Here's Anita Sarkeesian's First 'Tropes Vs Women In Games' Video

It's been a long road for feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian. Last year, she ran a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for a new video series examining sexist tropes in video games — her goal was $US6000, and she raised nearly $US160,000.

In the midst of the Kickstarter drive, Sarkeesian was subjected to a brutal, organised harassment campaign (someone even made an online game that simulated punching her in the face), all of which drew even more attention to her project.

As Sarkeesian explained to Kotaku, the extra funding gave her the opportunity to increase the scope and scale of the project, but it's also meant a lot more work and some delays. She's now released the first episode in the series, which takes a look at the "Damsel in Distress" trope. Certainly a prevalent trope, that one.

Sarkeesian has already launched a tumblr to highlight many examples of this particular trope, and this video will take a deeper look. Watch it.


Comments

    And then, the internet broke in two.

    I'll see you all next week *disconnects cable*

    Look, we all know that nothing of value is going to be said here in these comments. There are probably a few sane people that thought "oh, what's the harm in seeing what's being said?" and thought they'd give it a try anyhow.

    Don't bother. Civil discourse simply doesn't happen when talking about Anita Sarkeesian, as much as many of us would like it to happen.

    Turn back now. Find a better place to talk about this.

      I liked it. She made some good points. I had no idea Miyamoto was such a perpetrator of sexist tropes against women! ^_^ That Starfox thing was pretty interesting.

        I'm not making any comment on the quality of her work, just the quality of the responses.

        EDIT: Also, I'm at work and haven't had a chance to watch yet.

        Last edited 08/03/13 11:14 am

      OK - I was really skeptical after the Bayonetta video, which I thought was way off the mark (even though I didn't care for the game for other reasons) and the infamous lego video. This was actually pretty good. My only criticism is that I'm not really sure that the Zelda series is faling back on a sexist trope, so much as using the exact same plot 25 times. I'm also hoping Part 2 has a more critical look at more recent releases.

        Yeah, to give Zelda her own game is a bit hard when it's a reoccurring conflict between Link, Ganon and Zelda based on their set in stone Triforce roles. It's not like you can really do anything better than a Misadventures of Tron Bonne. And to be fair to Nintendo the franchise is named after her and they've spent a lot of time moving the character away from being helpless. On top of that she's one of gamings most highly respected female characters.

          Just because something is or has been in the past, why should it continue? Why can't it change?

      AMAZING COMMENT. Here, have all my internets.

        That seems a little excessive. Keep some of your internets for yourself, I wouldn't want to deprive you of all the cat pictures the world has to offer.

    I see she disabled comments and ratings. This looks like any other youtube video where did that $160,000 go?

      Wouldn't you if 99% of the comments you were receiving were nothing more than rancid, misogynistic abuse from 12yr old dudebro dickheads?

        No. The sexist comments created free marketing and got her the money so why wouldn't you use the same tactics to get the views.

          No, the morons abusing her were only proving her points about the widespread negative attitudes towards women by male gamers (not every male gamer as some of you would have us believe). I wouldn't use the same tactics to 'get the views' because A: It would only undermine any point I was trying to make, making any argument or, more appropriately, any rant, I put forth completely invalid.

          And B: I'm not an asshole.

        But that's just the nature of YouTube really.

      Kickstarter doesn't work like that. She asked for $6,000, got it, and the rest is profit unless stretch goals are brought into it. Just like if she were to invest $6,000 of her own money, make the video, then sold it and earned $160,000. Stretch goals are a great motivator but they're just not applicable to some projects. She could maybe get some guests to speak, up the production values, etc but unless she wants to make it an all singing, all dancing, musical extravaganza there's not much room to spend $160,000 without wasting it.

      Think of it this way, you're a game developer. You need $100,000 to make a game. You setup a Kickstarter fund and make it clear that all backers get a copy of the game you described when it's finished. Your Kickstarter takes off and you raise $1,000,000. At that point you're under no obligation to nine more games with the money, or make your game ten times more than what you initially promised. Unless of course you set stretch goals.
      It would be considered bad form to skimp on development costs at that point, but it's no more immoral than a studio making a $100,000 game and selling 200,000 copies at $5 profit on each copy.

      Last edited 08/03/13 11:03 am

        But the difference between the games and this video series is they are basically pre buying the game for a cheaper price and I think every successful game on Kickstarter has added extra features when they make more than their original goal.

        The problem I have is she didn't need the money in the first place. She already had the camera, the games and consoles so what was the $160 000 for? Even if she only got $6000 what would it go to?

