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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?

But if those are the most popular results, isn't that indicative of SOMETHING? We know (from experience) that all games AREN'T violent, and we know that there are a good number of games with women in a FINE perspective. Heck, a good 98% of my games are mostly non-violent, or something that isn't realistic anyways (ie: Contra; dudes blowin' up into nothing instead of bleeding out in the corner.), and pretty much every game she showed I haven't even PLAYED. In the drivers example, there doesn't seem to be a lot of people going "look at all of these horrible drivers behind me; all old guys!" We hear about speeding, and drunk driving, and reckless driving, sure, but not a lot of "this dude just sat behind me when I had my 4-ways on for minutes before going around."

Posted by 
 on: 07/18/13, 02:20:51
I don't know exactly what your point is, but I will say that I think being Nintendo-only has kept you a bit in the dark as to the trends of the industry as a whole. A lot of the stuff she points to is a lot more common on the other platforms than it is the Nintendo platforms.

Posted by 
 on: 07/18/13, 02:53:17

So keeping myself "shielded" from that is a negative thing, in a way? Thats like saying someone needs to drink to understand the dangers of alcohol.

Posted by 
 on: 07/18/13, 03:59:41
I never said it was bad, you can do what you want, but to take that metaphor to the next step, it'd be sort of the equivalent of saying crack cocaine isn't an issue because you never see it anywhere so, when the reality is that you're not seeing it because you're not hanging out where the crack addicts are.

That's kind of a poor metaphor, but it gets my general point across. This is precisely why I like Nintendo so much, because when I go through the top games on my Wii every year it's mostly Nintendo stuff and princess tropes aside, at least Nintendo isn't over-sexualizing women all the time. On my PS3 every year though it's like... blah. I think things ARE getting better, but there is still a long way to go.

Want to play a game that handles women very poorly, try out God of War III. Double blah. As much as I want to see change, I'm still pretty bad at speaking with my $$$, and there isn't too much that is actually going to make me stop playing a series that I otherwise enjoy... but I think God of War III took it to that level. I could probably get through the rest of my life ok without having to shove another innocent, topless (big boobs of course) woman into a gear, crushing her to death, just to open a door. I really don't see myself ever playing another God of War game at this point.

Posted by 
 on: 07/18/13, 04:22:45  - Edited by 
 on: 07/18/13, 04:23:35
Zero said:

In fact, Joe seems to be pointing his data out as an example of what he believes Anita has done, try to make a broader conclusion without sufficient data, which is why he disagrees with her conclusions. In accepting Joe's limited data as evidence of a larger trend, you are (through his perspective, anyway) accepting bad research, or, essentially, accepting Anita's brand of bad research as valid. Through his perspective.

That's right!

Zero said:

I disagree, mostly because I think the pool of video games is much, much smaller than the pool of drivers, and the pool of "popular" games (that have the widest influence) is even smaller, so it doesn't require quite as much data to pinpoint trends in game design as it does to notice trends in drivers.

That's ... not quite right. Anita's work would be completely justified in looking at the most popular or influential games. When I do my presentation on the subject in November that's exactly the basis I'll be working from. Unfortunately, that's where Anita's true cherry-picking begins -- by isolating, highlighting, and implying conclusions from only the pieces of those games that fit her agenda.

Posted by 
 on: 07/18/13, 18:20:24  - Edited by 
 on: 07/18/13, 18:21:13
I dunno man, we'll just have to disagree. Because I think it makes perfect sense to focus on the problematic games, which are very prevalent. I don't think that she ever attempted to define how prevalent (I could be wrong there, haven't paid the closest attention), just that they are prevalent.

Posted by 
 on: 07/18/13, 18:33:42

Even if the guy in God of War III was doing that stuff to GUYS (even with a giant schlong hanging out), I wouldn't want to play that. I don't like that crap. Even stuff in GUN had me going "uh, WOW."

That said, I was also fawning over the Live Nudes sign in Arkham City FOREVER, and hoped hoped hoped it was going to lead to something with Catwoman / Batman Year One. It did not.

