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Anita Sarkeesian's gaming series opens with Damsel in Distress

Anita Sarkeesian's gaming series opens with Damsel in Distress

Fri 08 Mar 2013 8:22am GMT / 3:22am EST / 12:22am PST
People

Video: Feminist Frequency's Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games under way

The first episode of Anita Sarkeesian's video series on gaming: Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games, has been published to her Youtube channel.

Damsel in Distress deals with the ubiquitous representation of women as imperilled victims, constantly in need of a dashing hero to rescue them from towers, dungeons and the arms of evildoers.

Sarkeesian has produced a number of video series covering various aspects of feminism and the representation of women in the media, but came to the attention of the games industry when she launched a Kickstarter campaign for her latest series.

Despite enduring tides of sexist, racist and generally horrendous threats and abuse, Sarkeesian refused to be intimidated, ending her campaign having soared past her initial funding target, using the invective flung at her to draw further attention to the attitudes displayed by many gamers towards females in both games and wider life.

110 Comments

Kevin Danaher
Associate Producer

45 62 1.4
Really interesting first episode!
I think a major problem is not the deliberate dis-empowering of women as an excuse to advance the plot line but the fact that this is rarely equal. Fair enough, show a woman being dis-empowered to advance the plot here but why not show the same of a man to advance the plot of a female character there?

I think ideally we need to create stories and characters that reflect the kind of equality we'd all like to see in the real world, strong male and female characters, weak male and female characters. In fact, let's not focus on gender at all and just create some really deep and interesting characters with intertwined stories that don't rely so much on stereotyping. Personally I play as female characters in every RPG that allows me (Mass Effect, Elder Scrolls, etc.) because I find the idea of a kick ass female protagonist just as interesting as that of a male one. I don't have to be the same gender to relate to a heroes journey if it's delivered well enough and therefore I feel like I'm along for the ride.
Can't wait to see part two.

Posted:A year ago

#1

Jesse Penning
Content manager

6 3 0.5
There's a significant amount of analysis on the Japanese market. I think it bears mentioning that culture plays a role in this. In japanese games you'll find a significant lack of diversity. Racially, North American games have average representation but less female representation, while Japanese games have no racial diversity, but a significant amount of women. The issue is that in Japanese culture women are submissive, docile and relegated to possession status due to centuries of history of this.

Posted:A year ago

#2

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
The issue is that in Japanese culture women are submissive, docile and relegated to possession status due to centuries of history of this.
To be fair to Japan, this is not a uniquely Japanese attitude and is present, to a somewhat lesser degree, in Western culture also.

Posted:A year ago

#3

Christopher Bowen
Editor in Chief

405 534 1.3
With all due respect to Ms. Sarkeesian as a woman, I lost respect for her work in the past due to the fact that it was so poorly researched and reached so badly. She will have to do a lot to bring me back into the fold, even if I agree with her larger point.

Posted:A year ago

#4

Alex V
Executive Editor

10 12 1.2
I don't see anything worth $150K here. Not to mention the money she'll make off YouTube ads as a partner from these videos. Hope everyone who donated feels this is even remotely worth it.

Posted:A year ago

#5

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
I donated, and I do, so thanks!

Posted:A year ago

#6

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

633 239 0.4
Prince of Persia is the only non-Japanese game mentioned. After watching the video, i feel that she did not say anything new and it was repetitive.

Posted:A year ago

#7

Matt Ernst
Studying Culinary Arts

24 20 0.8
$150,000 for a blog with an added intro, more makeup, and a different background. This is quite a Snake Oil sale here. Also the disabling of ratings and comments just shows how she's not confident in her opinion because if she was, and if she cared, she would be actively looking for a discussion, even on youtube, and she would try to convince skeptics of her opinion through discussion. She could use that Kickstarter money on developing or producing her own game, but what happens instead? An intro and months of delay for a blog. I wish I could have conned people like that and be defended by journalists by showing them a handful of hateful and trolling comments in a sea of constructive criticism and logical disagreements, thanks to the comment pending approval button in the Video Manager Advanced Settings. Anything else I want to say can be found in this video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LpFk5F-S_hI

Posted:A year ago

#8

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
Popular Comment
Wow, there sure are some people upset about a successful project funding drive here! Comments from us backers are all pretty positive so far, and the rest of you get a free video series you are welcome to not watch if it offends you, so questioning the 'worthiness' of Sarkeesian's funding comes off as more than a little envious. Nobody was conned here.

And Matt, Anita received more than 'a handful' of trolling comments - she got hundreds of rape and death threats, some sick jerk made a game devoted to punching her in the face, her websites were hacked and defaced, she received hundreds of thousands of obscene, hateful and horrendously misogynistic comments and emails, she was photoshopped into degrading and awful pornographic images - and all for what? Questioning the way women are depicted in videogames and viewed by pop culture? The gross overreaction to her project just highlights the undercurrent of vicious misogyny so many women are subjected to for having opinions on the Internet, especially when those opinions touch on a male-dominated industry like this one.

I think she has every right to disable YouTube comments, considering what a cesspit they are normally. Even a supposedly professional site like this apparently can't escape indignant dudes moaning about a woman daring to shine a light on their hobby.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 8th March 2013 11:23pm

Posted:A year ago

#9

Matt Ernst
Studying Culinary Arts

24 20 0.8
HAHAHAHAHA Oh wow. I can't keep a straight face reading that. It's like you ignore any criticism and keep to what you believe is right, when there is so much disproving it. It's as if you're offended for the sake of being offended.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Matt Ernst on 8th March 2013 11:45pm

Posted:A year ago

#10

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
when there is so much disproving it
Disproving what, the torrent of abuse she got? The fact that women get horrible abuse every day on the Internet because of their gender? I would love to see your proof that either of these things are false. Go on, disprove me.
It's as if you're offended for the sake of being offended.
Believe me, I am quite tired of being insulted, sickened and upset by the stuff I read online every single day. I don't go looking for it, but I'm not afraid to call it out when I see it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 8th March 2013 11:58pm

Posted:A year ago

#11

Matt Ernst
Studying Culinary Arts

24 20 0.8
#12

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
None of the comments above refute anything I said regards the abuse Sarkeesian recieved for her project nor the reality of being a woman on the Internet, and if you're relying on random YouTube videos to make your point for you - well, I'm not sitting through 25 minutes of badly-edited video to find where they support whatever point it is you're trying to make.

Seriously, if Sarkeesian's work upsets you this much then I suggest you don't watch her videos. Rageposting about what other people spend their money on and enjoy is a bit weird, dude.

Posted:A year ago

#13

Matt Ernst
Studying Culinary Arts

24 20 0.8
You are so thick-headed it's hilarious. But hey, it was my privilege talking to a wall.

Posted:A year ago

#14

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
Nice refutation! Thanks for engaging me in an intelligent and polite discussion.

(I am rolling my eyes so hard right now)

Posted:A year ago

#15

Ken McFarlane
Artist

9 33 3.7
This first video falls into the same routine as every other Sarkeesian video. Even when she's just talking about the type of game or the features of it she sounds disgusted, like living in the same worlds as Mario Bros keeps her up at night.

I feel sorry for her as she's clearly very sad inside to the point where in her perspective, any female character that needs help or rescuing is being objectified. I never saw Zelda or Princess Toadstool as objects (its hard for me to do so), I saw them as people who needed my (the protagonist of the game) help. Plus how fun would it be if the game was suddenly cut short because the person you were trying to help managed to save themselves off screen?

Also what if you play a female character and your sister/mother/brother/father/lover was kidnapped? I'm sure Sarkeesion would label that the "Female with a penis" trope.

Finally, Anyone who thinks that a video game character needs fleshing out beyond that for the sake of story should just stop and think if they treat people in real life the way they see characters treated on the screen. If no, well done you're a well rounded person who can separate entertainment from reality which means the video game is not a problem in your life. If yes, i feel sorry for you.

Posted:A year ago

#16

Tomas Roller
Senior Development Manager

8 19 2.4
I loved the chance to care about Yorda in Ico or Meche in Grim Fandango! If done well, the damsel in distress scenario stops being about incapabilities of female NPCs and unfolds a tale of love, heroism and proweness. The result obviously depends on writers' ability of characterization. The problem is not related to female characters only, males suffer from the very same flatness and tropes: butch / brutish / bipolar / manchildish...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tomas Roller on 9th March 2013 7:05am

Posted:A year ago

#17

Jason Alexander
QA - Senior Tester

20 15 0.8
She calls it Trope I call it a Genre. Her argument is shot down by the mention of: Samus, Tifa Lockheart, Lara Croft(despite the New one), Bayonetta, Etna(Desgeia), Aya Brea (Parasite Eve). That was just from looking around my room. There are plenty of strong female leads in games. Picking apart the games where thery're not strong and asking why not is a bit "pedantic"

I wish her good luck on the series though. I look forward to seeing the next one.

