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OT: Hey, let's discuss this video series about the Sarkeesian backlash! [roundtable]
 
Yep, I'm makin' it a roundtable.

Not to get too "political" on you, but I watched this six-part video series recently, and I thought it was really well-done. It may seem like a typical anti-GamerGate video at the start, but it isn't. It isn't even truly about Anita Sarkeesian. The analysis is very logical and even-handed, and I appreciated the way that it recast the whole feminism issue (or any social progress issue, really) by framing it from the perspective of the people whom it irritates. Honestly, it almost single-handedly repaired the damage done to my judgement by thousands upon thousands of strident internet-liberals.

Try to go in without any pre-conceived expectations and watch it with an open mind.








I'll give you the Cliffs Notes, in case you don't want to watch right now. Essentially, the video series analyzes WHY people like Anita Sarkeesian produce such a strong negative reaction, and it goes beyond the usual simplistic "They're taking our games!!" rhetoric. This guy posits that the REAL, underlying reason why Anita makes many gamers uncomfortable is that she causes them to question their way they've lived their life to this point. Ignorance is bliss, and the aim of people like Anita is to remove that ignorance. Like the term "privilege". A lot of people hate that term, and it's always rubbed me the wrong way, as well. But it doesn't mean that your life is peaches and cream or that every person from a minority has it tough. It just means that a minority person in the same position as you would have it harder, solely due to the way they were born.

That's an uncomfortable thought, as most people think of themselves as fundamentally good people, and acknowledging that you've never questioned your advantages or thought to help the less fortunate would call your own morality into question. And we're ALL guilty of that, to be honest. It's almost unnatural behavior to revolt against a system that personally benefits you. I mean, I don't like the thought of killing living creatures. I find the thought of hunting utterly revolting. I don't even swat mosquitoes or gnats. If I really considered the fact that animals had to die just so I could enjoy a hamburger, I'd probably be a vegetarian. So I don't WANT to consider it. Because meat is delicious!

Similarly, look at freaking FoxConn. All of our consumer electronics products are basically made of Chinese children. Who the fuck wants to think about that?! What's the alternative?

I'm not saying that I'm necessarily going to change my behavior based on this video series. I still believe that ignorance is bliss, and if you spend all of your time thinking about the evils of the world, your life's probably not going to be very enjoyable. But I still think it was worth watching. It kind of brought stuff that has always been floating at the back of my consciousness to the forefront. And what I most appreciate is that it did so in a non-judgmental way. It might make you a bit uncomfortable, but it definitely won't single you out.

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Posted: 07/23/15, 21:45:57  - Edited by 
 on: 07/30/15, 05:09:50
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@Zero

That's true, but I assumed IGN was more of an outlier. The comments sections on sites like GoNintendo generally seem pretty positive about games, and even the hit-or-miss NeoGAF has some surprisingly enthusiastic "OT" threads on most big titles.

Didn't know that about the porn industry. I guess I've only really seen backlash from the older Helen Lovejoy types from that rather than people our age.
Posted: 07/24/15, 23:36:24
Go Nintendo might have done ok being a Nintendo only site, but pretty much every multiplatform site I knew of was junk for Nintendo fans.
Posted: 07/24/15, 23:44:12
@Zero
I'm starting to think non-Nintendo fans just aren't happy people.
Posted: 07/24/15, 23:58:54
You can just look at any of our elimination polls to see people tear down games they hate/like less instead of propping up the games they love.

Now I know that's partly due to the format of those polls, but you can see it happening regularly in any thread where an argument about "which is best" springs up.
Posted: 07/25/15, 00:03:30
I feel like this is sort of an aside though. I do think a large part of why Hatred got attention from the press was the "controversy" angle, and frankly I feel like it became a self-fulfilling prophecy a bit. The press is far from perfect and they tend to take small controversies and make them big by talking about them a lot.

