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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 I’m 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. I’m 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?
Three Musketeers shouldn't be marketed towards anybody. Sub-Milky Way trash...

DrFinkelstein said:
I think that's a pretty funny commercial. Though it doesn't make me want to eat the yogurt.

... is that a euphemism?

Posted by 
 on: 08/14/13, 03:49:23  - Edited by 
 on: 08/14/13, 03:53:38

If I remeber correctly the sex mini game gives you money. And I will argue that there is more nudity in God of War than there is in Bayonetta. Stricly speaking, we never see Bayonetta naked, (there is always sections of hair covering her genitalia and nipples) but we do see plenty of breasts in God of War.

Furthermore, Bayonetta is sexual, that is true, and it is also true that it was a selling point for plenty of sexually repressed adolescents and adults everywhere. Nevertheless, if you actually play the game you can tell that the fact that Bayonetta is overtly sexual, it doesn't take away from the fact that she is a kick-ass warrior. In that way, I would say that she is the female equivalent of Kratos, and if women truly want equal rights, it is about time we realize these things.

What I'm getting at, is that Bayonetta's sexuality is still a contention point where Kratos's (and Gods of War's) general sexualization is vastly accepted as natural and a part of the game. That's taking into account that Bayonneta simply suggests and Kratos actually performs. I'm saying this because I actually see more gamers (and journalists as well) talk more about Bayonetta's body that then would ever discuss Kratos's body and sexual exploits. Thus giving ammunition to other ignoramuses that claim games pollute the mind with violence and sex.

Oh, and there are plenty of example of games that pantomime sexual acts throughout the game: No More Heroes and Shadows of the Damned off the top of my head for example. Furthermore, the instances of Bayonetta actually physically licking lollipops can be counted with one hand (so far anyway, with over half of the game played) That goes for other things like pole dancing and other things of a suggestive nature which do not occur as often as some would have you believe.

To make a long story short, Bayonetta isn't as exploitative as you may think. Firstly, Bayonetta is always in charge and is the one who actually makes jokes alluding to sex, trolling the opponents if you will.The only time she gets "naked" is to use her hair, which is actually what her body suit is made out of, to invoke some "out of this work" creature in order to kill an enemy. Most things are just taken out of context. There are far more serious offenders of this like Metroid: Other M.

Posted by 
 on: 08/14/13, 03:56:05

Looks like the same sort of goings on to me...

Posted by 
 on: 08/14/13, 04:46:43

It is now.

Posted by 
 on: 08/14/13, 04:57:07

No, you've completely missed my point.

I cannot fathom the mental gymnastics involved in seeing what OMW posted and assuming that's "what feminists want." I cannot imagine what set of experiences or preconceived notions about feminism would let someone see what OMW posted and assume that's "what feminists want."

And don't get me wrong, I understand that anything post second wave feminism isn't particularly easy or especially intuitive. But modern feminist theory acknowledges this as part of the challenges of third wave (and beyond, I suppose) feminism, as its goals are less "obvious" than something like suffrage.

But that said, my point stands.


The notion that a super hot, ass kicking female, is more "in-control" simply because she is ass kicking, has been discussed in many places, though. For as strong as someone as Bayonetta is (and she IS, she's obviously on another level compared to just about everyone else in-game), she still conforms to heteronormative, male driven beauty standards. There's more nuance to that position, of course, but the "so what if she's sexy, she kicks ass" argument misses the point to some extent.

Also, there's a difference between Kratos' sexuality and Bayonetta's. Kratos is obviously a sexually motivated character to an extent, but that's not where his power comes from. For Bayonetta, it is. She is at her most powerful when she's essentially naked and using overtly sexual moves to dominate enemies. Kratos never does this. While I think sex mini games where women literally orgasm experience points and nude hair finishing moves are equally juvenile (though I don't think that either are inherently BAD, per se), again, they're both examples of male fantasies being played out, to some extent at least.

Again, though, I don't think Bayonetta is a horrible example of what's "wrong with women in games," or anything... the content is so obviously tongue in cheek that it's hard to take ANYTHING that happens in it all that seriously. But do I think it's another log on the "exploitative tropes" fire? Sure.

And I would agree that most of the Samus / Adam relationship in Other M is much worse in terms of straight up dressing a woman down. But Metroid has always been weird to some extent, in that you've got a generally strong and competent female protagonist... who will get more naked for you at the end of the game depending on how quickly / completely you finish. It's odd.

Posted by 
 on: 08/14/13, 18:58:39
I saw this today and I am bringing this back to Anita since you guys like to talk about her so much. It is a twitter conversation between her and one of the developers of a few of the games which had 2 games in Anita's videos. The two games were Aquaria which was a Positive example and Spelunky a negative example. Derek Yu as the developer and here is the exchange and the responses that follow afterwards.