Posted:A year ago

#18

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,508 1,282 0.9
The Damsel trope is a lazy way of creating a sympathetic bond between protagonist/player character and hapless victim. There's a reason why the Damsel in Distress railway scene is one of the most famous silent-movie clips - it's because, in the space of a few seconds, an emotional bond is created that makes the viewer invested in the outcome. Reverse the genders - or make both characters the same gender - and the emotional impact is lost. In the same way, there's also a reason why a lot of TV shows and movies involve kidnapped children or the death of a relative - it's lazy writing that creates an almost instant emotional link.

Over and above that rant...

I do feel that Anita is preaching to the converted with all this. Indie Game: The Movie got a little under 100k from Kickstarter (covering 40% of the budget, apparently), and they created a documentary, entered the movie into competitions, and got the movie onto Steam. I'm not talking Bowling for Columbine extravagance, but certainly I think she could have reached a broader audience - and affected more views, which is meant to be the end result - with something that wasn't just her talking to camera and posting the result to Youtube. She mentions Shigeru Miyamoto repeatedly, for instance, but how much better would it have been if she had managed to interview the man himself to ask about the design choices of his games? What about interviewing Rhianna Pratchett, regarding the new TR? What about interviewing folklorists regarding the damsel trope in other cultures and artforms? (Not every reading of the Damsel scenario disempowers women).

I also think she did herself no favours by disabling comments. Yes, comments directed at her were shocking and disgraceful, but now this has appeared

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THjrjmpLJWs&feature=player_embedded

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 9th March 2013 5:11pm

Posted:A year ago

#19

Calvin Fordham
Graphic Design

8 5 0.6
Surprisingly I enjoyed the first half despite some of my disagreements with her view.

I think the thing that turns me off of her point is her feminist agenda into pushing any image of a female characters as a form of male egocentric oppression while overanalyzing something simple that's made just to create the game and victimizing the female character to do so.. Not to It's not something that's exclusive to her, but something a I feel a lot feminists are guilty of, while trying to change the natural rules under the guise of change against male oppression/tyranny, but in the end, this quest for equality and diversity becomes a push for female oppression and control while causing social confusion. This is because of the two different genders have their natural roles.

i.e.
Today = Men are Chauvinistic Pigs
Tomorrow = Chilvary is dead.


I don't think there would be a perfect female lead, because that is subjective, same for male leads. I personally enjoyed Bayonetta's character, because despite popular opinion, she felt like a woman who was always in control and unapologetic for who she is. She's sexy, confident, and strong, for some that's not a realistic view of a woman, but for me (as a male along with other things.) She's perfect. She does as she pleases, and that's what I love. I've met people who felt that Kat from DmC was a strong female character but I really disliked her because she felt like a weak victimized abuse victim, especially in the ending when Dante and Vergil faces off while she cowers behind a trashcan.It almost pushed me to say, "What are you doing here?"



But back to the Damsel in Distress argument. I really liked when she told the backstory to Dinosaur Planet (although most likely it was done just to sell the game as a part of the StarFox Franchise.) She really does a good job at contrasting the two directions and the end result. It actually did sting to see those scenes I enjoyed with Fox McCloud as a kid were ripped from Krystal. (Although I am happy to still have her as a part of the StarFox cast, which otherwise she may have never been known.)

I appreciate that she recognizes that there are more to Zelda's role than Damsel in distress, but she gives into the common misconception that The Legend of Zelda is about saving Princess Zelda, when it is about saving the Kingdom of Hyrule. Zelda represents Wisdom, while not playable, she plays her role, as well as Link and Gannon, the fate of the world is the reward and not her. You could have her play as the main protagonist, but it wouldn't be the same experience as Link, since they have different roles in the game, same could be said if Gannondorf were the protagonist.

As for Princess Peach, that's more or less her purpose, to be saved as the goal of the Mario games, it's a basic format that is used for the sake of making those games, while in other games (the RPGs Paper Mario/ Super Mario RPG, which I enjoy playing with her) She has more indepth roles.

Ultimately as we push to "Evolve" the medium as an "Art", a certain gripe that I have with most devs, and voices (especially Westerners) is that evolution consists of immersion through visuals and storytelling. I specifically disagree with this. Video Games should offer immersion through unique and compelling gameplay, and not cinematics and dialog. I hope eventually devs will realize this and stop pushing for standardization. I don't mind diverse roles, but to push for diverse roles, and a compelling story while the gameplay itself doesn't make me feel compelled to play it, is a big disservice to such dedication in other areas (look at Lost Planet 3, and I was a fan of the other two, espeically 2.) .

Sorry if I'm a bit everywhere in my statements. So many things to discuss when it comes to that subject. To simplify my point. I wouldn't mind seeing a diverse cast, but I think ultimately what will really decide my enjoyment of the game is not the story and roles, but just the pure fact it fun to play. Maybe I am just what is seen today as a "niche audience". I look forward to her next video.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Calvin Fordham on 9th March 2013 5:51pm

Posted:A year ago

#20

Calvin Fordham
Graphic Design

8 5 0.6
@Ken
This is exactly how I feel. Well stated.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Calvin Fordham on 10th March 2013 12:21am

Posted:A year ago

#21

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,147 925 0.8
After the negative comments by some I was a little worried, but being one to form my own opinions I was actually quite impressed.

I can also forgive that this is nothing like $150,000 worth of footage. After all, its just part of the series and the required funding for what she wished to achieve was far and beyond lower and more modest ($6,000). It will be interesting to see where this can be taken and the 'legs' the funding can give it.

A lot of good points have been raised in this analysis. Gotta say, I've always been shocked at what Nintendo did with Crystal in StarFox Adventures, its also interesting to see the use of "Damsels in Distress" across games over the decades shown in all in one place as I didn't put it in this perspective despite knowing it was present. I liked the analysis on Damsels in games being prevented from being 'architects of their own escape'. The Double Dragon part was also quite shocking and something I hadn't seen before.

Of course, there is another side to all stories and analyses so I would like to see her explore that. I've also never played a game for to live out any particular male power fantasy, but I can see how the designers have worked to 'try' and extract that from teenage boys in some of these games - but its debatable to what extent that actually makes the games more appealing, outside the fact they may have really good game play.

I would also like to see more mention and analysis on female characters in popular games who are the exact opposite of the damsel in distress.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 9th March 2013 6:01pm

Posted:A year ago

#22

Paul Smith
Dev

189 148 0.8
Whats the deal with the double dragon part anyway? She seems to make a big deal out of it, all it is a woman get punched in the stomach. I agree the pantie shot is a bit much though.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 9th March 2013 6:50pm

Posted:A year ago

#23

Calvin Fordham
Graphic Design

8 5 0.6
@Paul - lol.... I have to admit, when I saw her get punched. It kinda enticed me to look into DDN, and I was never a fan of DD. (although I do enjoy beatem ups.)

Not that I condone any actual violence against women, that ain't cool, but in a video game... I found it borderline hilarious.

Posted:A year ago

#24

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,147 925 0.8
@Paul

Well, I guess it pulls the wrong string for some of us, especially seeing it being re-created again and again across generations. The story is pretty typical of the topic here then to add to it there's that scene, showing the violence and the exposure.

Might not be a big deal, might be. The context with the discussion/video etc does make it feel more unacceptable to me but then that means the episode was successful in making me think whether I thought it was acceptable or not.

Posted:A year ago

#25

Paul Smith
Dev

189 148 0.8
I don't see how its unacceptable its a game after all its not the developers point of view on how women should be treated, and of course it should be rated accordingly. I find that Anita always seems to take things out of context in her videos, The whole purpose of princess peach is to be kidnapped so the Mario games actually have some sort of plot, its simple and effective. She just looks for sexism in games and of course she finds it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 9th March 2013 9:07pm

Posted:A year ago

#26

Ken McFarlane
Artist

9 33 3.7
@Adam Campbell Double Dragon is shocking to you?

Have you heard of Grand Theft Auto? In this series of games you can walk right up to women, some who are sex workers, prostitutes, dressed up in lingerie in the middle of the day and shoot them in the face or even prolong their torture by shooting limbs and then ultimately putting a bullet in the back of their sorry polygonal data filled heads, after which you can evade police capture for that crime getting away scott free. What's your opinion on that?

Or Heavy Rain, where in you are in control of one of the main characters, a woman, as you strip down to your under wear to perform a lap dance to a male character who knows the whereabouts of your son (or information of another sort). The male character exerts his dominance and power over you, the female, degrading your character further and you the viewer are forced to watch her textured 3D model dance making you the viewer a voyeur to this act. What's your opinion on that?

Now we could also argue semantics here on how after watching this Sarkeesian video you now see that game studios are trying to deliver a power fantasy to teenage boys. Now yes, there is such a thing as aiming for target demographics when designing a game but I highly doubt anyone in any design meeting has said, "Then we have Kratos play a sex mini-game so that all those horny Teenagers can see a boob and a virtual sex simulator!"