          Time I'd say. Making decent you-tube videos takes time and effort, so if she is doing this full time it would act as her main income. The larger the amount obtained through kick starter, the longer she can produce videos. There is also software, upgrading of equipment, maintenance general running costs... etc,

          It can be games, movies, toys, whatever. Kickstarter rules are universal. She didn't ask for $160,000 she recieved $160,000. She set up a Kickstarter fund for $6,000 to make a series of YouTube videos. She reached that $6,000 and people continued to give her money knowing there were no stretch goals. She never mislead anyone. The only obligation she has here is to release what she promised when she reached the $6,000 funding goal.
          It seems like she will be putting that money to good use, but it's her money. She can flush it down the toilet if she wants.

            I will simply say I contributed, and I have never felt 'ripped off'. She asked for money to do a certain thing. She has done it, and well. If she ate well in the meantime, I am good with that.

    8 or so months and $160,000 for this? It's the exact same format as her other videos... I suppose people also kickstarted her new collection of Gucci shoes.

      No, that's just what some people tried to trick people into thinking had happened when they faked a screenshot of her Twitter feed:

      http://www.gameranx.com/updates/id/12761/article/what-happens-when-reddit-thinks-anita-sarkeesian-spent-1000-on-shoes/

    The picture behind her says it all really. Zelda looks awesome in Link's gear. Peach? Not so much.

      Because princesses typically don't become tradesmen. She's still wearing her crown! :P

    Seriously?
    People produce content of this quality or higher on youtube all the time and dont ask for a $160,000 to do so.

      She didn't ask for 160,000. She asked for 60,000.

      Also you might have missed the point that it's the first in a 'series'.

        Even if her series is 30 episodes long, that works out to be $5.3k per episode. Which is a lot. So I can understand the gripe.

          She asked for $6000. It's not her fault people gave her way more than that.

            This is true. I only hope at the end of the series she does something worthwhile with the extra money. If she doesn't need the full $160k (and I sincerely doubt she does) hopefully she will give it to some people who do.

              She's also employed a few people to work with her. I doubt they work for free.

          30 episodes with the amount of research, scripting and filming needed would take over a year. Giving backers rewards, paying for full-or-part-time research, advertising and maintaining press and earning a living while doing this stuff will be expensive over that time period. And it's not like she'd be getting that much money for doing nothing anyway, unlike some CEOs, etc.

    I don't know who this women is, nor do I care. From what I've heard she's simply another among millions, attempting to spout her opinion.

    Can we just ignore her? Like we do 99% of other people...

    The attention we give to things simply empowers them.

    lolz at the all the knobs who're bitching about "Where did all the moniez goes??". You think she spent $160K just on this?? You idiots know she's making a series, right?? Seeeer-riiieeeees.

    Series > single episode, therefore, not all cashmoniez used yet.

      I'm just finding it funny that most of them seem to be against the core concept of her videos, implying they didn't back the Kickstarter fund themselves, so why are they so outraged that she didn't release a $160,000 solid gold YouTube video?

    She did an excellent job of explaining the trope and how it was used, however there are times where her personal bias creeps into the video to the point that you can't take her view as a neutral thought process. Plus she has also twisted and manipulated facts, character changes and story arcs to suit her line of thinking and also avoided games with strong female main characters.

    When she does get around to talking about character with a strong purpose (Samus, Lara, Jill Valentine and the like) you'll quite possibly see her treat them as not counting because they are the media definition of "sexy"

      Isn't her other complaint that most of the 'strong female characters' are just male characters which are arbitrarily made female? (And as such lack any defining 'feminine' characteristics, while displaying traditionally masculine characteristics)

        If I remember her past ramblings, this is possible. In the end this series is a no win situation if you are male. We are evil and will be called out as such.

          That's probably going to far. But to me it seems like she had a theory about video games (not being an avid gamer herself, I think) before she had the facts. Which if you believe Mr Sherlock Holmes, is a capital error, as you are bound to bend the facts to fit the theory, not the other way around.

          As opposed to reality, which is a no win situation if you are female.

        Ah yeah she did mention that previously, and wrote about that in her uni thesis.
        I struggled to understand her point though, as she failed to mention (or I failed to notice) what her idea of a non-male strong female character was specifically.

          That's what I'm trying to get my head around.

          By splitting up characteristics into male/female isn't that creating a sexist agenda from the start? And who gets what characteristics? Strong = male? If so that would mean that any female lead who is strong is just a male character who has been made into a female, so that would mean no female lead could be strong and still be considered a proper 'female lead' which would put us right back at the start again where women are only portrayed as stereotypes with only 'feminine' characteristics...

          Huh???