Personally that type of conversation on the internet is kinda rare where people can just be decent to each other unless you are lucky and are apart of a great group of people.

Posted by 
 on: 08/14/13, 20:49:31  - Edited by 
 on: 08/14/13, 20:51:20

Feminists; they want women to be "equal," yes? Why do they need a watered down "Ladies Division?" If Women are truly equal, surely they should compete with Men directly, yes? Doesn't seem like that much of a stretch -- let alone "mental gymnastics" -- to say "ok, women want to compete with men directly, and now they are, and they're losing.." Who the heck wants that? I sure as heck don't (for men OR for women).

DO FEMINISTS?? (Anyone can answer.)


Well, this thread is here because of her, so yeah.

Agreeing with the Jack Dandy guy a lot. He's making sense, really. And other people, yes, it does look like he's backpeddling / "pandering." It SEEMS that a lot of people bend over backwards and "oh, I'm sorry, yes, you're totally right" a lot to Anita and the like. Heck, I've seen it in this very thread. If somebody complained to Anita that she upset them, I'm sure (SURE) that she'd turn around and not be anything like this Yu guy. It takes a lot to swallow your pride and respond calmly to someone (and believe it or not, I do this A LOT: story below); this guy is paying a respect that he most assuredly wouldn't receive. Heck, even when Anita mentioned how great Spelunky was and how she plays it often, she had to throw in a barb "..besides the damsel mechanic."

--The other night, Old White Guys got on my S-List on the road. I told you guys that I'd mention it when White Guys drove like poop around me, so here it is. I stopped for a red light and a guy passed me on the shoulder through the red. Can't do that. And at night, I was going to park in a spot, and an old guy came from the other row, pulled through the spots, and cut off my entry into my spot. Wishing to not have a head on accident, I swerved a little so I was parked weird. When I went to back up a little and straighten myself out..the guy drove FORWARD more. What the heck are you doing, guy? When I finally fixed everything, and we decided to stay where we are, and I got out of my car. He gave me the stink eye (because I did something wrong apparently, what the F), and I said very calmly "just trying to park here, sir, thats all."

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 00:30:33

Seems to me they want equality in any area that benefits them and none of the areas that don't.

I'm not saying that in a positive, negative, or accusatory way, that's just how it seems to me. From observation. "Equal rights except when we say so."

But yeah, if you want to be totally equal it seems like that means sports should be co-ed. Which is unfair. Because... we aren't equal. We aren't built to be equal, but complementary.

EDIT: I'll tell you where it REALLY bugs me. Tennis. For years women's tennis has screamed they should be paid equal winnings as men. But they play best 2 out of 3 games and men play 3/5. That isn't equal at all! And also why ISN'T it equal, because last I checked women weren't failing in the endurance department of biology. Playing extra games shouldn't need to take place because of gender, right? It boggles my mind in that particular instance, on both sides.

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 00:55:28  - Edited by 
 on: 08/15/13, 00:58:40

I can tell you from experience, especially in this thread, that you have a very unpopular opinion, however true it may be.

May want to ready your raincoat..

RESPONSE TO YOUR EDIT- I dunno, I guess Men's Tennis is billed more as the Main Event while Women's Tennis is the undercard, even though Women's Tennis has their fair share of stars. In NASCAR, the main races are usually around 500 miles, whereas the Nationwide (formerly Busch) series never really goes over 300 miles. That might not be a Men/Women thing after all, but simply Main Event vs. Whatever Else.

I can't remember the rules right now (and I don't want to look it up), but I'm pretty sure that Women's Gymnastics is BY FAR more appealing and "important" than the Men's Gymnastics in the Olympics. Different events than the guys do, ones that are more exciting than simple STRENGTH. All of the guys gymnastics things are like "look how long I can hold myself up." Hmm.

And if we're talking raw Female vs. Male power, would the Ladies LIKE to play from the Men's tees in golf? I don't know how many girls can drive a ball 300 yards. I sure as heck can't.

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 00:59:14  - Edited by 
 on: 08/15/13, 01:04:18
I think mostly what feminists want is the elimination of sexist inequalities like gender wage gaps that exist between men and women with the same degree of education and skillsets and the likes.

Some of you guys seem to be building up some odd strawmen argument with sports and I'm not entirely sure what it is based off of.

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 01:01:48

Go back a few pages; there is a Transgendered Male-to-Female fighter in MMA beating up girls. Cool, right?..

Nobody is talking about wage gap stuff anymore. But since you asked, should a female sanitation worker who can't lift as many bags as a male sanitation worker (or move them as fast) make the same amount of money? Do you only make your argument in degree-required white collar jobs? Out the window on blue collar work?

