explore the stereotypes of females in video games. Or well, why not just hear it in her words?

I love playing video games but Iím regularly disappointed in the limited and limiting ways women are represented. This video project will explore, analyze and deconstruct some of the most common tropes and stereotypes of female characters in games. The series will highlight the larger recurring patterns and conventions used within the gaming industry rather than just focusing on the worst offenders. Iím going to need your help to make it happen!

The longer story is that because she is a self-proclaimed "feminist" (what this means in her case I'm really not sure, since everyone interprets this label differently when applying it to themselves) that anything she does somehow automatically becomes super controversial, and she has received rape threats and death threats and attempts to shut down this project from (primarily) male gamers. Because obviously if you disagree with feminism the way to get your point across is to tell a women she needs to be raped and murdered. (That was sarcasm, in case you missed it. This is not the correct way to express disagreement. At all.)

Personally I think that, all fears of succumbing to the feminist agenda aside (also sarcasm), projects like hers are necessary for the video game industry to truly mature. Gamers seem to love talking about the word "mature" a lot, so why do we rebel against actual maturity so much? I think that it's a good thing that she is sticking to her project, all threats aside. And whatever the case, it is ridiculous that people are fighting so hard to shut her up. Why not let her say what she has to say and if, after actually hearing it, you disagree with it, you are well within your rights to say something.

What do you guys think?

PS. As of this writing she has brought in $126,768 of her $6,000 Kickstarter goal. So things aren't completely dire. But this doesn't negate the abuse she has had to (and most likely will continue to) sustain just to get this project moving.

As of today this thread will be locked. What originally was meant to be a thread discussing the soon-to-be controversial Anita videos about female tropes in Video Games grew into something much more. We at Negative World absolutely love a good conversation and we will always encourage mature and respectful conversation. That said, the thread has had it's moments of polarization to the extreme in the past and recently. While at the moment I write this, the thread is rather calm,.. there has been a joint decision by the moderators of this site to close this particular thread down. The thread strayed way outside of the original bounds of it's intent. We have a different idea of how to frame this delicate and polarizing topic at Negative World.

For future installments of Anita's series we will either have a mod create a new official thread for it (as well as posting links to previous episodes) or we will use our already established Youtube Video thread. The latter could have easily been the original home for this thread if it wanted to. Discussion can continue as normal in the future thread but we ask to keep in mind that the topic should relate to Anita's videos and her message. Hear, analyze, and discuss that. This new location for this discussion will be established with the release of her next video. Please find patience till then.

Thank you from all of us at Negative World for understanding.
~ Negative World Moderation

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Posted: 06/14/12, 17:58:56  - Locked by 
 on: 08/22/13, 04:37:22    
Why not sign up for a (free) account and create your own content?
@Zero Usually there are stretch goals projects aspire to, where if you make X amount of money greater than the initial goal, new things get added to the project. For example with Wasteland 2, at $2.1 million they brought in some people from Obsidian to help with designing the game, and at $3 million they added the goal of releasing modding tools for the game. I don't know what Anita Sarkeesian is planning, if anything, but I still am backing her project

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 00:27:50
Isn't it funny that Samus was previously hailed as a paragon of female portrayals in gaming solely because she had no defining feminine characteristics, whatsoever, to the point that the surprise in the first game actually worked (and was kind of sexist)? I feel like Sakamoto has envisioned her in the Other M way this entire time. He was just never able to show it.

I mean, you could say that the Baby Metroid thing was motherly, but wasn't it just guardianly, when taken out of the context of our society? It's not like she nursed it, or anything.

Again assuming that the vast majority of players are male, the Tomb Raider are probably pandering with the whole damsel-in-distress angle, but, god damn, almost every other mainstream form in our culture does the same. Mainstream female movie roles are probably much worse, and the viewership is probably more female.

I don't really know what I'm arguing, here. I'm not actually disagreeing with you. I just games are more of a reflection than a cause.

Is Playboy the porn industry?