Or if I'm designing a character or prop, I've never though "gotta give this female character huge tits cause, hey teen boys..am I right?" I've always tried to design something that would be interesting and fun to look at but also adhears to the brief given to me, and as far as power fantasies go, all video games are power fantasies, be it the ability to suddenly be able to drive race cars with little knowledge, murder people in cold blood for next to nothing or jump stupidly high in a world so colourful even the hills, flowers and mushrooms have little beady eyes. If games weren't power fantasies of any sort they would be fucking boring to play as there would be little to no elements of escapism in them.

I apologise for the long reply but your 'shock' at some pixel underwear is baffling.

If I have miss understood you though please correct me, I'm not trying to antagonise.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ken McFarlane on 9th March 2013 9:15pm

Posted:A year ago

#27

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,147 925 0.8
Yeah I'd say you misunderstood me. I'm not an easy person to shock and I didn't mean shock in that sense.

I tried to explain that within the context of the discussion and the video it does seem really 'out there' as an example of women being constantly exploited in the role Anita was talking about, and something that was being exploited again and again in this specific title across generations, made all the more after the build up in the rest of the 'documentary' shall we call it.

As I said, she's been very successful in making people view this program and pull strings with it and raise questions about the very architecture of the video game industry's approach to gender. In a very different way to the type of emotions or thoughts you may have watching or playing GTA. Its just not the same as what I was trying to express and the reasons why people though "ooh that's really not too cool" when seeing the scenes in the documentary.

Posted:A year ago

#28

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,147 925 0.8
I don't see how its unacceptable its a game after all its not the developers point of view on how women should be treated, and of course it should be rated accordingly.
I didn't say it was unacceptable, but that it makes it seem 'more unacceptable'.
I find that Anita always seems to take things out of context in her videos, The whole purpose of princess peach is to be kidnapped so the Mario games actually have some sort of plot, its simple and effective. She just looks for sexism in games and of course she finds it.
This is where it gets interesting.

In isolation, of course there is absolutely nothing up with Mario's story and Princess Peach being saved. But when she looks into the wider context of the damsel in distress being used almost as the default story and how it has become a norm that 'the weak woman is saved by the male protagonist' , and how the said company seemingly repeated this throughout their biggest titles, going as far as to remove a woman from the lead role to make her a helpless object of desire, then we have another discussion.

Of course, whether or not that is what we call 'sexism' is debatable. But it throws up a lot of questions about what we thing is 'acceptable' or 'unacceptable' or 'normal' and why.

We shouldn't forget that this is ultimately an exploration into the subject, regardless of any deep opinions the host or any of the resulting viewers actually hold. By the end of it I'm sure many more of these discussions will have happened. You'll have people with the same views they've always had and some people changing their views, after all its what tends to happen when a different perspective is offered for our brains to process.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 9th March 2013 10:13pm

Posted:A year ago

#29

Ken McFarlane
Artist

9 33 3.7
Cool, sorry I misunderstood.

So, just so I have this clear, You're shocked that she used this as an example to the extent shown in the video? Or shocked that Double Dragon uses the girlfriend getting kidnapped as the reason for the quest?

My point with the GTA and Heavy Rain examples where to show that there are actual examples of mistreatment/disrespect towards women both in a game area (GTA, optional through players actions) and as part of a key part of the narrative (Heavy Rain). These are of course mature rated games which should be played by people who know that what they're playing isn't indicative of reality and that they shouldn't act as they have in the game.

When watching Sarkeesion's Video the whole vibe was pretty much "look at how horrible all this is"/"This isn't how it should be" without really talking about how it could be better, maybe that comes in part 2 of this but I'm not holding my breath and the only question her video raises in me is what has happened to this women to fill her with so much contempt towards pop culture and women in it.

As I said earlier if the role was swapped and Mario was Marion and had to go rescue Prince Peach, Sarkeesion would most likely call this "female with a penis" trope as the damsel in distress genre/motivation so far has been primarily men saving women (cause god forbid we would want to save someone from imprisonment) and call it unoriginal. Sarkeesion, in my opinion, sets out to point out how wrong everything else is without really suggesting alternatives which almost anyone could do.

Good back and forth we have here.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ken McFarlane on 9th March 2013 10:31pm

Posted:A year ago

#30

Paul Smith
Dev

189 148 0.8
become a norm that 'the weak woman is saved by the male protagonist' , and how the said company seemingly repeated this throughout their biggest titles, going as far as to remove a woman from the lead role to make her a helpless object of desire, then we have another discussion.
But that isn't happening, she took two examples of Nintendo games out of context, The reason the damsel-in-distress happens in a lot of titles is because like I said its a simple and easy way to start an adventure story clearly people don't care that much as Mario games still sell millions. The whole dinosaur planet thing was ca business move "this game is cool but I think it would sell better if we use an already established IP and character" is most likely what happened where as Anita makes it out to be Nintendo hating on womankind.

Posted:A year ago

#31

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,147 925 0.8
And maybe you're right but again I don't think some people have previously thought of this in an alternative way.

There are two ways (or more) of looking at everything. Maybe there is more to it, maybe there isn't. Its actually quite difficult for anyone to have the right answer there.

Posted:A year ago

#32

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,147 925 0.8
So, just so I have this clear, You're shocked that she used this as an example to the extent shown in the video?
I'd say option A.

Posted:A year ago

#33

Ken McFarlane
Artist

9 33 3.7
There are two ways (or more) of looking at everything. Maybe there is more to it, maybe there isn't. Its actually quite difficult for anyone to have the right answer there.
It's impossible to have a right answer as this is all observation and opinions. I think Sarkeesion's are massively one sided/warped as opinions are stated without thinking of alternatives.

You can nit pick at anything really but I think the fact that the majority of people don't mind peach getting captured shows it's really a non-issue.

This method of analysis can be applied to The Hobbits in The Two Towers, they were damsels in distress and they were saved by men, if we really wanted to we could talk about homosexual undertones of the author because of this plot as it's big strong men rescuing weak and defenseless ones. This re-enforces the 'camp' lifestyle of the hobbits making them outright gay through observation, which then re-enforces homosexual stereotypes of being weaker, lesser beings that need the strong heterosexual men to save them. You can even say that the elf and dwarf in the lord of the rings are super hitting on each other when they're counting how many orcs they've killed to impress each other.

You can read what you want into anything and form your opinion based of that, Sarkeesion's just seems to always end up negative and she's going to back herself in a corner where no female character is going to be a good role model.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ken McFarlane on 10th March 2013 1:23pm

Posted:A year ago

#34
The lack of self awareness in the game industry strikes again in this comments section. I guess it shouldn't be surprising that most of the comments are ad homenim or about the amount of money she made on kickstarter. Clearly none of you know how to take a hint. I used to think the problem with sexism in games stemmed from 12 year old boys on Xbox Live too young to know any better. The reaction to this video proves to me that the problem is adult men with the minds of 12 year old boys inside the industry.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Bill Garrison on 11th March 2013 4:11am

Posted:A year ago

#35

Calvin Fordham
Graphic Design

8 5 0.6
@Bill, Why do you feel that way?

Posted:A year ago

#36

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,508 1,282 0.9
@ Bill
I guess it shouldnt be surprising that most of the comments are ad homenim attacks about the amount of money she made on kickstarter.
I don't mean to antagonise, but there's a difference between "Ad Hominem attacks" and "the amount of money she made on Kickstarter". The former is a personal attack, obviously stupid, and does no favours to anyone (least of all the human race). The latter is a valid point, raising the question of whether she could've spurred a greater discussion if she had done something different. Especially when you take into account that she's doing the same talking-head set-up as she did before she got 150k in donations, and some full-fledged documentaries have been made for less.

Also, your use of the word "most" isn't particularly correct, either. :/

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 10th March 2013 9:20am

Posted:A year ago

#37

Angus Syme
Senior Artist

22 21 1.0
Heheh - @Bill Garrison pretty much.

I think the video seems to get folks backs up because the industry is predominantly a male run industry aimed at male gamers. In that environment you're not being sexist - you're just being 'normal' as the prevalent viewpoint defines it. Possibly why this all got such a hefty reaction is simply because it effectively is going 'actually your normality? It's not exactly right' which people hate.

Posted:A year ago

#38

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
Exactly, Angus. People get defensive when their privilege and problematic attitudes get called out - especially when it's a member of the marginalised group doing the calling out.

Damsel in distress is in itself just a lazy way of coming up with a motivation for a male protagonist. The enduring popularity of the trope points to greater problems than laziness though.

Posted:A year ago

#39

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,508 1,282 0.9
@ Jessica

Mmmm... Generalising doesn't help.

"Some people get defensive when their privilege and problematic attitudes get called out - especially when it's a member of the marginalised group doing the calling out."