And just because you personally don't care to talk about something (ie: SPORTS; we have "Tennis" and "Women's Tennis." Equality?) doesn't make it a "strawman." A lot of these things that folks (myself and others) are bringing up because they are important to us and on our minds. Branding these things as "strawman" is pretty dismissive of you, sir.

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 01:08:26
@Mr_Mustache But you're talking about what "feminists" want. I know probably at least 10 self-identified feminists and I don't think any of them would support this. And they definitely don't support a definition of equality that says ignore when one person is better at something than another. Which feminists are you even talking about here?

I'm calling it strawman because you're using this thing as something to attack feminist beliefs, without finding out what feminists believe in. You're making up their beliefs for them, and that's the strawman. If you want to argue what people believe, find out what they believe, and then argue that.

Actually, here is the thing though... "feminists" don't all believe the same things anyway, and in some cases (for example, sexuality) there is a very, very wide spectrum of beliefs that fall under "feminism". I feel like you want one simple blanket definition of "feminist" that you can use to write off the whole thing, but it doesn't work that way.

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 01:38:25  - Edited by 
 on: 08/15/13, 01:39:05

Thats weird, because some people in this very thread are supporting this. "Well, if she's legally female.."

I'm not "making up beliefs," I asked a question.. Isn't that what you do when you want to know something but don't have the answer? What SHOULD I have done, said that I knew 10 self-identified feminists..and then spoke for them? What are you doing, sir? How do you know those 10 don't think thats a great idea?

--If there are numerous definitions for "feminists" and "feminism" and they all want different things (or a "wide spectrum of beliefs" as you put it), why is ANITA and her "Feminist Frequency" allowed to say what it says and we're supposed to take that as The Truth -- and that is the ONLY "real" input that matters here? Where are the other feminist's POV? I know I feel like my opinion is worth less than squat here.

"Ignore when one person is better at something than another?" Huh? Why is it hard for you guys to admit that "guys are generally stronger?" We're talking physical strength; it isn't even debatable. What is the CRIME here? Why even bother defending it? Thats like saying "Florida is generally warmer than New York," and some idiot speaking up and going "well, uhhh, have you ever been in New York in August?" Yeah, dummy, I have. And its warmer in Florida CONSTANTLY. ALL YEAR LONG. THERE ISN'T ANY SNOW. EVER. There is a city called "Frostproof."

Who cares of women are weaker than men generally? Why does that upset people????.. (<-- times A BILLION)

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 01:48:56

Like I said before, Bayonetta isn't without fault, obviously Sega appealed to the fact that it was a female protagonist to market the game. Sure, I haven't finished the game, so there might be some weird unlocks. With that said, I will say that there are definitely shades of male fantasy at play here, but it is blown way out of proportion, however. Bayonetta has some shades of overt sexuality but it is never that is tasteless, or crude, imo, similar to an ancient hellenistic nude for example.

The sexual jokes and moves are in the minority compared to what it is that you actually do in the game. It seems that people took the advertisements made by Sega and just accepted them at face value for what the game is, when in reality there's more to it than that. That's like watching a highlight reel for Grand Theft Auto and saying that it is just about murdering hookers and stealing cars. Or that Mass Effect is about getting it on with an assortment of hot female (or male) aliens.

The wicked weave technique, for example, uses her hair to summon demons to help her defeat the enemy. For some reason her hair forms her garments, idk why that is, but she is a witch so I don't really question that aspect of it, I guess she has powers like that. I don't think that was explained, I suspect that may have been an excuse to see more of her body at any given time but I still think it is bad-ass.

I will say that the is a disconnect between what you actually do in game and most of the story, since the game is clearly taking the piss out of itself gameplay wise with all the crazy things you can do here, but the story seems to want to play it straight most of the time.

And about the exploitative tropes, I will agree that some things are always suspect, but at some point we have to step back and analyze things for their own merits/faults. It would be like never having a "black" person play a gorilla for fears of shades of the production being labeled racists. Being politically correct isn't necessarily better for society, instead general education and exposure to certain subjects will foster understandings and will eventually change people's perceptions. I personally think this game should exists, would I change something about it? Not necessarily, per say, since like I've said before, I haven't seen anything crude or completely out of line yet. I don't think because a woman shows skin in a videogame and that alludes to sex it automatically equals sexual exploitation. If anything, like I said before, Bayonetta reminds of a lot of male characters in videogames and cartoons that seem like they are overtly sexual but they really aren't when it gets down to it. That's why I don't get the selective outrage or scrutiny of gamers and the press.