With that said is this automatically "clickbait?" I don't know. It's obviously a topic that a lot of readers wanted to read about as well. I'm not even sure how we are defining clickbait but I see it as more along the lines of purposely over the top titles that misrepresent what is inside a bit just to get people emotional and click. I don't think most of the articles on Hatred were like this.

But I can agree that the press is at its worst when fueling these things. I just don't see this as a case of what Gamergate complains about, ignoring the non-SJW games to promote only SJW games. They might also complain that games like Hatred get unfairly criticized, but that's a matter of opinion and that side of things tends to come from a refusal of acknowledgement that the content of games matters and not just the gameplay.
Posted: 07/25/15, 00:09:53  - Edited by 
 on: 07/25/15, 00:11:35
I don't care much about Polygon's Hatred coverage, and I didn't follow it.

My frame of reference is more stuff like the Bayonetta 2 review. I don't like Arthur Gies as a person after listening to him for a while on a podcast, yet there's nothing to indicate that his Bay-two review wasn't sincere, that he made up the issues he had with it. I don't see why in that one case it should be hypocritical, self-serving clickbait, yet when our T-Bun highlights his problem with a SMTxFE trailer, it's sincere.
Posted: 07/25/15, 00:15:44
Yeah I wasn't a fan of that review (not the him talking about sexism part or the score, just that I read it and felt like I still had no idea what the game was like) but the fact that it gets called clickbait is kind of silly. He had issues with Bayonetta 2's representations of women, he mentioned them. No reason to think this was some cynical ploy to get extra hits on his review.

Gamergate has this site that is purportedly to keep track of corrupt game journalists called Deep Freeze and it is hilarious. They consider writing clickbait articles corruption which fine, whatever, but then they essentially define anything that talks about racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. in ways they disagree with as clickbait, thus they label it as part of the corruption. It's so very transparent. I actually think that site is a good place to go if people want to get a sense of what Gamergate is really about... provided they use their good judgment when looking at who Gamergate is and isn't calling out and why versus just eating up the narrative. That site makes it super clear that "bad journo ethics" = is progressive and/or disagrees with Gamergate and "ethical alternative" = is anti-progressive and/or agrees with Gamergate.
Posted: 07/25/15, 00:35:28  - Edited by 
 on: 07/25/15, 00:38:41
@Guillaume
Well, me venting in a thread in kind of a casual way based on first impressions is different than a big mainstream review (which, like it or not, has gotten pretty important in determining sales of games). Most Bayo 2 players feel that its protagonist is actually good for women representation (or at worst, is okay enough for a pass) due to the over-the-top nature of the presentation. Of course, the guy's entitled to his opinion but it felt like he missed the point of the game pretty bad. And it wasn't an isolated article from Polygon.

Don't really know about this Hatred thing. I'm not sure what that even is. Is it a game?
Posted: 07/25/15, 00:37:18
@TriforceBun

Hatred was a game on Steam Greenlight where you play as a mass murderer and get points for killing innocent people. It was pretty gross. A bunch of sites played right into the developers' hands and covered the game because it was controversial, and the game got Greenlit due to all the traffic that was sent its way by those sites. The story is a little more complicated than that due to the game getting banned from Greenlight and then brought back, but it honestly shouldn't have been covered to begin with. Not when games like Snakebird get ignored.

At the same time, I've heard from writers that their articles about Hatred tend to get way, waaay more clicks than any articles about obscure indie games like Snakebird. So it's a crappy situation all around. But again, if these writers are gonna constantly be playing the moral judgement game, then they're susceptible to criticism when they give coverage to games that don't deserve it. And obscure games are only obscure because no one writes about them.
Posted: 07/25/15, 00:58:46  - Edited by 
 on: 07/25/15, 00:59:53
"Most Bayo 2 players feel" is sort of an odd way to look at it though, because it ignores the views of those who were turned off enough to not want to play the game, and yeah, without playing it they don't have the full context but it doesn't make their views irrelevant. Still, it's ok to feel he missed the point or whatever. That doesn't mean he is a corrupt clickbait journalist like Gamergate wants to label him for his review (and anyone else who disagrees with their views.) Just means he is a journalist who you disagree with.
Posted: 07/25/15, 01:14:11
Actually it's about ethics in whatever Mark Kern is doing.
Posted: 07/25/15, 06:58:18
@TriforceBun

