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Tropes Vs Women in Video Games, Somehow a Controversy? (+ general gender / video game discussion)
[locked]
News reported by 
Editor-in-chief
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?
 
There are a lot of different controversies going on right now surrounding women and video games. Attempted rape in the new Tomb Raider game, booth babes at E3, the Hitman "nuns" trailer, that woman who did the Ubisoft conference being trolled... All at the same time. And I don't think women are being treated worse this year by the industry in general than in other years, people just talk about it more. Which is definitely a good thing. The industry desperately needs to be more inclusive of women, I think the focus on hyperviolent shooters during the various E3 conferences have shown that.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 18:05:29  - Edited by 
 on: 06/14/12, 18:13:35
Yeah, video games need more strong female leads like Sa...



Never mind.

Someone had to get this out of the way, now carry on.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 18:09:05
I sort of wish I had followed on that Tomb Raider rape thing because having just read about it this morning here, this is definitely blown out of proportion. It sort of remembers me when Matt Casamassina was talking about Killer7's full blown out sex scene and how Jack Thompson went batshit insane back then cause of stuff like this. There was no sex scene and what he was talking about was fully clothed people with the woman dry humping a guy. Yes, that's a sex scene alright.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 18:11:31
@VofEscaflowne

Some people here don't think highly of Jim Sterling but his take on the situation is hard to disagree with.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 18:13:17
VofEscaflowne said:
I sort of wish I had followed on that Tomb Raider rape thing because having just read about it this moaning here, this is definitely blown out of proportion. It sort of remembers me when Matt Casamassina was talking about Killer7's full blown out sex scene and how Jack Thompson went batshit insane back then cause of stuff like this. There was no sex scene and what he was talking about was fully clothed people with the woman dry humping a guy. Yes, that's a sex scene alright.
I swear I read your post like this, unintentionally.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 18:16:25
@Guillaume I kind of naturally rebel against accepting the "both sides are right and both sides are wrong" viewpoint, but that was very well written. Basically he seems to be saying don't instantly jump into an argument without actually trying to understand the other side of things.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 18:25:13
@Guillaume

Well he explains both point of views well enough. I honestly don't care about the direction it's taken. It's a more serious tone on her being forced to survive such harsh conditions, whether it be from the environment itself or other humans, and how she becomes the person that she is. I'm comfortable with that and I've been a Tomb Raider fan since the beginning (though I haven't played the last console game). But one of the comments says it right too. Stick a woman in a video game and there will always be controversy it seems. It's such a rare occurrence these days anyway and any time they're portrayed as having some kind of human emotion, people will be there to pick on it.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 18:29:00
I'm not sure what she's going to do with 100 grand, but I'm all for the study.

The Internet can really be a pathetic and scary place.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 18:37:35
I love playing video games but Iím regularly disappointed in the limited and limiting ways MEN are represented. I know women get a far worse partial, but men are mostly stupid meat-heads. The whole industry needs to develop better characterisation for everyone.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 18:41:32
@Cube191 This is true as well, but I think it's a bit different. I just read something (forget where) that tackled this issue and they stated that the ridiculous portrayal of men in video games involves male power fantasies (big, badass dudes) so it is still being done for men, whereas the ridiculous portrayal of women in video games... is also for men (huge breasts, not much clothing, etc.)

Generally speaking, of course. You can find tons of exceptions.

But yeah, one interesting thing about Heavy Rain for me was that I was, at times, playing as an older, overweight detective with health issues. You usually don't get a character so obviously "flawed". Of course, it turns out that (don't read if you don't want Heavy Rain spoiled!!!) he's a bad dude. Kind of ruined the character for me.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 18:50:29  - Edited by 
 on: 06/14/12, 18:52:51
Jim Sterling said:
That Crystal Dynamics felt the best way to make us care about Lara was to stick her, smack her, and have rape attempts made on her, does risk communicating the message that a woman is only as good as the shit she's been dragged through, and again, I can see why that is an issue.