And I do agree that the initial reaction for a lot of people is defensiveness, especially when it's a somewhat niche industry (another example would be sexism in comics). It's just not the go-to reaction for everyone involved (like, I would hope, myself, and Adam, to name but two people here). :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 10th March 2013 11:48am

Posted:A year ago

#40

Ken McFarlane
Artist

9 33 3.7
Damsel in distress is in itself just a lazy way of coming up with a motivation for a male protagonist. The enduring popularity of the trope points to greater problems than laziness though.
Hey Jess, I've already touched upon this but your comment here made me want to reiterate;

Quoting myself now, pretty egotistical right? Heh, I know.
what if you play a female character and your sister/mother/brother/father/lover was kidnapped?
If the above was an example of a game it would still fall into the 'Damsel in Distress' trope, dispite the protagonist being female. Would this make this type of scenario better for you as the progatonist is no longer male?

The main problem at the moment is everyone is getting hung up on gender and undertones that are only there if you are looking for them (like my Hobbit analogy earlier). Also let's not start bringing in 'Privilege' into this as it has nothing to do with video games.

There are more women getting into/in the video game industry today than there has been and with this will come other perspectives on how games should be presented, which is a good thing. Change is already happening but, the main problem is everyone is getting too hung up on past games that have been released instead of the games that will be coming out. Change is happening you can clearly see it unfortunately, it's not going to happen over night.

Posted:A year ago

#41

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
According to MCVs yearly surveys, the percentage of women in the UK games industry has halved in recent years.

Maybe that has something to do with the dismissive reactions we get when we bring up concerns like this. If you think privilege doesn't factor into the equation at all, I think you're missing something important.

Posted:A year ago

#42

Anthony Gowland
Lead Designer

172 525 3.1
I'm kind of staggered that people would come to what is ostensibly an industry-focussed site, frequented mostly by people in the business, and speak to each other in the way you see in this thread.

Is that really how you want to come across to your peer group (and potentially the next person who will be in a position to offer you work)?

Crazy.

Posted:A year ago

#43

Angus Syme
Senior Artist

22 21 1.0
Again - agreeing (this time with Jessica).

This reminds me of a great interview from Dwayne McDuffy talking about being a black creator in comic books and the push back he got against working. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u16sKK-1oLQ from 2:11 onwards.

Posted:A year ago

#44

Ken McFarlane
Artist

9 33 3.7
@Jessica,
Alright I'll take you on that, I'm not read MCV in a while so perhaps that is the case, which is unfortunate and I'm sorry that you feel like people are being dismissive of you.

Can you elabourate on how 'Privilege' factors into it rather than just saying that it does?

Finally, what about the other points in my previous reply, could you address those? I would very much like to hear your opinions on them.

I think we have a good steady discussion going on here

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Ken McFarlane on 10th March 2013 1:39pm

Posted:A year ago

#45

Paul Smith
Dev

189 148 0.8
According to MCVs yearly surveys, the percentage of women in the UK games industry has halved in recent years.

Maybe that has something to do with the dismissive reactions we get when we bring up concerns like this.
But maybe it isn't? The number could of gone down for a whole number of reasons maybe the amount of men working in the industry went down as well? Maybe they left the country or maybe the got better offers in different industries such as animation, films etc.

Posted:A year ago

#46

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
I should really be working right now and I feel like I've spent the past three days talking/arguing/getting shouted at about this, but since it's a polite request! :3
"what if you play a female character and your sister/mother/brother/father/lover was kidnapped?"
If the above was an example of a game it would still fall into the 'Damsel in Distress' trope, dispite the protagonist being female.
Simply by virtue of the protagonist being female and the kidnapped character not necessarily being female this no longer falls into the strict deinition of the 'Damsel in Distress' trope. I'd be okay with it, caveat being that the kidnapped character isn't pointlessly sexualised like many damsels often are. I'd also like to see the kidnapped character not being totally helpless, but many people apparently find that kind of vulnerability compelling so whatever, that's just my personal preference.

The thing some people tend to miss about objections to female tropes is that when something happens once or twice it's not a trope, but when it's as widespread as Damsel in Distress, or the way female characters are so often portrayed with exactly the same pneumatic supermodel-esque appearance, then it's problematic. When you get to the point that 'oh, she got kidnapped, guess I need to save her like in all these other games' is just eye-rollingly tired writing, you have to wonder why designers keep hopping to that particular brand of motivation and why players keep responding to it.

As to why privilege comes into this - first, I hope that we're all on the same page regards what privilege is, so just in case I'll quote the excellent feminism101 primer on male privilege:
Privilege is: About how society accommodates you. It’s about advantages you have that you think are normal. It’s about you being normal, and others being the deviation from normal. It’s about fate dealing from the bottom of the deck on your behalf.
In the case where we're discussing how tropes in games can harm women, men have the privilege to be able to brush off any criticism or concerns as 'not about me, not really a problem', which I see happen a LOT. When something hurtful doesn't target your gender/race/sexuality, it's easier to ignore or dismiss it. When that hurtful thing is so often portrayed as something that benefits your gender somehow - and I'm not saying that every guy likes being the big strong hero who rescues the helpless maiden, or ogling the skimpily-clad women presented to them in games, but those are specifically presented for the enjoyment of heterosexual men - it's easy to get defensive about it and ignore how and why it can be hurtful to someone else.

Posted:A year ago

#47

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
@Paul

I didn't say that's the one reason why the numbers went down, but whatever caused it, it's something that seems to have affected women far more than men - notice that I said the percentage of women has halved(from 12% to 6% in recent years, if only I could find anything useful on MCV's site), meaning that for some reason the number of women working in games has dropped fairly sharply in comparison to the number of men. Why that is, I don't know, but my own experience and circle of friends suggests that #1reasonwhy might have been... at least one reason. Hence the name.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 10th March 2013 1:59pm

Posted:A year ago

#48

Andreia Quinta
Creative & People Photographer

214 519 2.4
Ken McFarlane's comment nailed it dead center. Her ideologies are something to take seriously in the entertainment industry overall, but she expresses it incorrectly, looking for things that aren't there to begin with.

Posted:A year ago

#49

Ken McFarlane
Artist

9 33 3.7
@ Jessica

I gotta say you worded your reply well allowing me to see your perspective clearly, there are some points that I would like to present counter arguments but that may be too indpeth to talk about in a thread on a website.

I shall leave it at this though, whilst I don't fully agree with some of the issues, I agree with others and want to see it improve but more importantly I would much prefer to see you presenting this video series as you use your words much better than Sarkeesion.

Perhaps one day we'll be working on the same project together and if these issues are still around we can talk more about them then and maybe try to improve them.

Posted:A year ago

#50

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
If I was in Sarkeesian's place, doing what she does and getting the shit she does for it(and I have little doubt that no matter how carefully she worded her videos she would still get a complete shitstorm over it), I would probably have offed myself by now. Not even joking. I have personally experienced a comparatively tiny amount of what she has and I still have nightmares about it.

There is no amount of money in the world that would put me up in her place, and I think she does a decent job of getting across her ideas. I have no idea how she not only weathered that torrent of hellish abuse but kept on trucking and used the experience as a talking point at TEDx.

Posted:A year ago

#51

Angus Syme
Senior Artist

22 21 1.0
I suppose because its like a hyper-version of the internet. As loathsome as the abuse was (and it was appalling) it was countered by lovely, supportive people cheering her on. As mentioned she wanted 6k and got 150k and a full time occupation out of it because so many people were horrified by what was happening.

Which is brilliant but also reminds me why I generally avoid forums or live game chat.

Posted:A year ago

#52

Calvin Fordham
Graphic Design

8 5 0.6
Man this thread feels so off track. Much like many others where this is being discussed. On one side we have one group who feels as we should sympathize with Sarkeesian's negative experience and praise her from that and the idea of women being ill-represented in the industry itself, while on the other side feels that there are already some decent characterizations of female characters and there could be, but do not agree with the way Sarkeesian expresses her viewpoint on it especially in this video. (Myself included.)

So now it boils down to the clash of Pretentious White Knights and Childish Manbabies (not really the situation but perhaps the offensive tone that some might take with each other that do not agree.)

It really begs for people to clarify what they do agree with, (Female characters could be represented better - which is actually more subjective than many think the same even goes for male characters) and what they disagree with, ( Sarkeesian's projection of simple themes in gaming used as a basic plot as a form of male egocentric oppression- which in the end does her video a disservice IMO.)

I really think discussions like this beg for a middle ground that can clarify where we stand. Because I'm sure in most cases we may agree with the message, but not the messenger.

I really wish people would discuss the content of the video, Anita's argument, points, analysis, and how she expresses her point of view. (Without ad-hominem and considering her past history, as well what she went through to do so, because sympathy does not excuse quality.)

