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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    
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Extra! Extra! Feminists do not care about context!


This campaign has been very carefully and intelligently thought out. From what I gather she is not angry at Spelunky rather she is angry that Spelunky is yet another disappointing example of game devs in their default (damsel) setting. I can see how they are more focused on game play and other things but this is the kind of shake-up the industry needs to get them thinking about OTHER plot devices. Shouldn't be too hard. And you don't need to take offence just because you enjoy these games. I enjoy 'em, but I can see the need for a shake-up.

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 13:02:44  - Edited by 
 on: 08/15/13, 13:04:55
Of course it's going to be the default setting though if it is trying to mimic Indiana Jones!

Also quoting this for correctness.

Super_Conzo said:
Extra! Extra! Feminists do not care about context!

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 13:14:28
Zero said:
@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.

Not to butt into your guys debate however reading over most of it, why don't you outline the belief system you are advocating then. It seems a bit of a cop out to rebut nearly everything he comes up with by saying some variation of the above, without ever establishing some sort of baseline you can actually have a discussion about.

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 15:23:35
@Pokefreak911 I think Anita mentions that (referring to parody/satire). I think she said that even if something is done in parody, it still isn't excused as something that perpetuates tropes against women (something like Super Meat Boy, for instance).

That's kind of silly to me. Something like Super Meat Boy is a love letter to retro games, where yes, the female was captured all the time. Maybe Super Meat Boy could've turned the trope on its head a bit more, sure, but it's hard to take the game's 'message' seriously when you're a boy with no skin trying to rescue a bandage girl from a fetus. It's just too aware of itself to really be considered offensive.

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 18:40:06  - Edited by 
 on: 08/15/13, 18:40:33

Nobody should assume that desiring equality means that the people desiring it are assuming there are no differences between the groups across which equality should be applied. Wanting "equal rights" is not mutually exclusive from thinking that there should be athletic competitions exclusive to men and to women.

This is so obvious that I don't know why it even needs to be stated, but apparently it does whenever these conversations come up.

Sexual dimorphism is real, obviously. I don't know any feminists that deny basic physiology or biology. Bringing up athletic competitions within discussions of sex or gender equality is ridiculously reductive and completely misses the point. For all of the biological differences that exist between men and women, there are far more similarities. So when most feminists are talking about wanting equality, it's nothing so banal as, "why aren't there women competing in the same athletic competitions as men." It's equality of access to employment opportunities, representation in politics, media, etc.

Again, it's difficult to state the "goals of feminism" since the term these days is so broad. But if you're looking at physical competitions and lamenting feminism or an apparent lack of it within that sphere, you're already missing the point, and missing it widely.


I think we're largely on the same page, though again, I don't remember there being much outrage over Bayonetta. Some articles, sure, but nothing like the Tomb Raider fervor.


The reason that she gets naked is absolutely explained in game. The fact that her hair is her clothing and that she needs to be nude to be the most powerful she can be is "the issue," though again, I don't think it's much of an issue at all.

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 20:02:45  - Edited by 
 on: 08/15/13, 20:04:15

I don't think there was as much outrage either, but my main point is that people are reading way too much into it. Like you said, the fact that she has to "be naked to be as powerful as she can be" is something I don't really agree with. Even if that were the case, I don't see what the big deal is. Nevertheless, I do see where people are coming from. I think that is basically people wanting to impose their beliefs on other people. Like how here if you are covered in tattoos you're usually seemed as a menace to society or a gangster, but in certain Polynesian societies, it is perfectly fine and encouraged. And who are you to say to those people "no, you can't cover your face with tatoos", really?

Sometimes I feel like some concepts of identity politics; i.e. "black" and "feminist" issues are doing more harm than good to their contingency. Furthering the black agenda does more to differentiate ourselves and try to highlight perceived differences instead of working towards a future without to much separation and true integration, without perceived stereotypes. I will agree that the civil rights act was a great starting point, but racism will never really be erased from society as long as we do our best to keep certain ideas alive.

Yes, governments around the world have either killed female or black babies (I'll provide proof later) as well as declared females who were open about their sexuality deviants and lunatics (again, I'll provide proof later) but I feel that at this point, since there are effectively more women than men in this country, we should work towards eliminating certain barriers we have in this country, especially the ones we put up ourselves. Like Kanye said, "they made us hate ourselves and love their wealth." I know I'm juggling many concepts here but the basic idea is that race, and even gender is something that is created by society, especially when talking about the roles of both men and women, and how each should act. And that identity politics: "I'm black and I'm proud" does more to maintain a rift between society than it does to truly unite people in the long run. Anyway, I'll stop now since I have to get ready to go to work.