You're conflating disagreeing with you with ignorance. You can say Peach is a positive female character and Zelda isn't a damsel in distress all you want, but you can't say that I'm ignorant for disagreeing with you when I've beaten every main Mario and Zelda game there is.
Posted: 07/25/15, 07:48:25
@pokepal148 Oh man Mark Kern is... I have no words.

@Jargon Yeah I mean the thing is at the end of the day whether game A, B or C has good or bad representations of women or is SEXIST or whatever is going to be an opinion. And it is fine that everyone has different opinions. Some opinions are more supportable than others but you know, people can have their opinions. The problems come when some people harass and threaten someone for having different opinions.
Posted: 07/25/15, 08:33:41  - Edited by 
 on: 07/25/15, 08:34:14
I saw this series earlier this week, and it really is fantastic. I should show it to my friend who's always complaining about "SJWs", but knowing him he'll be stubborn and either won't watch it or just continue to be an asshole.
Posted: 07/25/15, 08:39:09
@Secret_Tunnel
That toxoplasma article was interesting. (I'm so uninformed about current events that I had to research every single news bit mentioned.)

@Zero
These videos aren't actually a dissection of GamerGate. More of a psychological analysis of a typical GamerGate member.

@kriswright
Which parts did you find presumptuous? As far as the conservative radio point, I can't really comment, since I have no familiarity whatsoever with that culture.

@Jargon
I think he's right about Anita Sarkeesian's analyses, though. Her criticism is sometimes superficial. Not because she's dumb, but because she's only playing enough to be able to comment. My real problem with her videos, though, is the same problem that I have with most documentaries. She rarely considers counter-arguments. I think you can make a stronger case if you anticipate counter-arguments and address them. Or at least mention them, so that people don't think you're just arranging the data to fit your preset conclusion.

I can't deny that she's raised awareness of these issues, though. Feminism has entered the sphere of gaming discussion, thanks to her. AND games have actually started to move in the direction she wanted. So, regardless of how we feel about her methods or analysis, she's acheived something. (See, Anita? That's a well-rounded analysis!)

Still, these videos really aren't about Anita at all.

@TriforceBun
Honestly, I think psychology is the key to understanding or dealing with the underlying reasons for society's ills. In medical terms, it's like fixing your body chemistry, rather than taking pills to deal with symptoms.

@Brick
I wonder how many people watch the videos and grudgingly identify as Angry Jack.
Posted: 07/25/15, 16:29:58
@Anand

What kind of depth is missing from her discussion of Princess Peach, for example? I mean, the things she is talking about are themselves superficial in most cases and it's not like playing hours of a Mario game is going to teach you more about Peach's character. The fact that Peach might be a better character in some Paper Mario games doesn't change anything about the way she's handled in the mainline games she focused on. And you also have to take into account the format and that she's covering a lot of ground. Calling someone ignorant is a serious accusation.
Posted: 07/25/15, 17:06:35  - Edited by 
 on: 07/25/15, 17:20:31
@Jargon
I wasn't talking about Princess Peach, specifically. It's not like the Mario series is full of hidden motivations. Honestly, I can't remember the specific instances when I thought "Oh, that's kind of a superficial reading of that situation", since I haven't watched her videos for a while.

But "ignorant" isn't necessarily a pejorative. Everyone's ignorant about something. I mean, she definitely doesn't come across to me as someone who lives and breathes video games.

Like I said, though, that's not my main quibble with her analysis style. I'm not saying that her premise is incorrect. I just don't care for the way she frames it. I liked the "Why Are You So Angry" series because it pushed my mind in directions where it wouldn't normally go. Sarkeesian's videos play like a list of obvious, cherrypicked examples, like an essay written by a second-grader.