I've seen more people discuss her experiences creating the video more than the video itself, and I think that causes us to miss the point of where we may clash.

Posted:A year ago

#53
Well too much talk related with this series, if people who pledged her happy with her "creative" videos there should be no problem. Since most of the people i can see aganist her "publicty" i dont understand why they keep talking about her making it more populer :) Personally i don't think she is doing this for women, it was nice project for her future career but while disapproving her fast steps i don't want to offend her supporters like Jessica. They are acting with good will at least i believe in them and try to understand them instead of Anita.

Posted:A year ago

#54

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,508 1,282 0.9
The problem with discussing the content of the video is that it's a very... difficult thing to do on the internet, where things can be misinterpreted, but let's try it. :)

I agree that the Damsel trope is bad, but to me it's less a signature of the Male Patriarchy, and more to do with a combination of bad writing, bad timing and the immaturity of the industry. The whole Dinosaur Planet thing, for instance, is just a bad combination of business concepts - the N64 was dying. A flagship IP game was needed for the Gamecube. A game had been made by Rare that suited the Starfox characters, but that meant shoe-horning Starfox and co in, rather than leaving a female character in. Poor story-telling meant that it was just a simple Damsel in Distress story. That's bad, sure, no denying it, but when that Starfox game was released, the games industry was barely 20 years old. Look at Hollywood films in the early '30s - they're not great paragons of story-telling, and film has the advantage of being a visual story-telling medium like theatre and opera, rather than an interactive medium that's reliant on technology.

A second issue I have with her video is that the majority of examples are old. She tries to spin HD encodes of old games with the Damsel trope as a love of that story-telling conceit. But, honestly, there's HD encodes of most things now - it's simply a business decision to cash-in on nostalgia with the least monetary cost. Does JSR HD mean that people suddenly love cheesy graffiti again? Or is it just some easy cash on the part of Sega? Do people who play Damsel-trope games like the story? Or do they just play to play a good game? The Mario games are a case in point: Who played Mario 64 for the story? Come on, hands up. :) They didn't. They played it because it was an excellent game, that had a god-awful story inside it. That doesn't mean they agreed about the subtext, or are willingly letting the Damsel trope live, or don't care about one-dimensional female characters in games.

Thirdly, her video was, as pointed out in the comments above, Japanese-centred. Western examples of the Damsel trope abound, I'm sure, but culturally, the Japanese love of something like pantie-shots (like Chun-Li's in SF2) is not something that's particualrly shared by Western developers. And, honestly, do Japanese developers even care for that nowadays?

I'll end this by saying I have no doubt that this industry aims games at boys/men. It has for years. And that the Damsel trope is a bad thing. But a proper examination of the Damsel trope required, I think, more examination into writing techniques and cultural values and perceptions of women than this video provided.

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 10th March 2013 7:10pm

Posted:A year ago

#55

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

633 239 0.4
As loathsome as the abuse was (and it was appalling) it was countered by lovely, supportive people cheering her on.
As pointed out by one of the "badly edited videos" no small amount of that (abuse) triggered by the way she censored comments. Yeah. some moderation is required, but she choose not to allow comments from people contradicted or questioned her agenda.
In that badly edited video, that Jessica could not be bothered to watch, a girl says "she (Anita) does not speak for me".

Something from Penny Arcade.

@Morville
, I think, more examination into writing techniques and cultural values and perceptions of women than this video provided.
Good luck for that, the "connection to loved ones" is one of the most commonly used tool by writers.

Posted:A year ago

#56

Angus Syme
Senior Artist

22 21 1.0
Generally I thought it was a good vid. I liked the discussion of tropes, her examples were interesting and while I agree they focused on a lot of 80's and 90s stuff the core franchises of Zelda and Mario are still relevant and played today.

On a general level - the fact that this thread (on a reasonably intelligent website largely frequented by professionals) has had this much reaction (some of it negative) flags that something is... wrong or sensitive with issues of how women are portrayed in games. I'll go out on a limb here and say that generally my experience working in several games companies was that they were very much 'boys clubs'. If what she was saying was utterly irrelevant or misguided I'd find it hard to imagine the level of vitriol tied so closely to, well, her gender. When Jack Thompson made an ass of himself by representing games as 'evilz' you didn't get a campaign of people offering to sexually molest him. The fact that this happened here does sort of flag that the games culture she's commentating has a level of sexism to it. If I said the mildest version of what she got in a normal office? I'd expect to be fired. Instantly. :)

Posted:A year ago

#57

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

633 239 0.4
Sarkeesian seems to dismiss Dishonored as misogynistic simply because it doesn’t contain the stereotype of the “strong modern female” in a game that is about how everyone is at the mercy of arbitrary fate in the form of rampaging plague rats.
Source : a feminist gamer.

Posted:A year ago

#58

Angus Syme
Senior Artist

22 21 1.0
And your point being? Trundling out one 'feminist gamer' who disagrees or dislikes her doesn't make some of her arguments worthwhile. It just means another woman disagrees with her.

Posted:A year ago

#59

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,508 1,282 0.9
@ Tom

I think the more interesting quote from that article is this:
But if Sarkeesian is going to dismiss a complex and intelligent game like Dishonored out of hand, then I have my doubts about her overall ability to be that voice, at least to the degree that we as an internet gaming community seem to have accepted.

Posted:A year ago

#60

Jessica Hyland
Character Artist

237 794 3.4
Anita Sarkeesian doesn't 'speak for' anyone but herself. She is not supposed to be some kind of perfect infallible feminist gamer mouthpiece, she is just a critic making her own analyses of games and the tropes they employ. I think people are expecting a bit too much of one woman and her video editing team - they're making a series of informative and interesting videos about a topic that concerns a lot of people(as evidenced by the unexpectedly massive funding they ended up receiving), not passing some kind of Eternal Feminist Judgement upon the games industry.

It really drives me crazy that there's more bickering over Sarkeesian herself and whatever positive or negative traits people are ascribing to her than actually discussing(rather than dismissing) the topic she's trying to raise.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 10th March 2013 10:03pm

Posted:A year ago

#61

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,508 1,282 0.9
@ Jessica

True enough. I think the massive troll abuse, plus lack of any other equally famous feminist critic, has set Anita up to be "spokesperson" for the subject, though, whether she wants to be or not.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 10th March 2013 10:12pm

Posted:A year ago

#62

Paul Smith
Dev

189 148 0.8
Doesn't help that her face is on 90% of the video taking up 50% of the screen.

my bad its about 60%

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 10th March 2013 11:09pm

Posted:A year ago

#63

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,147 925 0.8
It really drives me crazy that there's more bickering over Sarkeesian herself and whatever positive or negative traits people are ascribing to her than actually discussing(rather than dismissing) the topic she's trying to raise.
Completely agree, I do think people are focusing too much on her and not so much an important topic and issue. To an extent that she's being used in cases to dismiss the points being raised.

A lot of these points and analyses could really have been raised by anyone and still very much stand regardless or whether or not this particular woman speaking about them is liked... Its worth a discussion.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 10th March 2013 11:51pm

Posted:A year ago

#64

Jason Alexander
QA - Senior Tester

20 15 0.8
Well it seems this thread is getting nowhere...I watched all the clips and stuff and read up on her. It's pretty much the same old boring stuff that's been going around. I was not to please on her analyst of "Bayonetta" she did not say anything about the game. Instead went on about what she was wearing. A game staring a women...who's friend is women trying to help her remember her past of being apart of and all women "witch" society. I mean come on!!!
As for the Trope it's not going change...and not changing it is not really going to matter at this point. What has changed because it...I like to "pie" chart on it please.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jason Alexander on 11th March 2013 8:05am

Posted:A year ago

#65

Kirill Kozyrev
2D/3D Artist

9 15 1.7
Let\s give 150k$ to an insecure fame chaser, who would spill "femenistic" banalities on youtube, pretending to tear off covers, but actually just moaning at simple plot devices, and not, for example, donate to the charity of some sort. Because it is important to bitch about "rights" on the internet. For me, according to popularity of Sarkeesian motion, woman have no rights, they're discriminated in game industry, and every man, who played Zelda, thinks low of women.

How about not bitch about, and become an actual professional? I never heard, that woman got fired, or didn't get a job in game industry, because she's a woman. I know that happened, when she was just a lazy ass worker. And I'm pretty sure that happens in every other field of work.

People just love to play victims, because it gives an advantages.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Kirill Kozyrev on 11th March 2013 10:33am

Posted:A year ago

#66

Kirill Kozyrev
2D/3D Artist

9 15 1.7
So basically, she just doesn't like the plots of the games. Why not to moan about movies, or books then? It would be pretty much the same, the difference is - someone already moaned about women portrait in those medias and moved on, and videogames are not touched yet.