By the way, Tomb Raider is another example of poor, disingenuous advertising. People where up in arms over a rape scene that never actually happens, in a game where Lara spends her time finding new and interesting ways to kill men and animals...

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 20:19:26  - Edited by 
 on: 08/15/13, 20:31:48

I don't think what you said is hurtful. Where would I be hurt?

If "its just a name," I guess its just a name. There was that band "The Presidents of the United States of America," but they weren't really Presidents of the United States of America.. I dunno. She has..FRAMED herself and her "cause" -- purposefully or not -- as THE VOICE for Feminists. The name of her deal doesn't help. The way she talks in her videos, it is positioned as "this is how all feminists feel," again, whether her intent or not. As vocal as she is on Twitter and everything, she is pretty much the figurehead of "women in gaming." If she's just "some lady with one opinion," why do we care so much?? What makes her opinion heavier than someone else who doesn't have a Kickstarter backed project? I get that this is her project and what we're talking about..but if her opinion isn't any more important than anyone else's....

See what I'm getting at here?


I'm just curious what people think (as OMW is, too). What I said before, there DEFINITELY should be divisions between men and women in sports (and other physical activities) because they simply AREN'T equal. Thats not a knock, I don't know why its always taken as one. For me, I have no desire to see huge men BEAT THE CRAP out of women, or leave them in their dust. Again, I'm not saying that a woman CAN'T beat a man, because I certainly believe they can, but if you're getting a 10/90 or 02/98 split..who wants to watch that?

Danica Patrick drives NASCAR with the guys, and yes, she CAN succeed some day. Just not yet (she's very green). Thats also using "reflexes" and "driving ability," and not necessarily "strength" or "speed." She's sitting in a car, and the car is doing the "real" work. Shirley Muldowney did EXTREMELY well in NHRA for years as a Drag Racer. I think that women can do well with this stuff, but not in organized stick and ball sports.

That said, know that there are no rules against women playing in the NFL. A female Kicker tried out for the Jets earlier this year. Guess how that went? Spoiler: she injured herself kicking..


Consider it done. I WISH! I wonder how much cash I could get off of people just because they'd appreciate the spoofness of it all. HMM!


..What do you think of the transsexual MMA fighter with women? Why?


I agree 100% with you on that race stuff. Oprah mentioning that a woman wouldn't show her a $38,000 bag in Switzerland and framed it as a racist act makes myself -- and many others -- shake their head at Oprah. Why does EVERYTHING have to be race related? Haha, are the Swiss even familiar with racism? I have no idea.

Posted by 
 on: 08/15/13, 23:35:09  - Edited by 
 on: 08/15/13, 23:43:42
That's 100% silly. Humor is humor and censoring it is ludicrous. If humor had boundaries and was forced to be PC all the time this world would be a somber place.

Posted by 
 on: 08/16/13, 10:29:59
I just want to say that I believe that the reaction to Dragon's Crown is horseshit, and here's why: From everything I've heard, George Kamitani is, in addition to being a fantastic, unique artist, a huge pervert. Like, he sends out erotic hand-drawn Christmas cards every year. Looking at how stuff might be received is one thing, but, at least in the case of Dragon's Crown, that is HIS ART. He doesn't seem to be pandering to anyone. He's just drawing what he really loves, like the dude who draws Heavy Metal-esque pictures in History class.

So the Amazon would be equally effective with more sensible clothing? Who gives a fuck? That's how he wanted to draw her. And he's the artist. Artists have been free to make erotic stuff for quite a while. Seriously, imagine what the feminist reception of Birth of Venus would be. Gender roles, etc., etc. No game will appeal to everyone. But this game might just be like 100 Christmases to someone with an overmuscled fetish.

When I was a kid, I read a book about an art school where one side character would hide a camel in every one of his paintings, regardless of whether it was appropriate. And he would get dinged for it every time, until his teacher threatened to expel him if he did it again. So he drew his final piece with no camels. But it turned out totally soulless, so he scrapped the whole thing and drew a painting of only lovingly rendered camels. Camels as far as the eye could see. For George Kamitani, THIS is that moment. Scantily-clad women are his camels.

Seriously, if games are art or certain components of them CAN be art, trying to impede Kamitani's natural instincts is a violation of his freedom of speech and a rejection of the artistic muse within his soul. That's dangerous territory. People are free to have whatever reaction they want and buy whatever they want as individuals, but singling out each creator and muse-shaming/bullying them is shitty.

Thank you. Vote Libertarian in 2016.

