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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?

Well yeah, I won't support. And I was also saying that I wouldn't do it myself.
I SHOULD go on Kickstarter and offer to do the exact same project for $2,500.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 04:31:33
oh... its this... again..

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 04:51:39
@Mr_Mustache I'm totally going to use Kickstarter at some point. Once I actually do something I can justify asking for big money for.


@Scrawnton It's not really a debate about Kickstarter again! That's just the last few posts.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 04:54:06  - Edited by 
 on: 06/15/12, 04:54:40

If the donation incentives are XP bonuses, I'm in!

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 05:21:00

Why would you start a Kickstarter for something that is free to do / figure out?

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 05:30:19

Because money, duh.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 05:37:54
@Secret_Tunnel Yes!!! Why even go through the trouble though. I should just straight up sell XP. And levels. Anyone can become a moderator, for the right price! Or even... a site owner?!

@Mr_Mustache Free to do? Time is money man!!!

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 06:40:45

I was already promised site ownership. I'm still waiting.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 06:46:07

If time is money, then someone owes me BIG TIME for my NCAA Project. 8 f'n years!!

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 08:03:52
@Mr_Mustache Should have created a Kickstarter for it man!

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 08:16:58

Except that project was for you

Feel free to bill yourself

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

Also Amazon Pandora...:

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 11:08:49  - Edited by 
 on: 06/15/12, 11:44:16

Ah well. Went off the sweat of research and the goodwill of folks who were happy to help. "Hey, you like cereal; can you think of 50?" 200 teams, man. 200 teams.. I collected probably 10,000 names on my own. I'm gearing up for my 2nd season now. I've already finished 20 or so teams, replacing the Freshmen there, probably 10 on average per team. So yeah, another 200 fresh names.


Mmm.. Mmmm.. Mmmmmm.
--Al Michaels, BASEketball

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 12:27:53
You know, if there is anything we could learn from certain European countries, it's how to acknowledge that sex and sexuality are awesome. Many of them do it without creating a society that oppresses women.

Does this mean we'd have to accept dude's in speedos? Probably. But I think that's a good trade compared to the cultural cluster-eff we have in America regarding sexuality.

Violence and ending life? We're cool with that.

The stuff that keeps life on the planet going? RAWR! EVIL!! THE DEVIL'S WORK!!

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 18:30:00
I'm not sure that the issues here stem from a fear of sex and sexuality though. The issues are more about when women are objectified IE presented in a manner where sex is their primary / only point of being in the media, when they are presented in unrealistic body proportions / clothing just to be eye candy, etc. Basically the claim that I think someone like Anita Sarkeesian would make (although of course the point of the actual research is to not just make open claims but to back then up with evidence) is not that women being sexual beings in media is necessarily an issue by itself, but it is that in the video game industry there is little attempt to show the totality of womanhood that extends far beyond their sexuality. Our industry tends to focus primarily on one thing when it creates female characters, which just happens to be one thing that men get excited about, and that's a problem.

There are some very mature (like, actually mature, not gamer mature) works of art / media / etc. that are highly sexual, while presenting sexuality in the more nuanced light that it deserves.

And then there is Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball:

I hope we can all recognize the difference.

Of course it's not always black and white what is and isn't objectification (Dead or Alive is kind of an obvious extreme case.) But still, that is the issue, and that is why it's important to look into these representations in our industry.

I dunno, I actually kind of think it's a bad thing when like half of us instantly think "Jade from Beyond Good and Evil" when it comes to a female lead character who is presented as something more than a sex object. There should be way more options. And even Jade shows off some skin:

It takes the context of playing through the game to realize that she's not used as a sex object. Which actually comes as a bit of a shock. It's like woah, "cute" young girl in a video game and she... just runs around saving the world without getting sexy? That's kind of rare. Even Nintendo had Samus strip down a bit at the end.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 18:57:11  - Edited by 
 on: 06/15/12, 19:03:46
@NinSage, does that mean ours IS a society that oppresses women? Not that I disagree with your basic sentiment at all. I often fall into the "violence is okay, sex/nudity notsomuch" pattern when deciding what movies my 12 year old daughter can watch. And yes, sex and sexuality are pretty awesome, for adults.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 19:01:07

I think Jade remains a good example of a decent female character. While she's sexualized to a certain extent, it's not out of sync with the world she inhabits, her profession or the way her character is portrayed. That world and the larger context of BG&E doesn't go out of its way to lend itself to something exploitative or cheap. A character doesn't need to be devoid of sexuality in order for them to be well rounded, and I think Jade fits that bill.