I wish this quote could be read by every single person making or consuming media today.

Good, mature points throughout. The good version of Jim Sterling got out of bed the day he wrote that article. Thanks for linking to it, Gui.

Not sure at all why someone would be offended by that Kickstarter. In a world where Kratos shoves a woman in some gears to prop open a door, can it really be controversial that some feminist wants to make a game exploring how women have generally been mistreated in games? Isn't it nearly impossible to deny the basic point?

Now, whether or not some kind of pissy harangue from a feminist game developer is going to change anything is highly debatable, but I don't see how it could be controversial.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 19:08:33
I don't think she is a developer, is she? And we will have to wait and see as to whether it is a pissy harangue, but I get the sense that she puts a bit more thought into her stuff than most people.

Still, admittedly, I haven't really checked out any of her past media yet.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 19:10:50
@Zero

Also the fact that his character talks to himself, trying to figure out the case, and HE's the bad guy Heavily (lol) flawed game but still had amazing segments to play (lol again) through.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 19:13:14
Well... yeah. Honestly I'm not the biggest fan of Heavy Rain, it was fun but it had a lot of flaws. I kind of felt like it was a step down from Indigo Prophecy in many ways.

But that's not what this thread is about!


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 19:17:58
@Zero

Okay. Didn't do my research and made some assumptions. Not really fair of me.

I'm not sure why someone needs 100,000 dollars to make a webseries, though. What's that all about? But I guess she convinced enough backers to do it, so good for her, I guess. She must know what she's doing.

Kickstarter is a funny thing. As an independent musician, I'd have loved to have had something like Kickstarter when I was starting out, working toward my goals of developing a studio and getting a band together. Heck, I could still use it in many ways. But I really wonder if this is going to become simply a way B and C-list talent exploit gullible people on the internet. Why get a bank loan or take any financial risk when you can simply write a compelling pitch and get nickel-and-dime donations from people who fall for it? I'm not keenly aware of the process, but is there accountability on Kickstarter? How could you enforce it?

This isn't to say Kickstarter is bad, in itself, but I wonder if it'll burn out in a few years. I'd love to see it help out young filmmakers, musicians and dreamers, but I wonder if it'll end up enabling a bunch of worthless L.A. hacks, instead.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 19:43:17  - Edited by 
 on: 06/14/12, 19:44:22
I believed she only asked for $6,000. She got over $100,000 (probably, ironically, because of the press she is getting from all of the haters hating on her.) I honestly have no idea how Kickstarter works when you get way more than you asked for. Do you just get to pocket the excess? If so she just made a cool $100k (probably, ironically, because of her haters yada yada...)

Dang!

Anyway yeah, it probably could be exploited. Really, if you're going to send money to someone, you should probably find out something about them first! But this is someone who has been creating media for awhile now. She has a bunch of her videos up on Youtube. So I'm pretty sure she will do something with this money.

The $6,000 that is. As for the rest... who knows? A part of me says that even if she does just get to pocket it, good for her. You just know it has to eat away at her haters...


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 20:03:44  - Edited by 
 on: 06/14/12, 20:04:33
Cube191 said:
I love playing video games but Iím regularly disappointed in the limited and limiting ways MEN are represented. I know women get a far worse partial, but men are mostly stupid meat-heads. The whole industry needs to develop better characterisation for everyone.

This. Just this.

I'm all for social advancements of any and every kind and I've been studying mass media/communications/etc for over a decade. Everyone talks about and studies the portrayal of women in the media. It is NOT an area of study that lacks attention (or needs more funding!!). Know what (relatively) no one is looking at? The portrayal of men... in anything.

"But NinSage, that's cuz the portrayal of men doesn't need analysis. Men are always portrayed awesomely!" Incorrect. It's just not on our radar because no one brings it up.