Posted by 
 on: 08/16/13, 15:36:27  - Edited by 
 on: 08/17/13, 00:49:14

I think it's interesting, but not especially so. I don't know what that has to do with anything, or why anyone would see that and assume it has anything to do with what feminists want.


First of all, comparing Kamitani and Dragon's Crown to Botticelli and The Birth of Venus is straight up ridiculous.

Secondly, who is trying to impede Kamitani's natural instincts? Not only is he free to express himself, in this particular example he's being paid to do so. People are equivalently free to react to his art in any way they see fit. But freedom of expression is not a one way street, one is not entitled to make an art and receive no commentary in return.

So who's trying to impede him? He's free to create whatever he wants in whatever context he chooses. But his art is being made for a product that's intended for mass consumption, and the market is reacting to it as a product. I fail to see the problem here, and I think it's perfectly natural to react to a game that's been marketed as okay for 13 year olds to receive the reaction that Dragon's Crown is getting considering the art that's in it.

Posted by 
 on: 08/16/13, 18:14:04

While that is a decent defense I do not think that excuses the game as a whole. The way they are pushing this game is to advertise the hell out of a choice few images. Now as a one off game it might not matter as it will come out, some people will play it, and within a year most people except the most hardcore fans will not even think about it. What is troubling is that stuff like this is more common than it should be and it is so because of the history of medium.

I don't begrudge anyone their titillation but I can tell you that advertising the game like this instantly is going to push people away and not just women. I can't take Dragon's Crown too seriously when this is the way they have chosen to present it. The reasons for why I anticipate a game vary from title to title but typically it will be pedigree of the series/developer, or premise of the game. All I can tell you about Dragon's Crown is that it has a witch with enormous breasts. I don't even know what the genre is, some kind of RPG maybe?

Stuff like Dragon's Crown is short-sighted. Yes they are going to get some more sales from some people because of the sex appeal. Ultimately though games like this limit their audience purely through their visual styling and marketing. That's the root problem here.

Posted by 
 on: 08/16/13, 18:25:41
Mr_Mustache said:
For me, I have no desire to see huge men BEAT THE CRAP out of women

Few do (I hope ), but in the context of this thread, OMW showed us two women, in the same weight class, performing in a legal fight with rules, standards, regulations and a referee.
Surely no worse than watching Serena Williams destroy an opponent at a grand slam?

Posted by 
 on: 08/16/13, 18:58:17
It is a shame you've written the game off based on it's advertising. The actual game itself is friggin' fantastic. I can't stop thinking about it when I'm at work...

99% of the titilation art comes in the form of the player using either the Sorceress or the Amazon. But you certainly don't have to use the Sorceress or the Amazon. There are 4 other characters to choose from.

I play as a Wizard in one game and a Knight in another. You will see the occasional piece of artwork that is hyper-sexualized, but most of it is of mythical creatures or mice in a wizard's hat. The witch that repairs your equipment is a sexy-art you're going to see for a couple of seconds every time you go into town, but 99% of the time, there is nothing sexy or offensive on my screen. (Unless you're offended by the impossibly large (armor-clad) torso the fighter sports...)

When I choose NPC's to accompany me, I just don't choose the Sorceress or Amazon again.

The advertising kind of infers that this stuff is going to be in your face all the time, but it need not be when you're actually playing the game.

My 15-yo daughter loves this game too - she plays as the normally-proportioned, conservatively clothed female elf. I was initially concerned when she said she wanted to play it, but she's got a good head on her shoulders and I had a chat with her up front about some of the imagery that was in this game and the general depiction of women in the game. She was like "pfft, I'm not going to get an eating disorder, Dad, I like food too much." She actually has a good laugh every time a sexy drawing pops up.

She also discovered something I hadn't seen. She called me in to the room the other day to check something out. In town, you can hit NPC villagers. They react, but they can't die. If you get carried away, you're thrown in jail. She likes the dude with the basket of apples - when you hit him, he drops all his apples and then picks them all up again. Anyways, she called me in because there's this one maiden with reasonably large breasts. When you hit her, she jerks backwards and her breasts have a HUGE sway to the side and back again. She thought this particular animation was hilarious enough that she had to call me in to check it out. Needless to say, she's not finding the game offensive, just ridiculous in (very occasional) parts.

Posted by 
 on: 08/16/13, 19:12:29  - Edited by 
 on: 08/16/13, 19:16:14
Mr_Mustache said:

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.

Well if that's true, shouldn't the main event players win more money than the undercard players? Do the Nationwide series winners get the same amount as the Nascar bunch? (Curious, I don't actually know.)