Anyway, those studies are probably horseshit, because they include Solitaire, Bejeweled, Angry Birds, etc., which is why I specifically said 'console gamers'. I'm sure there ARE female gamers that are just like us, but I'm equally sure that they account for a tiny minority. And, like almost any minority, I'm also sure that they AREN'T generally welcomed.

Hey let's each nominate a GOOD female character in a game. I'll go first: Midna.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 00:29:26

See I think games have been getting better about stuff like this.

Off hand:

Alyx from Half Life 2
Mass Effect's Female Shepard
Kat from Reach
Anya/Sam from Gears 3
Tetra/Zelda from WW

Those are some major games.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 00:36:11
@X-pert74 Is it required though? I'm kind of curious as to how Kickstarter actually works when a massive excess comes in. The only functional way to handle it (in my eyes) is the person / organization gets to keep it. But for what? I'd think ideally one would find a way to use that excess to further whatever cause their original project was for, but I imagine some people just pocket it.

@Anand Is Playboy NOT the porn industry? It's softcore yeah, but it's still porn.

As for the studies it's difficult to say. Probably a small fraction of females play FPS on the HD consoles, but what about the Wii? As for the DS well... completely anecdotal, but I see young girls playing it out in public all the time. I see young boys even moreso, but still... lots of young girls are playing DS and I'd assume many of them play Wii at home. Eventually they will grow up. Still I think there are a fair amount of teenage/adult girls playing games too now. Like, real games. And I think the more accepted it gets, the more girls will want to play with their boyfriends/husbands as opposed to not. Etc.

Anyway, what do you mean "just like us"? We don't even fit into this industry. That's why Negative World exists man!

A good female character in a game? Hmm. Amaterasu. But you know... she is a wolf, lol. It's tough to think of many good human female characters in games. Lucca from Chrono Trigger? But... was she involved in a weird love triangle with Crono and Marle (which would be very cliche), or am I remembering that game wrong?

Next question would be name a good female character who is the lead playable character in a game. I guess my answer would be Amaterasu again, heh. But this would be a very small list. Jade from Beyond Good and Evil?

WayForward seems to be a fan of non-traditional female leads in games, although they tend to have a lot of SEXY ART connected to their games too.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 00:40:36  - Edited by 
 on: 06/15/12, 00:45:13
Not sure about the developer comments about "protecting Lara". That smells like paternal drivel, but maybe you could make a case that you want to protect any heroic character that's getting beat up that badly. But... well, I'm perceptive enough to know better than to accept an argument that clearly disingenuous.

That said, I think Sterling's take about Tomb Raider possibly defining a woman's value based on the shit she's been dragged through is more potent. And that's a thing that both men and women feed into. Steph and I talk frequently about how often you see survivor narratives in women's media. "I survived cancer." "I survived an abusive spouse." "I survived an at-risk pregnancy." There's a huge market for that stuff and I can't really think of anything analogous with men. I don't have an explanation for the psychology behind this. Just pointing it out. But I wonder if the Tomb Raider thing is a similar survivor narrative and might, in fact, be pitched to women along those lines.

That said, I think making Lara a survivor is bullshit. Lara is like the Sean Connery James Bond, in my opinion. She should be suave, smooth, smart and you should never see her sweat. That's my view of the character. You can take away her ridiculous breasts, but at least let her keep her pride.

This being some kind of prequel doesn't change that for me. She's the Sean Connery James Bond, not the Daniel Craig one.

Oh, and since Anand is asking for a good female character.... hmmm... Jade from Beyond Good and Evil, maybe? EDIT: And, of course, Zero beat me to it.

Does Palutena's sexy leg stocking disqualify her?

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 00:49:45  - Edited by 
 on: 06/15/12, 00:52:28

Terra and Celes from FFVI. Come to think of it, Terra is a pretty good example of a motherly character done right.

Mia Fey from Pheonix Wright is a pretty good character, even though she's sort of sexualized. I think it's done more for humor though. Maya even channels Mia's spirit at one point so that she can morph into a big sexy woman and manipulate an old man!

Does GLaDOS count?