As you watch TV or play video games, try mentally swapping the gender roles and/or expectations. You'd be amazed at the double standards. Also, try swapping the side your mental devil advocates. In other words, if a woman plans to seduce (sex, flirting, anything in between) a man to get what she wants, why is that not her OUTSMARTING him? Why is that not an example of the male WEAKNESS when it comes to sexual temptation? Why, instead, is it almost always viewed as some kind of feminine "sell out" or "slut out" to be more vivid?

Why is the best way for any male to solve a problem always aggression? If a man said "let's put our weapons down and talk about this," would he be viewed as sophisticated, classy and intellectual? Or would he be a "pussy"?

Lastly, as Cube191 said, when the spectrum of males portrayed in video games widens, then yes, by all means, let's do the same for females. But to act like one side is worth examining while the other is not? That's just naive.

PS - re:Booth Babes. It's stupid. It's sad. But it is a stupid, sad reality that:
A) More men attend events like these.
B) Men are more susceptible (read:weaker to) visual stimulation that women are.
C) Business people do not care about gender issues. They care about attracting attention. They will more than happily EXPLOIT the female body to EXPLOIT the male attraction to it.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 20:05:17  - Edited by 
 on: 06/14/12, 20:08:59
@NinSage, really great post! I've got nothing to add, I just like what you said.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 20:16:32
NinSage said:
Everyone talks about and studies the portrayal of women in the media. It is NOT an area of study that lacks attention (or needs more funding!!).

In general? Or in video games? Because it is definitely a very understudied thing in video games and I totally disagree that it shouldn't be more funded. Actually the interesting thing about her project to me is that I don't really know of anything like it.

As for studying male representations in video games, I think that's kind of a red herring. Because neither she nor I nor anyone else has suggested that no one should study the portrayal of men in video games. But it doesn't really make much sense (to me) to point to someone trying to study something that is important to study (and maybe you disagree here, but I think it is VERY important to study how women are portrayed in video games) and try to negate the worth of that study because it isn't all-encompassing. You're a graduate student, right? Or finished? You probably have a pretty good understanding of how research works. No research stands alone nor should it, it becomes a part of a body of research and the more it can nail down a specific thing, the more it adds to that body of research. Trying to take on too much in a single project just leads to a diluted mess. And when you go to your advisor and suggest that you want to study say... the plight of Japanese immigrants in the 1940s in America... they don't say "you better throw in the Germans and the Irish too!"


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 20:19:34  - Edited by 
 on: 06/14/12, 20:22:51
@NinSage

You make some good points. I mean, booth babes only exist because the corporations who put them there are trying to attract the attention of men. So there's a point to be made that men are being even more exploited because they aren't a willing party in the matter. At least the women who participate have a choice to get involved and are getting paid to do their job. If a man at one of these conferences wants to focus on the games and not some jiggly breasts, well, that's his problem. "What kind of man are you if you don't want to look at some jiggly breasts?" So there're three parties in this case, the company, the booth babes and the men in the audience. It is interesting to point out that men are generally assumed to get off on booth babes - a clear stereotype.

Still, I don't agree that the portrayal of women in the media gets enough attention. Oh, it's talked about more than the portrayal of men. I'll give you that. But how often are clear, cogent arguments made in that discussion? I rarely hear them. And then how much has it really changed the way media is created? Some progress since the late 60s, but not nearly enough.

So... I guess I'm simply saying that if we want to talk about the exploitation or terrible depiction of men in media, let's not do it at the expense of pushing for better depictions of women.

And I don't agree about that "outsmarting" thing, mainly because those scenes are usually less about what the characters are doing and more about serving the male audience's sex fantasies (I'm thinking, say, Basic Instinct or something like that, anyway). A smart character can still be used in an exploitative way and I think it'd be disingenuous to justify any exploitative female character just because the writer checked a box and showed she had a few brains, before getting down to the business of exploiting her body for profit.


Posted by 
 on: 06/14/12, 20:29:12
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