Posted by 
 on: 07/18/13, 22:43:22
@Mr_Mustache Well Kratos does do it to guys too, but without all the SEXINESS involved. And I didn't like it then either. But this particular part in question stood out for me even more, in part because of how "helpless" they made this scantily clad, topless woman appear, in part because it was very clear within the game that she was completely innocent, and in part because you spend a good ten or twenty minutes hunting her down, keeping her alive from enemies, brutally pushing her from room to room, just to crush her in the gear because um... the dude with freaking godlike powers can't think of any other way to stop a gear from moving besides crushing an innocent woman in it.

Posted by 
 on: 07/18/13, 22:55:32  - Edited by 
 on: 07/18/13, 22:55:59

Posted by 
 on: 07/18/13, 23:28:26

I thought that was nice. Glad to see not all women are shunned for it. I'm not going to say that you should do it everywhere, like a cramped subway car or something. But hell, you gotta do what you gotta do. People were breastfeeding well before bottle formula came around. I don't see why so many sticks are up so many butts.

Posted by 
 on: 07/19/13, 00:57:20

... wha?

The degrees of prevalence isn't the issue. It's that when you cherry-pick like that you can make anything seem like a valid conclusion. In other words, with enough effort, one could probably string together a series of clips showing that video games are anti-_____ or pro-_____. But that wouldn't make it true.

... hmm, this actually sounds like a good opener. String together a series of clips making video games seem.... what's something ridiculous? Pro-communism? Anti-Italian?

EDIT: Just when I think I'm out of this black hole of a thread ...

I'll try harder =\

Posted by 
 on: 07/19/13, 03:11:08  - Edited by 
 on: 07/19/13, 03:13:18

Try for "Pro-Women." Seemingly impossible.

Posted by 
 on: 07/19/13, 03:20:47
@NinSage The degree of prevalence is precisely the issue. How could it not be?

In theory you can string together anything if you're just randomly cherry-picking, as you claim that she is. Although I'd love to see someone make the same exact videos flipping the gender roles, would be interesting to see what uber obscure games they would have to go to in order to find enough examples of, for instance, strong women saving men who have had their power taken away. Let's not even try to pretend that these videos would be as easy to make with the genders reversed.

Anyway, to me the important question is... do her examples represent a prevalent trend in the larger industry (or at least, in the larger industry of popular / influential games?) Prevalence is of the utmost importance. If her examples don't represent a larger trend, I agree, they're useless. If they do represent a larger trend, they're powerful.

My viewpoint is that they definitely do. It's not like she said anything particularly shocking to me. It's the same junk I've been seeing for years, and have definitely noticed in many, many games that I've played up to this point. It's hard to get away from, really, unless you severely limit the type of games that you play.

@Mr_Mustache I'd love to see a multi-video series on the "pro-woman" nature of the video game industry that doesn't have to quickly jump back to the same few notable games over and over as examples. I'm serious. Would love to see this.

Posted by 
 on: 07/19/13, 03:33:33  - Edited by 
 on: 07/19/13, 03:35:34

But "Women Saving Men" isn't a "trope," or something that has existed forever (and ever) in stories throughout the lands (ie: knight saving princess). The "equivalent" would be more of finding women in games NURTURING men, or something, as mothers tend to do (and nurses, and maids, and helpers, etc.). What you're asking for doesn't really exist, well, anywhere -- outside of comic books.

(If you like strong women, you should read Batwoman. She's a lesbian, too, so there aren't any pesky guys to get in the way, stealing the limelight from the girls and messing stuff up for you or Anita. Last I left off, she was teamed up with Wonder Woman and fighting Medusa. All Woman Revue.)

Posted by 
 on: 07/19/13, 04:03:09
@Mr_Mustache Um, you realize that you're kind of making Anita's argument right now, right? "Something that has existed forever (and ever) in stories" is precisely what she is asking people to question, because simply existing forever (and ever) in stories doesn't automatically give it a free pass. And what do you mean this doesn't exist outside of comic books? 14% of our armed forces are women. This idea that women are all weak and need men to protect them is bunk. I'll tell you who is weak... ME. If America is ever invaded I'll be hiding out in Canada while our troops, 14% of which are women, are actually out there fighting to protect me. I can admit that. The idea of being in combat scares the F out of me, plenty of women out there that are much stronger than I am.