Sure, they're blanket statements, but in the same way "feminist" is. If you're going around calling yourself a feminist, you have to realize you are lumping yourself with a broader crowd with certain "baseline" attitudes. If I say I'm a "communist" then you have a good idea of what I'm about, right? Sure I may not be hardcore communist, like Joe down the street, but if I actually believe more in Socialism then saying I'm a self-proclaimed communist is probably not the best move.

(I'm not a communist, but if communism worked in spite of the character flaws of human beings I would totally be one. Seems awesome.)

Posted by 
 on: 08/16/13, 19:21:34

It's not so much that I wrote it off but that the only association I have with it is 'that game with ridiculous witch'. If it is really good I might check it out but that doesn't change the fact that I learned more from your post than any other piece of advertisement. Does that not seem problematic to you? To have an otherwise good game completely rely on sexual imagery in order to entice people to buy in to it? Worse yet, to have a decent product behind that yet turn people away because they aren't interested in what they are shown?

Posted by 
 on: 08/16/13, 19:42:46

If all you've seen about the game had been hyper-sexualized ads, then yeah, that's unfortunate and I certainly see the problem with that.

I had seen a LOT of stuff about this game that had nothing to do with sexy witches, so I can't say I had the same experience with pre-release exposure to this game as you did.

Heck, even the box-art should tell you there's more to this game than a busty witch...

I'm not saying the advertising didn't have a lot of "sex sells" going on, but it certainly wasn't the only thing being advertised. Maybe that was just the only thing that caught your eye? Which kind of says something about the justification for the reason they went that direction with a lot of the advertising...

"Here's this super-awesome game!"


"And... BOOBS!"

*excitement* *controversy* *exposure* *press* *name-recognition*

Posted by 
 on: 08/16/13, 19:58:49  - Edited by 
 on: 08/16/13, 20:11:15

I agree that he should be free to create his art in any way he chooses, whether it's erotic or not, or tasteful to some or not. But like any art, people are free to comment about their like or dislike of it, too.

I don't think it's fair to say his art-style is strictly erotic though. More like his art-style is "Exaggeration". If a character has big muscles, they have REALLY big muscles. If a character has big boobs, they have REALLY big boobs. If a character has big armour, they have REALLY big armour. If a character has a big beard, they have a REALLY big beard.

Posted by 
 on: 08/16/13, 20:27:04  - Edited by 
 on: 08/16/13, 20:30:27

Pretty awesome, brah. Dropping some Botticelli up in heeeere!

Yeah, I gotta agree; we can't have "videogames are art" conversations followed by "why are they drawn like this?" Lots of nude women in the Renaissance stuff. Nudity Galore.


Again..this is the next closest thing to a woman and a man competiting directly. So far, the former man is 3-0. Could they just be fighting creampuffs? I guess so, but doesn't it seem more likely that the God-given male gender stuff is playing a role? I can't imagine a woman fighting a fully trained 100% male fighter.


Serena Williams is a whole 'nother thing. Like I said, I'm CERTAIN there are women out there who CAN beat men (and tennis is less physical than MMA, surely).. Ooh, lemme find a vid:

nacthenud said:
She was like "pfft, I'm not going to get an eating disorder, Dad, I like food too much."


NASCAR has a weird payout system, but as you put it...YES, the bigger guys get more money than the undercard guys. More overtly, the Cup races have MUCH larger purses than the Nationwide races. In NASCAR, "who you are" determines how much of that purse you get. You can be a nobody and finish in the Top 5, and still make less than Jimmie Johnson (5-time champ..gosh, is it 6?? Anyway..) finishing 25th. REALLY.

Posted by 
 on: 08/16/13, 20:59:13

You're completely missing my point. The fact that you're so hung up on athletic competitions when it comes to this is totally bizarre. I mean since we're talking about Serena Williams, she said she wouldn't win a point against Andy Murray, so it's not like even the best female tennis player ON EARTH is hung up on sexual dimorphism when it comes to athletics. Maybe you shouldn't be either. It's a huge strawman.

Posted by 
 on: 08/17/13, 00:12:12
Well, like I said, consumers are always free to buy/not buy or even criticize whatever they want. I guess the whole game journalism (which is not really part of 'the market') backlash is what bugs me. Like, making a big issue out of the game. Although free speech indicates that they are also free to say what they want, it often feels like a vicious cycle of phony, shitty clickbait in practice. But maybe that's just my bias.

Also, I didn't directly compare Dragon's Crown to Birth of Venus. I'm just pointing out the difference in context between those times and the modern day and the possible homogenizing effect of an overly sensitive world.

I guess exaggeration might be a better word to describe Kamitani's style. Hyper-stylized, maybe?

Posted by 
 on: 08/17/13, 01:04:39
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