(Also, the "Why Are You So Angry" guy is a dude.)

Seriously, maybe I'm just not the audience for her videos. That's fine. Again, she's already made a difference, so it really doesn't matter what I think of the content of the videos. Just like it doesn't matter what I think of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift!
Posted: 07/25/15, 17:22:48  - Edited by 
 on: 07/25/15, 18:46:37
@Anand

It is certainly pejorative when the target is someone posting informative videos about a subject. And again, we may not know how well-versed she is in Nintendo games, but many people like me who agree with her are indisputably experts.

I couldn't make it through the first Why Are You So Angry? video. Not a fan of the genre.
Posted: 07/25/15, 17:29:40  - Edited by 
 on: 07/25/15, 17:30:12
@Anand@Jargon I feel like Peach in particular is absolutely horrible about the whole female stereotype thing but at the same time she's gone so far that I'm willing to accept it. It's really bizarre tbh.
Posted: 07/25/15, 18:07:04
@Jargon

And if you made a series of videos with more in-depth examples, I might find your position more compelling.

But in the meantime, I went ahead and rewatched the Damsel in Distress Sarkeesian vid and still had the same issues with it. On the note of Peach, she only focuses on the mainline games while giving the other games a tiny passing mention. The Mario RPGs showcase a great new side of Peach, a clever and focused character who often has the best emotional relationships in those games. And amidst the montage of all the male characters being crafty and busting out of prison, there's no mention of the fact that Peach did that very same thing in SMRPG, Paper Mario, and The Thousand-Year Door (and was playable in all three games).

But okay, the main platformers generally have Peach get kidnapped. It's frustrating to me to not acknowledge her more creative roles, but I can let it slide a bit since MOST of the time when we see her, Peach needs to be rescued by Bowser.

I take more umbrage with Zelda's treatment in the videos, which seems to ignore context entirely and only focuses on surface-level elements to support her argument. Anita is really bent on wanting to see Zelda as a fighter, but I always felt a largely appealing aspect of her character is that she doesn't have to kill stuff to be a hero. Zelda's the heart and brains of the series, whereas Link is kind of her errand boy. Zelda's not a physically strong character, and that's fine. She's consistently been shown to be forward-thinking and selfless when it comes to protecting Hyrule and her people from the very first Zelda (splitting up the Triforce to keep it safe).

I'll just do one example. Remember the scene in OoT where Zelda and Impa are being chased by Ganondorf? In this sequence, Ganondorf has wreaked havoc in Hyrule Castle and is pursuing Impa and Zelda; he's already killed several guards and the king and there's no question that our princess's life is in danger. Zelda (who at the time is like 10 years old, by the way) sees Link and makes a quick decision to hurl the Ocarina of Time into the castle moat so that Link could retrieve it. Even in the midst of this life-threatening situation, Zelda is still thinking of the fate of Hyrule; the idea is that even if she's captured or killed, Ganondorf won't have access to the Ocarina. It's a noble act and a perfect display of Zelda's character, and there are plenty of examples like this throughout the series. That scene was displayed during the video as an example of how weak Zelda is, but I see it as the exact opposite, and it frustrates me how stuff like this is ignored because oh my goodness she gets kidnapped in the last 5% of the game.

That's what I mean by context and cherry-picking stuff; Anita is unfairly doing surface-level studies of Zelda. That's why I feel that it's fair to call her uninformed--she has not, in these videos at least, displayed a sufficient amount of comprehension of the games and their stories to make her arguments really work, IMO. She's super focused on the question of "Why isn't Zelda a fighter?" while ignoring the character that she actually is in the games. And there are plenty of examples of Zelda being clever, tactical and/or selfless throughout the series, with only Sheik and Tetra (briefly) mentioned in the video.
Posted: 07/25/15, 18:49:55  - Edited by 
 on: 07/25/15, 18:51:04
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