And yes, I realize that this 14% isn't all in active combat, and women are allowed only limited roles in combat, but that hasn't kept many of them from getting out there into real combat.

For instance, one of our own congressmen (congresswomen?) lost multiple limbs as a helicopter pilot in a war while we were sitting on our couches playing fake video games that let us pretend to be heroes. Who is protecting who here?

Anyway, I'm getting off point here. My only real point was that switching the roles to the female nurturer in order to make your list isn't really a strong argument that what Anita claims is happening isn't happening, since those kind of gender roles are exactly what she says is happening. If you don't think they're an issue, that's a whole other story, but then you and Joe are really making two very different arguments here. He says (I think?) that she is presenting an inaccurate picture of what actually exists.

And I don't read comics unless they are in graphic novel form. Is it in graphic novel form?!

Posted by 
 on: 07/19/13, 04:31:49  - Edited by 
 on: 07/19/13, 04:35:54

Seriously, what the heck is the difference between comics and graphic novels?

Posted by 
 on: 07/19/13, 05:00:35
@Shadowlink Graphic novels have hard covers. ZING.

Nah I dunno, I'm not sure if there is a clear difference, but in my mind graphic novels have a more defined starting and end point, and some actually manage to tell their whole story in a single book. Regular comics just seem kind of open-ended to me, like I could start reading one and 87 episodes later it would still be going strong. I don't have the patience for that junk.

Especially since I get all of my graphic novels from the library and they are very inconsistent about having every episode of things that have a ton of episodes...

Posted by 
 on: 07/19/13, 05:04:50  - Edited by 
 on: 07/19/13, 05:06:25

Oh, I have no doubt that you'd be a Draft Dodger. That doesn't prove anything. Plus, you and I are both too tall for armed combat. How fit are you? I wouldn't even make the cut, not with this bum hip, thats for sure.

No, Joe is right (and I'm right, too); she's saying that these things are prevalent in "videogames" ie: the whole shabang, when its really only in SOME videogames. Like, when I tell you how a black dude gets in my face, and you jump to "Stache hates all black people." No, I hate the way THAT GUY treated me, regardless of skin color. I don't like Mike Canfield either. What an asshole.


Graphic novels DON'T have hardcovers. ZING. My Watchmen (THE Graphic Novel) is very much paperback. It has a TON of pages though, and yes, you can probably get Batwoman in "Trade Paperback" (TPB) form. It'd be like 4-6 issues collected, usually for one arc. Talk to Anand about it. Maybe we'll wind up at a cool comic shop in Chicago and we can get you hooked up.

A lot of the times "Graphic Novels" are set stories (arcs) that were IN those comics. Like, "The Killing Joke" is a very popular one where Joker did some mean things to Batgirl (New 52's Batgirl is another awesome read, btw, very cool this run). I wasn't around when it happened, but I think it happened in the "regular line" of comics. I could be very much wrong on that one.

If you're legit interested in Batwoman for this sole purpose, you should know that the writing isn't top notch, though the art is pretty darn neat and wild to look at. Each panel usually uses BOTH pages and it looks very art-o. Pretty boss. I just wish the story was more engaging.

Posted by 
 on: 07/19/13, 05:23:54
@Mr_Mustache Of course it's only some video games, no one said it is every single one. It's an awful lot of them though, especially when you talk about the popular / influential ones. And the fact that you instantly realized how impossible it would be to switch gender roles shows that some clear gender roles exist in video games in pretty significant numbers.

As for graphic novels, I guess it depends. The library gets a lot of hard cover ones, probably because paperback ones would be trashed within a few weeks. Either way I'm not BUYING any comics, that's what the library is for! Free book rentals!

I'm not too interested in many Marvel / DC superhero comics period, to be honest. Especially if the writing is bad. Blah.

Posted by 
 on: 07/19/13, 05:30:27

Batgirl is a good read. She's rad.

Posted by 
 on: 07/19/13, 05:36:50
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