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 00:50:45

I agree, Zelda has been handled pretty well lately. Sure she still gets kidnapped, but it somehow avoids the feel of the whole annoying 'damsel in distress' bullshit that you get with say, Peach. There's rhyme and reason behind the kidnappings when they happen, and Zelda is hardly the type to sit around being useless when it occurrs. Given the chance, she kicks ass in her own right. Thus she's her own character, and not defined purely in relation to Link.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 01:20:51
Gosh darnit, Zero! Use siennarcastica! Then you dont' have to tell us, we'll just know. Good job!

As for everything else (I didn't click any links), what does she aim to do? Does she want more female videogame characters to have leading roles? What types of things should they be doing? And if you just swap out a female or a male in X game, what does that really accomplish? "Oh, Sonic has a vagina now." Does that really change anything? She's a fast as heck hedgehog -- girl power!


Does she really pocket it? Horrible. What a great job for someone. "I do crap on Kickstarter." How is research even $6,000?? I don't think I've spent money on a single study ever, and I graduated college where I had to do do studies and reports. What is this??


I'm going to edit this as I read Page 2 and 3....

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 01:28:35
@Zero I think it's pretty much reliant on an honor system, as is the concept of Kickstarter in general. The expectation is that one will put the extra proceeds into the project as well, but there's no real guarantee that that actually happens all the time. If one doesn't feel like taking that risk, I don't blame them, but I still back projects despite that.

Looking at this project's page again, I'm reminded of the fact that there were definitely new things added to this project. The project's scope initially only covered five different tropes over five videos, but thanks to the extra funds it's been expanded to eleven main videos, along with a bonus video covering the 10 most common defenses of sexism in games, and a rebuttal to them. There will also be classroom curriculum released as part of the project, thanks to the extra backing this has received. I think it's cool how much is being added to this

Anyways, as for the main topic, there are definitely issues that need to be addressed with video games (and media in general) regarding gender; both male and female. This Kickstarter project doesn't preclude that from happening with men. If you're interested in learning more about how this particular series will probably turn out, seeing Sarkeesian's previous series, Tropes vs Women, would be a good idea. I looked through it the other day, and found it an interesting view.

Zero said:
The longer story is that because she is a self-proclaimed "feminist" (what this means in her case I'm really not sure, since everyone interprets this label differently when applying it to themselves)

She covers this in her "straw feminist" trope video. I only viewed it once, but from what I recall she states that it's popular to portray feminists in media as crazy man-haters, when that's far from true. The definition of feminism is to attain equal rights to men, not greater rights, but it's popular in recent fiction to distort this by creating stark-raving mad women who want ultimate power over men, in an attempt to discredit feminism as a whole. I couldn't say if there are actually people out there who want women to have more power than men; perhaps they're out there, but that's not nearly as often the case as this trope leads people to believe.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 01:39:00
I will say this: the problem has less to do with how women are portrayed in videogames and more to do with how we treat and therefore perceive women in our society. Thus, everything bad we see in videogames in relation to women is merely a mirror or what is seen in advertisements for magazines, big budget movies, music videos, etc and what we experience at a local level, gender stereotypes and such. We can't change the world unless we change ourselves.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 01:53:17

Awesome! Thats in Trauma Team!? *off to the store*
--And freakin' let her relax, she's off duty!!


I always feel the need to get a preemptive defensive strike out there, too. My..opinions of certain topics are usually not along the beaten path. I see nothing wrong with what NinSage did..but thats far behind us.


I don't know if it matters at all, or what is going to come of it, but Mrs_Mustache played Super Princess Peach and never said anything negative to me about it, only that she really liked that. Imagine that, a girl, played the game we (a bunch of f'n guys) are calling sexist, and she enjoyed it.

I don't know where to go from here. (also, not one girl has posted in here)


Zelda is a Princess, SEXIST.


Any woman from Path of Radiance. They retain their femininity, but they're tough as nails. And no, they aren't all stacked or wearing "not there" clothes.


I heard a lady offer up "and I'm a survivor" yesterday unprovoked. It was kind of jarring at first to hear. I don't know. I kinda feel weird even remarking about it here. Breast Cancer (or any cancer) is terrible.