Posted:A year ago

#67

Kirill Kozyrev
2D/3D Artist

9 15 1.7
And goddamit but women are genetically less stronger, than men. This is how we are designed - women are built on the DNA level to keep the fire and nurse the children, when men are hunting and protecting them. Because it is in nature. Yes, there are women, which stronger, and than some men, but it's just exceptions, and trying to force it as a rule, is just going against natural order of the things. I'm not saying it is bad, to have strong women, I'm saying stop acting, like it's not the thing, established by thousands of years.

Yes, roles are washed out with our so called modern civilization. But still, men are men, and women are women, stop saying that it's bad this way. Because now I'm feeling, that I'm supposed to feel bad about me being a man.

Posted:A year ago

#68

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,147 925 0.8
Kirill, I can't say I agree one bit that resourceful, intelligent or even strong women are exceptional - and this is going from my life experiences not some kind of modern ideology.

I also don't see it as a justification for them to be forced into submission by a society that should now know better about the capabilities of the individual, not simply 'the man' or 'the woman' and their so-called 'role', you know humans evolved and extended their life-cycles for education and achievement, not just continuing the re-production cycle and regulation of nature.

It doesn't mean you should feel bad or any less secure about being male.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 11th March 2013 11:27am

Posted:A year ago

#69

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

633 239 0.4
Kirill, I can't say I agree one bit that resourceful, intelligent or even strong women are exceptional - and this is going from my life experiences not some kind of modern ideology.
Resourceful, intelligent and strong persons are rare, regardless the gender. Those are exceptional qualities in the society.

Posted:A year ago

#70

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,147 925 0.8
Resourceful, intelligent and strong persons are rare, regardless the gender. Those are exceptional qualities in the society.
Though I don't want to go into too much of an off topic discussion about humanity, how are you defining rare? If only a few people had any one of those qualities or a combination, I don't think we would be anywhere near what we are or where we are today.

Its not to say we can all be wonderful at everything, afterall we are individual with different skills of different levels, but when it comes to gender and the idea that one must rarely possess these qualities over another, well, that's just ridiculous.

How many people in society can be labelled as 'intelligent', 'strong' or 'resourceful' is debatable and you probably won't find conclusive statistics, though most people possess some level of this such that they can survive and progress. Of course, more in the context of this discussion the earlier comment I called out does once again raise questions about how certain people are percieved in society and if there is an issue in how games reflect that society.

To me, even if its just a minority of people in the industry or consuming its output feel that women in games should be rarely strong, resourceful or intelligent because that's how they see women in society, well, I think its a problem.

Posted:A year ago

#71

Ben Mathis
Art Director & Co-Founder

8 44 5.5
Popular Comment
It is also a scientific fact that women have higher pain tolerances than men and can multi task better, and those are skillsets required in games, but writers do not use those as justifications to cast women over men in games with problem solving that focuses on those two aspects.

Let´s face it, games are fantasy. Average strength differences aside, no man on earth can wield magic, carry 12 guns and their respective ammo while jumping over chasms and running for miles at a time without tiring. We re-write reality in the hopes we can suspend disbelief in order to have an engaging game. The idea that people would turn their brain off because it was a woman wielding a sword the size of a telephone pole to cut a dragon in half instead of a man is just silly hand waving.

I also see far too many people miss the point of kickstarter. You cannot donate the money to charity, you *must* use it for the stated purpose. As far as "make a game or be quiet" it is very likely that she enjoys theory, criticism, and analogy. We have professional film critics, and we actually have professional game critics as well, they are employed mostly by magazine and website writers. When a game we have worked on gets a negative review, brushing it off because the critic is not out making better games robs us of a chance to do some introspection on their criticism. Anita did her master´s thesis on this topic, not game design or programming, which makes it a good guess she would prefer to do these videos than design a game.

That ignores the fact we have had good games in the past with strong female characters, and it has not turned the industry on it´s head. Hundreds of thousands, and possibly eventually millions of people have watched these videos, many of which are gamers and game developers. I have noticed quite a bit of discussion around gender recently on all popular videogame websites, and I think it would be amiss to dismiss her contribution to this trend. It is very likely that her efforts on this video series will have a much further reaching influence on gender portrayal in games than even a perfect 100 metascored game made with a strong female lead.

Posted:A year ago

#72

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

633 239 0.4
Though I don't want to go into too much of an off topic discussion about humanity, how are you defining rare?
My definition for rare is below 10%. High-tech industries tend to hire only smart people. Plenty of various researches have been done on the subject of measuring mental capabilities with different testing methods, but they came up with similar results. One widely know method is QT test (Psychometricians generally regard IQ tests as having high statistical reliability, as although the results vary slightly, they are consistent across time)

IQ Description % of Population
130+ Very superior 2.2%
120-129 Superior 6.7%
110-119 High average 16.1%
90-109 Average 50%

Source

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tom Keresztes on 11th March 2013 12:38pm

Posted:A year ago

#73

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,147 925 0.8
Ok, so are the 50% of people with 'average' intelligence not counting as being intelligent people?

In total, it seems to amount a lot of people with a level of intellgience that would be more than ideal for problem solving and knowing how to use the resources around them.

To me that's not rare at all, but its no surprise that the number of people with especially high intelligence based on tests and metrics would be less than 10%

Posted:A year ago

#74

Tom Keresztes
Programmer

633 239 0.4
Ok, so are the 50% of people with 'average' intelligence not counting as being intelligent people?
Engineers and lawyers are on average at 130+ , which is 2%. Those 50% are in professions like truck drivers.

Posted:A year ago

#75

Frederic Eichinger
Web Developer

33 27 0.8
Popular Comment
I am seriously disappointed by these comments.
I expected a lot of these defensive "Who the hell paid her 150k for that?!", "Yeh, screw that bitch, should've donated the money!", "How dare she disable the comments!" and "Well, it's biology!" comments from YouTube. Heck, from any near-anonymous discussion. But definitely not from here.

The money was given to her. There was no scheme. There was no con. People believed in her cause - fuelled even more by the massive abuse she received - and backed it. I honestly believe, if there hadn't been a ton of people complaining and attacking her, this wouldn't even have reached the funding goal. Instead, she got more than she probably ever expected.

As for disabling comments - that does not block any criticism. There is nothing wrong with posting a blog post about it, or discussing it on the news sites that feature it - including this one. But there is something wrong with using the comments section of the video to throw insults at her - which YouTube comments simply are known for, especially when it comes to controversies.

And I'm definitely not getting into the "It's biology" argument. For god's sake, video gaming is largely a fantasy genre, no matter how much you twist it.

Posted:A year ago

#76

Kirill Kozyrev
2D/3D Artist

9 15 1.7
Very doubtfull that these series will lead to such consequences. I see how girl made an average of 2-3 years salary of gamedesigner, just because she's claiming herself as feminist.

I've watched videos which endorsed her, and which stated she's a con artist. I've also watched some of her videos. And in my opinion she's still just a famechaser, who found a profitable trend. That is it! The things she says, the way she acts made me doubt sincerity of her intentions and her ability to deliver reasonable and objective view.

Geek culture is a boys club... Women are discriminated as workers in game industry.. Plot cliches... Oh my, oh my.

But I do hope, that all that Sarkeesean controversy will end soon, she'll get bored and will stop all that nonsense.

P.S. 100 on metacritic is not an absolute quality index.
P.P.S. There were great games, produced under female leadership, and some are right now in development.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Kirill Kozyrev on 11th March 2013 1:23pm

Posted:A year ago

#77

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,508 1,282 0.9
Geek culture is a boys club...
Well...

http://fatuglyorslutty.com/

The fact that this website is still going strong would kind of support the "Boys club" statement. Which is not to say women don't exist in geek culture (be it games, pen-and-paper rpg circles, comics, whatever). But there's certainly room for improvement in gender attitudes and equality.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 11th March 2013 1:24pm

Posted:A year ago

#78

Kirill Kozyrev
2D/3D Artist

9 15 1.7
Just a food for thought, something I've found really interesting.
http://www.avoiceformen.com/video/feminism-can-suck-a-hill-of/
http://www.avoiceformen.com/video/damselception/
Finally something without stink of hypocrisy.

Posted:A year ago

#79

Mark Ridgewell
Rendering Engineer

4 22 5.5
Popular Comment
The backlash against this mystifies me. Most people here are missing the point entirely, focusing on irrelevancies and minor quibbles, including resorting to ad hominem attacks and strawmen. In an attempt to get back to the actual point, I think this is a fair summary of Sarkeesian's video:
1. Many games feature a male protaganist rescuing a helpless female victim and 'winning' her as if she is some kind of trophy
2. This is common enough to be considered a 'trope', and a sexist one that is detrimental to women
3. This is not a good thing.

Do you disagree with any of these points? If not, you agree with the video. Anything else is an irrelevant distraction.

Posted:A year ago

#80

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,147 925 0.8
Nice one Mark.