Oddly enough, I think some of the female characters in Dragon Age: Origins kind of roll the same way as well. I can't remember too many examples of player controllable old women (Lynne), Lelianna is deliberately provocative but those aspects of her character are well explained and actually fleshed out (considering the genre and the medium) and while Morrigan's default outfit is certainly revealing, again, it's not out of sync with her lifestyle at the time and she's one of the more interestingly written WRPG characters in recent memory. Some of the women in Dragon Age 2 were pretty damned disappointing in comparison.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 20:46:06
@Kal-El814 Well yeah, that's why I picked her earlier as an example of a good female character. Outside from the character model showing a bit of tummy and wearing semi-flamboyant lipstick, she's not really sexualized at all. And then she is given a real personality in the game itself. So she's ok.

I'm just saying that it's a shame that it is tough to think of many other examples.

Hmm, and not to get all negative on a game I haven't played, but when I hear things like "Lelianna is deliberately provocative but those aspects of her character are well explained" and "Morrigan's default outfit is certainly revealing, again, it's not out of sync with her lifestyle at the time" it makes me cringe a bit. This kind of sounds to me like game developers sitting around trying to figure out how to put more skin in a game without making it blatant that they're putting skin in a game to put skin in a game. I mean, you can always come up with some surface reasons for WHY a woman is dressed a certain way or acting a certain way, but if you're coming up with them after the decision to over-sexualize your female characters in some fashion, you're kind of just contributing to the problem.

I even remember people trying to explain all of the nudity in God of War games with the logic that "greek art depicted lots of nudity so it's just being faithful to the imagery we have of that period" or whatever. I was like ok, fine, but...

A. Nude women in Greek art generally did not have ridiculously huge boobs. They generally had pretty small ones, because that was beauty back then before breast implants somehow became beauty.

B. Greek art also had tons of nude males, so where is all the penis?

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 21:43:01  - Edited by 
 on: 06/15/12, 21:44:49
What I was getting at with my previous post is this idea that if a woman is even attractive it somehow automatically discredits her. It was mentioned how "even Jade shows off some skin." The goal shouldn't be to REMOVE sex from women. It should be to equip the audience with enough sense to process sexuality in a healthy way.

Content makers should not hold this as the goal for depicting women ...


no, no, I was just ruling out foreign societies where sex is embraced openly.... but only by men. that's definitely not us!

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 22:13:13

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 22:17:34

I don't think anyone is suggesting that frumpy, dumpy, man-women are the only option. But you yourself mentioned how men are exploited by images of sexualized women. So surely you understand what we're getting at here. Is Jade showing midriff for exploitative reasons or is it just... well, I can't even finish the sentence because of course it's for exploitative reasons. I'd be stunned if anyone thought it was just simply an innocent style choice, even if normal women wear clothes like that every day.

But I'd refer you to Kal's posting on the matter. Sexuality should never be off limits, of course. I don't think anyone in this thread is a Puritan. Sex is good. It's fun. Just about the greatest thing on Earth. It's worth discussing in media. It's the source of humanity.

The difference, I guess, is in what tacit sexuality in supposedly non-sexual content signals to women - and young girls in particular. Personally, I'm not happy with a culture that implies to women, through media, that their primary value to society is whatever sexual opportunities they present for men. That's basically my problem with women in video games in a nutshell. Because I've played hundreds of games with nubile young sex-kittens in them, but it's very rare I've come across a game starring a somewhat plain looking girl who's nevertheless heroic. Jade comes close, with that butch haircut, but I still think I'd turn my head and gawk if I saw a woman who looked like that walking the other way down the street.

That's absolutely not to say a female character can't be taken seriously if she's sexy. I'll defend Lara Croft, ridiculous boobs and all, because I think she's a certain archetypical character. She's a sexy, daredevil adventurer and there are examples of those from both genders. Indiana Jones. James Bond. Those two would probably have big boobs if they were women. What I would like to see, though, is simply a larger variety of female characters in games, including ones whose sexuality isn't cranked up to 11. They don't all have to be role models, but they don't all have to be sex models, either. Honestly, I think that's reasonable and shouldn't be equated to wanting all women to look like Pat.

Take the Bellac cousins from GTA IV. Now, there are two well-developed characters who are also totally homely guys. There's sex all over their story, but I don't think anyone would accuse Rockstar of exploiting their particular sexuality. Where are their female counterparts in games? I can't think of a single woman in a video game I've ever played that's analogous to Roman Bellac. Why isn't there at least one? I guess that's what I'd like to see.

Posted by 
 on: 06/15/12, 22:41:12
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