--Palutena has sexy stockings? *off to buy a 3DS and Kid Icarus*


Kris Wright watched a video the other day where a woman was trying to sell her breast milk to the public. She wanted all of the women to receive special treatment. That line of thinking (feminism over standard men) isn't so fantastical as it happens all the time.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 02:00:33  - Edited by 
 on: 06/15/12, 02:22:57
@Mr_Mustache ...How does selling breast milk imply superiority in any way?

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 02:18:10
@Mr_Mustache It's research and then a 5 video series. Now expanded to 12, apparently. And I have no idea if she keeps the leftover money, I'm just speculating.

The best way to find out would be to create a Negative World Kickstarter and see if I make mad riches off of it.

X-pert74 said:

She covers this in her "straw feminist" trope video. I only viewed it once, but from what I recall she states that it's popular to portray feminists in media as crazy man-haters, when that's far from true. The definition of feminism is to attain equal rights to men, not greater rights, but it's popular in recent fiction to distort this by creating stark-raving mad women who want ultimate power over men, in an attempt to discredit feminism as a whole.

Well, yeah in general I think she / you are right.

@Tranquilo Yeah, true. This is kind of my overall point, though I think you worded it better. People worry about imagery because it reflects real things.

@Mr_Mustache Well, that's just the blatant one. Trauma Team has a lot of women who dress in very odd ways for medical professionals, that's for sure.

@Mr_Mustache Here, a girl who thinks Super Princess Peach is sexist. So there is that. That site is an interesting place to get more female perspectives, actually.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 02:27:03  - Edited by 
 on: 06/15/12, 02:35:19
Mr_Mustache said:
I don't think I've spent money on a single study ever, and I graduated college where I had to do do studies and reports.

You went to college for free!?

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 02:27:51

I don't know, she's wacky. Kris should find the video.


You should totally do a kickstarter. Tell them you have dreams of starting a Nintendo-only message board after the persecution of the multi-console boards. You'd probably get a lot of people interested in a place like that.


That girl doesn't post here. Invalid. "GirlGamer?" Sounds like "Feminist Valley." How did you even get in there??
You're a GuyGamer.

--Why is everything pink over there? SEXIST.


Maybe girls LIKE the color pink.

EDIT- Ironically enough, there are a LOT of masculine women over there on that site.. And one of the girls cited Cooking Mama as a good role model more or less, and that her game is brutally difficult sometimes. I totally mentioned Cooking Mama before (not this thread) and people said that was poop because she cooks. So does Emerill and that Hell's Kitchen guy!

--AND I KID YOU NOT, the banner ad at the bottom of the page I was just reading was a link to that IMVU thing, and had additional likes for "Barbie Dress Up Games." Something is wrong somewhere if they are complaining about NOT wanting those games.

Zero, get some banner ads here for bigger space marines.


I didn't pay money to do a project. I paid money to enroll in the school.
She can probably do her project on Wikipedia and with a clipboard in the mall.

And we know that YouTube videos are free to make/host.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 02:58:36  - Edited by 
 on: 06/15/12, 03:04:24
I searched for "Princess Peach sexist" on Google! But I think I've seen that forum before.

Lots of girls do like the color pink. Who said they didn't? It's just a girl gamer site, I don't think it is specifically connected to feminism in any way.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 03:19:04

Dude. I just read a bunch of that site. Its just like IGN. With girls. All they want to do is play FPS games!
I don't think anything here was accomplished. Its a splinter cell..who likes Splinter Cell!

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 03:24:52

If she wants this project to be well-done, she needs to play the games for herself, analyze them, take time to think about them, write video scripts, capture footage, edit it all together... it's a process that will easily take several months. $6,000 isn't a ridiculous budget.

Now, whether it's right or wrong to ask people for money on Kickstarter, I dunno. I go back and forth on that.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 03:28:26

I think its wrong. I couldn't do it.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 03:41:00
I love the color pink. It's so awesome and cute

@Mr_Mustache Then you don't have to support it

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 04:19:57
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