Posted:A year ago

#81

Nic Wechter
Senior Designer

32 68 2.1
Popular Comment
I LOL at people bitching about what she has spent her $150k on, who cares? She's delivering what she promised, how could you possibly give a shit, especially if you didn't even make a pledge supporting the campaign. Given the known quality of your average YouTube comment then disabling them is obviously the way to go.

I think any intelligent person would have trouble arguing that this issue getting some attention is a bad thing. Without a doubt the portrayal of women in games is very one sided in general and indicative of the traditional games audience of young men. I don't like the idea of female gamers being upset when playing these male targeted games with their uneven portrayals of women, I want more women enjoying games not less.

That said I think the discussion needs to be deeper than "Women are not portrayed the same as men and this is wrong and needs to be changed". Women as a reward or being shown to be weak and helpless goes a lot deeper in western culture than just video games. It goes across all entertainment media and is a reflection of our culture as a whole.

The lack of a balanced perspective to my eye is the biggest problem, there is little acknowledgment of female gamers as a market in general, there need to be more games made that cater to their tastes, I don't have any easy answers to this problem.

I don't think male gamers should be made to feel bad for being entertained by games where you rescue helpless women or get to see a sexy female in a skimpy outfit, thats not the problem here.

There are many films etc that I've begun to watch that I found unpleasant or offensive and I just choose to stop watching them, there are plenty of alternatives for me to do that, I'm spoiled for choice. For female gamers though, their options in this regard are much more limited, and that in my opinion is what the games industry need to work at changing.

Posted:A year ago

#82

Angus Syme
Senior Artist

22 21 1.0
Great comments from mark and Nic

Posted:A year ago

#83

Dave Herod
Senior Programmer

517 734 1.4
My only criticism is that it was 23 minutes of waffle to make one single point. I totally agree with her point, but what a ridiculously long winded way of making it.

Posted:A year ago

#84

Kirill Kozyrev
2D/3D Artist

9 15 1.7
@ Nic
"For female gamers though, their options in this regard are much more limited, and that in my opinion is what the games industry need to work at changing."

Well, yeah, if a woman would like to play game with female protagonist, who has great personality,or without offensive content to her, as a woman, there's not that many options. But the games are made with a certain target audience in mind. What sells good to one, doesn't sell good to another. Is there way to change that? Doubtfull. Some consumers will still expect one kind of content, the other will expect the other kind of content, probably opposite to the first, and the third just won't give a fuck, if it's a offensive to somebody, or not.

So, I think, the problem is not a poor portrayal, or abuse of stereotypes in videogames*, but just simply lack of games, which could interest those, who despise, or get offended by "games for boys". If the ratio of games for women (and I'm not talking about Barbie-games, I'm talking about pretty much serious games with non-cliche plot devices and gameplay, that could interest a woman) were somewhat equal to the "sexists games", then such thing, as this, wouldn't happen at all. But so far, I see Anita just attacking games, men, and not providing any constructional ideas.

*And fplease, it's not only games, movies and books do pretty much the same shit. Aren't all those heroines in cheap novells are just expecting Prince Charming on a white Stud? Ok, maybe not all women's novells are that simple, but there are plenty of such. And they do sell well.

*edited out swearing

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Kirill Kozyrev on 12th March 2013 11:23am

Posted:A year ago

#85

Stephen Richards
Game Deisgner

68 28 0.4
1. Many games feature a male protaganist rescuing a helpless female victim and 'winning' her as if she is some kind of trophy
2. This is common enough to be considered a 'trope', and a sexist one that is detrimental to women
3. This is not a good thing.
I think you hit the nail on the head there Mark. It's not that any reasonable intelligent person would disagree with her point, but that she has a style of presentation which is faintly irritating for some reason.

And yes you could make a video like that for peanuts. This is how kickstarter works. You make a donation to a project you want to see completed and the person you give it to can do whatever they want with it. Kickstarter donators aren't employers or banks - they get the same reward no matter how many other people donate. I say hats-off to the fund-raising success and set aside a few thousand for a nice holiday.

Posted:A year ago

#86

Lukas Arvidsson
Artist

5 21 4.2
This is also worth reading, Cliffy B wrote an excellent piece about this topic here: http://dudehugespeaks.tumblr.com/post/45150472512/anonymous-internet-boy-taliban-tropes

Posted:A year ago

#87

Dan Pearson
European Editor

95 183 1.9
Keep it civil, please folks. Unnecessary swearing makes any opinion look uninformed and aggression towards other users will not be tolerated.

Posted:A year ago

#88

Darren Adams
Managing Director

228 391 1.7
Jeez is this still going, what is the bloody big deal?

Someone did a kick-starter, made a video about her opinions on females portrayal in games and released it, simple.

Whether she is right or wrong really shouldn't matter; we are all (supposedly) adults and should just be fine with someone else expressing their opinion. Why all the beef over something so trivial? It is just a video!!

Posted:A year ago

#89

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,147 925 0.8
Doesn't it just prove that people have really strong emotions and opinions on the topic Darren? Sure its dragging but if the number of comments on a gamesindustry.biz article is any indication of the magnitude of a subject in the industry.... Well :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Adam Campbell on 12th March 2013 2:16pm

Posted:A year ago

#90

Matt Ernst
Studying Culinary Arts

24 20 0.8
#91

Darren Adams
Managing Director

228 391 1.7
Ok, well that was not taken as intended..... It was a rhetorical question and (attempted) humorous observation on how posters (male and female) all went nuclear over it for 80+ posts. (I really thought I could pull it off without resorting to smileys)

To quote my late father "Everyone should have the right to be heard, but it does not mean everyone should be listened to"

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 12th March 2013 7:19pm

Posted:A year ago

#92

Adam Campbell
Associate Producer

1,147 925 0.8
Fair enough lol

Posted:A year ago

#93

Shane Sweeney
Academic

353 254 0.7
I'm just perplexed how anyone can disagree with her? I'm not surprised by the uneducated masses raging online, but the industry reaction in this thread alone is just disappointing.

Does no one have any background in media studies? Feminism is constantly being explored in academic journals, game studies, cinema studies, literature... This is pretty common, and a pretty accepted field of study? Why isn't anyone here attacking any one of the literally 1000's of publications produced each year exploring feminism in games and other media? I'm sure many of you would disagree with many of their results as well?

Is it because she dared to try and make a video cast of her perspective instead of writing an article or journal? Or was it that she used KickStarter as a vehicle to fund her perspective? Although this is the first time I have ever heard criticism of "over-funding", it just all smells of prejudice.

Who cares if you agree with her or not? Shes publishing her ideas via a medium she personally chose, funded by people who personally chose to fund her? Geeze, Google "feminism as explored via Buffy the vampire slayer" and randomly pick on an author, makes as much damn sense.

Posted:A year ago

#94

Paul Smith
Dev

189 148 0.8
I'm just perplexed how anyone can disagree with her?
Because she takes everything out of context and could find sexism in a rock, The reason she had so much hate with the kickstarter was because she was asking money for something she was already doing for free not like that justifies it. Her previous videos are mostly crap she even took down her own Bayonetta video because of how out of context and badly researched it was.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbihPTgAql4

Posted:A year ago

#95
I have not seen a strong counter argument to her video. No one has taken her premises and showed how they negate her argument. What's most telling is her point is being ignored or missed because of the point itself. She mentioned that the damsel becomes an object that the hero and villain ultimately fight over. It seems this thread embodies this very notion as the author has become the subject of debate and her argument summarily dismissed! Her video isn't an "opinion" and reducing it to such disregards her research. She has made a strong claim and there hasn't been much by way of counter arguments.

Ken

P.S. - Evolutionary Biology?! Seriously?!
P.P.S. - Given that gaming as medium started long after the feminist movement, one would surmise games should be one of least sexist mediums. The influence of feminism should have made its way into gaming, it did not. Despite the progress of women in the broader society, industries still seem to be sexist when they begin. Why is that?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Kenneth Edusei on 13th March 2013 12:30pm

Posted:A year ago

#96

Shane Sweeney
Academic

353 254 0.7
Again Paul this is the first time their has been critism towards over funding on kickstarter. That's retrospective justifcation of the backlash against her. As stated she is one of thousands, I'm sure people would feel this way about many academics talking about feminism in the media? If people don't find the relevance of exploring sexism in princesses baking cakes, wearing pink and always needing a man (or mens) help then fine, but it's pretty crazy to suggest this is a controversial concept. Thousands of writers explore media this way, why single out *this* one, I suspect (sadly) it's because people are simply not well read enough or exposed to academia enough to of seen this sort of material. Their is nothing out of the ordinary about her views or writing and their is even less controversy around exploring sexism in the damsel in distress mcguffin as they have done so in cinema for 40 years or more. How dare anyone treat games like film or literature.