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 02:06:12
@Mr_Mustache Look, what I'm saying is to say things like: "Feminists; they want women to be "equal," yes? Why do they need a watered down "Ladies Division?" If Women are truly equal, surely they should compete with Men directly, yes? Doesn't seem like that much of a stretch -- let alone "mental gymnastics" -- to say "ok, women want to compete with men directly, and now they are, and they're losing.." Who the heck wants that? I sure as heck don't (for men OR for women). "

Or, if you're JKR (whom you seem to agree with): "Seems to me they want equality in any area that benefits them and none of the areas that don't."

These are all blanket statements about feminists that aren't really speaking to any sort of feminist consensus, nor (in my experience) even any kind of majority opinion in feminism. You guys are just arguing against what you think a feminist standpoint is.

I have no idea why you think Anita is passing herself off as the spokeswoman for feminism. She's one person with one opinion and she has never claimed to speak for all of feminism. As for why she is allowed to say what she says, why are you allowed to say what you say, or why am I allowed to say what I say, or Obama or Romney or anyone in the world allowed to say what they say, yada yada? Everyone is allowed to say what they say, and everyone who listens is allowed to agree or disagree. You seem to take some huge offense at an opinion being voiced that you don't agree with for some reason. The world works by lots of opinions being voiced and people deciding what they actually believe in.

What? I never said women are generally physically equal to men. I also don't really think it matters much, but I never said that.

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 02:18:20  - Edited by 
 on: 08/15/13, 02:22:50

Answer this right now: do women want to compete WITH MEN -- DIRECTLY -- in ONE division? THATS IT.

--Anita's thing is called "Feminist Frequency." What does THAT mean? It means what I think it means. If I had a podcast / whatever called "Facial Hair Frequency," what would you think I stood for or whatever? Would you consider me to be a monument of facial hair? Because that is how she's viewed as the LEADER of the FEMINIST FREQUENCY.

I'm allowed to say what I say? Yeah right, people tell me instantly how "thats the stupidest thing I've ever heard" or "thats the stupidest thing I've seen on this site" or "this better be a joke" or "you know, you're a bit of an asshole" or "wow, what a dick."

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 02:23:06

Great post, I feel it is wholly appropriate that her hair be her clothes and it makes sense that the amount of clothing be reduced as a result of using it for other things.

Think about it, you are out adventuring for days on end, do you really want to be carrying a luggage bag while under constant threat of attack, the clothes you are wearing would stink up pretty quickly so why not use magical hair? Throwing a doing laundry minigame/ clothes shopping minigame at the end of each stage would set Anita up for more arguments I am sure. At the end of the day a Witch who has magic hair that can take any form would probably find it very convenient to just slap on some hair clothes and be done with it.

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 03:48:41

Now you are getting really technical which I can relate to but I am going to take the description on her website and break it down for you.This is from the about section on her website.

Anita Sarkeesian is a media critic and the creator of Feminist Frequency, a video web series that explores the representations of women in pop culture narratives. Her work focuses on deconstructing the stereotypes and tropes associated with women in popular culture as well as highlighting issues surrounding the targeted harassment of women in online and gaming spaces.

Now the first part where it says she is a media Critic that means she looks at media in general and sees what is wrong with it and how it can be fixed. Next part is she is she made the web series and named it that. It probably has that catchy name for some reason so lets keep on going. Now this next part is important. It basically says that she looks at the ways women are being portrayed in in popular culture. She also looks at stereotypes and tropes in the gaming media and online and sees how they can be fixed. So in a nut shell she looks at ways that gaming culture can be improved for men and women by not sticking with stereotypes and tropes that can be hurtful to both genders from a by gone era of gaming.

I am sorry if what I said comes off as condescending or otherwise hurtful.

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 08:20:40
Mr_Mustache said:

Answer this right now: do women want to compete WITH MEN -- DIRECTLY -- in ONE division? THATS IT.

It'd be nice if there was a simple yes or no answer that spoke for ALL women or ALL men regarding ALL of life's disciplines, but this is one of gender equality's murkier subjects. It's one that'll likely get ironed out once the cultural aspects are dealt with... certainly not the most pressing issue.

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 12:11:30  - Edited by 
 on: 08/15/13, 12:39:28
Just gonna make one comment here on the Spelunky thing.

Spelunky does it in reference to the tales of old. The entire game is a love letter to Indiana Jones. It's not done in an offensive way and you can even change the damsel. This is why I get annoyed at Feminists because they do not care about context.

'Mario is offensive because the woman needs to be saved'
'NG3 is offensive because of boob jiggle'

Both of those games are Japanese and should not be compared to Western games unless you are a Japanese woman yourself.

You should start a Kickstarter for Facial Hair Frequency. I would totally back it.

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 12:31:06  - Edited by 
 on: 08/15/13, 12:33:43
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