Posted:A year ago

#97

Paul Smith
Dev

189 148 0.8
Her video isn't an "opinion"
@Kenneth Edusei
Yes it is, calling something "regressive crap" is an opinion.

Posted:A year ago

#98

Dave Herod
Senior Programmer

517 734 1.4
Yes it is, calling something "regressive crap" is an opinion.
And that was the entire video?

Posted:A year ago

#99

Paul Smith
Dev

189 148 0.8
The whole video is her telling the viewer her opinion. Of course there's some facts but the way she does her videos are mostly one sided and bias. One good example would be that she never mentions that dinosaur planet had two main playable characters one being a Male fox, from watching her video she would have you believe that it was only Crystal who was playable. Like I said she has a habit of taking things out of context and skewing facts.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 13th March 2013 3:41pm

Posted:A year ago

#100

Emily Knox
Associate Designer

47 96 2.0
At nearly 100 comments later, hopefully we have established that people are allowed to pledge money however, and to whomever they want. That people creating a Kickstarter have the freedom to create whatever project within Kickstarter's guidelines they wish. And, as several people have already mentioned (and been ignored), Anita is not allowed to donate any of the pledged money to charity.

With that in mind, is anyone interested in talking about the content of her first video? Did anyone recall that she did, in fact, offer solutions to avoid the trope? That she advised you can still put forward criticism on elements of a video game whilst praising and acknowledging its success? That she actually enjoys (a number of) the games she is talking about? That she says, yes, this trope was set in place long before video games? That this was one part of the 'damsel in distress' and that more current games will be discussed in her next episode? Or is everyone exhausted by now? I am.

Frederic Eichinger, well said. I think you have summarised my feelings towards the comments here better than I can. It is with a heavy heart that I express my opinion at all given the lack of effort and tact shown by some. I have actually really enjoyed talking about Anita's video to a number of friends and colleagues, in particular, use of the 'damsel in distress' in one of my favorite games of all time, Shadow of the Colossus. I'm looking forward to her next video, I'll be very interested to see if she covers this particular title.

Posted:A year ago

#101

Curt Sampson
Sofware Developer

596 359 0.6
At nearly 100 comments later, hopefully we have established that people are allowed to pledge money however, and to whomever they want.
Apparently not. As Paul Trillo writes just a few posts above yours,
The reason she had so much hate with the kickstarter was because she was asking money for something she was already doing for free...
This general idea seems just absurd to me. Nobody in this forum complains when someone takes a game that's already had a lot of preproduction or even production done and starts a Kickstarter campaign to get money to finish it, though they'd done the work up to that point for free. Nobody complains when a game project requests $100,000 and gets a million. I doubt anybody would complain if Mike Stephenson started a NetHack improvement Kickstarter and got a large pile of money from fans, though he's released many complete versions of the game for free. We'd all most likely say, "it's great that he got a large financial reward for doing what he did."

So why is it different for Sarkeesian's project? She took her passion to the Internet and found an audience of fans willing to reward her well for doing what she likes doing. Yet a bunch of people are running around yelling that there's something terrible about her and her fans both doing something they want to do and getting something they want for that. It looks like it's the subject matter of the project that's the issue here, and I don't think you need to be a feminist of any kind (I don't think I'd be considered a feminist, though I have sympathy for their general aims) to say that this smells strongly of misogyny.

In her video itself she didn't make her argument with the level of rigour I'd prefer to see, being a bit of an academically-oriented person myself. But she did it at a level probably more appropriate to her audience and aims. And watching it, I think I do agree, yes, that the "damsel in distress" trope is used widely enough, and so much more often has a female in that role rather than a male, that there's probably some sexism going on here. I don't know if we agree on how bad this is or what should be done about it, since she didn't really get in to that, but that I realize there's something going on here that I didn't really see before is definitely a good thing in my opinion.

Where the real point was made for me was not in her video, but in the reaction to it, particularly in this forum. That the damsel in distress trope is widely used and puts females far more often than males in the role of the object to fight over seems highly likely to me, almost indisputable. Whether this is sexist or not, and to what degree, seems to me a perfectly reasonable question to be considering. That there's such a strong reaction from some people here against admitting that the trope is probably widespread and that the question is reasonable to consider came as quite a shock to me. So I'm now convinced that, yes, there is a lot more sexism in the video game industry than I'd ever thought. The irony is that I was convinced not by Sarkeesian but by the people who most strongly believe that there isn't sexism, or it isn't a problem. Congratulations; you guys did a great job of making her argument for her.

My eyes have been opened, and I'm not particularly pleased with what I see.

Posted:A year ago

#102
@Paul

Reread my comment above as you obviously did not realize your fallacious claim has been addressed. Let's engage in a genuine conversation about this or not at all.

Kenneth

Posted:A year ago

#103

Shane Sweeney
Academic

353 254 0.7
FTL Faster Than Light is the perfect example. A game that was 90% completed, design set in stone, with a team of two + sound engineer. They requested $10,000 and collected $200,000 and have gone on to even after that go on and sell the game to many non backers to good financial benefit.

The additional funding didn't expand the game play, or expand the range of supported platforms (iOS which would be awesome, remains another revenue stream when released), nor did it give the game a graphical overhaul, however no one remotely criticizes FTL for over-funding (nor should they!) On the contrary it's a KickStarter "success story" and an indie darling especially after being nominated for an IGF award!

How dare they!?!? Where is the industry or gamer back lash? Oh wait, their is none. People are searching for problems with Anita because she is treating video games how academics have treated all other art forms for decades. How dare she right? People can continue to wrap their closed minds with a retrospective "over-funding" justification, but it's pretty damn transparent.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Shane Sweeney on 14th March 2013 7:01am

Posted:A year ago

#104

Paul Smith
Dev

189 148 0.8
[link url=""]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iUxcLxClQ08#![/link] This video pretty much explains why Sarkeesians video is bad, I admit its a bit coarse but its get the point across.

Posted:A year ago

#105

Morville O'Driscoll
Games Blogger & Journalist

1,508 1,282 0.9
Curt said:
In her video itself she didn't make her argument with the level of rigour I'd prefer to see, being a bit of an academically-oriented person myself.
This!

I don't care how much money she got, but the fact that she's written a Masters thesis (annoyingly now removed from her website) proves that she can at least approach something from an academic perspective. The Youtube video is fine for the people who already know her work, but don't want something too academic. But for those of us who actually want a proper academic investigation of feminism within gaming, it's a wasted opportunity. She could've really got into the nuts-and-bolts of sexism/feminism/masculinity within gaming, and the fact that she hasn't (yet, at least) makes me feel like this is less than it could be, and falls short of what the industry could realistically do with.

Is this putting a lot on her shoulders? Yes. Is it far-and-away more than her Kickstarter intended? Yes. But surely aiming high and falling short is better than just aiming for what you know you can achieve?

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 15th March 2013 11:25pm

Posted:A year ago

#106

Adam Learmonth
Studying BSc (Hons) Computer Game Applications Development

16 7 0.4
Oh boy (and girl, to be fair).

- She asked for $6,000 on Kickstarter, presumably having budgeted this for researching and developing her series, and ended up receiving many times that. But what would you do if someone throws an "extra" $150K at you? Say thanks but no thanks? Has she actually spent ALL of that money to make half a dozen YouTube videos?

- Yes, I DID learn something new from the video - namely, that the sexist overtones in Mario and Zelda that I took for granted as relics from a bygone era of necessarily "immediate" video game narrative are far more prevalent and long-lasting than I'd given them credit for. To yawn and say "But everybody knows this!" is blatantly untrue, and moreover, it's a point that I'm happy to see made again and again until a weak female character requiring assistance from a strong male protagonist is no longer the default go-to plot arc.

- It's the first in a SERIES of videos. People crying that she's only made derogatory remarks about the depictions of women in video games: have you considered that she may well be covering examples of positive female representation such as Samus, Lara Croft etc. in the NEXT episode?

Posted:A year ago

#107
Paul Trillo said:

[link url=""]http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iUxcLxClQ08#![/link] This video pretty much explains why Sarkeesians video is bad, I admit its a bit coarse but its get the point across.


@Paul

After watching the video, Genki fails to undermine Anita's argument. He initially agrees that there is sexism. He should have stopped there but he wanted to try making a point. His point, at its core, is sexism in gaming is a by-product of laziness. The implication is if we address the laziness, we will address sexism. His argument is so bad that I will grant his point to be true. Granting his argument validity doesn't address cases in which games can contain the damsel in distress trope and not be lazy by design. The opposite can also be true.

Another conclusion drawn from his video is that gaming is unintentionally sexist. Even if it is true that games are unintentionally sexist, should we be more accepting of the resulting sexism? Should we treat the problem of sexism differently because it is intentional or unintentional?

Genki has engaged in fallacious debating and did not prove Anita's argument is false or misleading. Take up some philosophy, you'll see the flaws more clearly.

Ken

Posted:A year ago

#108

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