        But... isn't that a good thing? Should we really be saying that strong female characters have be to be feminine? I'd take "male characters which are arbitrarily made female" over "stereotypical female who is also strong" any day. Why not break down the gender roles and say "Hey, this is a girl. She fights like a guy, acts like a guy, because there's not that much difference between men and women"

      You thought so? I thought she did a very good job of keeping her bias out of it. She was trying to focus on the topic, 'damsels in distress' in older video games, and I'm sure she'll try and cover stronger female characters later. And I don't really think she tried to manipulate the facts, either, she said that most of the damsel games used the story just out of how easy it was and she expressly said that she did not think that the games were all sexist but that they shouldn't continue to use the trope as they perpetuate the delusion that women are weak and incapable of fending for themselves.

      And I would wait until you watch the other videos in the series until you know what she will say to call her out on it.

        i tried to watch it from an objective approach but its bias did reveal itself over time...first 10 minutes or so is pretty good but its biased like today tonight...she fails to present a proper counterpoint to her arguements and a number of her later arguements made me err (like talking about shiek as a strong female but in the next minute stating that the male never becomes helpless and solves own puzzles etc whereas shiek would usually appear when you were otherwise unable to complete your quest but she brushes that aside as giving items)

        oh and the imagery...she intentionally picks images to create a negative impression regardless of its relation to the topic...for example talking about princess peach as a ball and showing mario and bowser playing basketball...when someone trys to link unrelated images like that its the definition of bias

    Where did the money go? At least one video so far came out of it.

    http://www.gameranx.com/features/id/13224/article/the-mystery-and-fraud-of-tropes-vs-men-in-videogames/

    Where did the money go for the "tropes for dudes" thing? Who the fuck knows?

    What is the point she's trying to make? Is there a summary? I watched the video and I am not entirely sure what her problem is. If I were to guess, I would say that she doesn't like that the object of some games is to rescue helpless women (or the idea that a "helpless woman" is something that can exist).

    Is she trying to suggest that there have never been instances of this happening in real life? People do worry about the welfare of their loved ones, and I imagine many would go to great lengths to protect or rescue them if the need were to arise through disaster or conflict. So is the problem that it's equally likely for a man to be placed in a position of helplessness? In my apparently sexist opinion, I don't think it's an entirely similar case. Men are sent out to protect their communities and families; it's typically a male role to protect. Women are considered vulnerable, because they are.

    Basically she's saying that women can fend for themselves, and they don't need men to help them. I really do believe that is what makes this a feminist rant. I do not see how admitting that females are the more vulnerable sex makes you sexist; and I'll never understand the feminist perspective.

      I believe her argument is that a damsel in distress is reduced to an object that is controlled and used by the male characters. Which is what she finds objectionable.

      I think her problem is that this is the most common representation of women in games, which is hard to argue with. It doesn't even make that much sense any more: a gun doesn't require a a physically strong person.

        I don't think its the most common representation of women in modern games any more. I've said this below but looking around at the games I own, very few involve a damsel in distress as a central plot arc, while many include strong and interesting female characters. As storytelling in video games is maturing it appears to me that they are moving away from this cliche.

          What do you mean 'any more'? Gone with the Wind? Tarzan? King Kong? We're talking about something universal, not a mere fad.

            What I was saying is that the gaming industry seems to be moving away from this cliche and creating better female characters as a whole. Case in point: all you examples are movies that were written a long time ago, where as the majority of female characters in games of the last 5 years or so were not damsels in distress.

              This is the first of many, though, and doesn't just cover 'current trends' but 'history of gaming'. You can't just say 'Well, it is less common now, so is irrelevant to where we are'.

                It may not be irrelevant but it does make her agenda less tenable. I mean if the point of her videos is to inform the populace into action to create better games today then it won't be very effective by pointing out that we didn't used to make said games.

                It's like a video saying "Hey did you know that women couldn't vote a long time ago and now can? So let us vote already!"

        But it does require a person with the intent to use it. You still need to create a story to justify the use of violence, to have something to fight for. Are they protecting their children? And they fighting for their religion? There's always going to be something the protagonist needs to be protecting, and that which they are protecting is going to be considered inherently weak.

          I see your point, but the damsel in distress has been used a lot more than children or religion or revenge or even country. I agree that it's gotten a lot better in the last couple of years

            And why exactly is that a problem? Maybe because it's somethign that is most appealing for young guys? To imagine rescuing a damsel in distress? Are you saying that's wrong? Are we creeps for finding that appealing?

      How un-stereotypically manly of you to write so verbosely. It would have been far more efficient to write "ARCHAIC GENDER ROLES 4 EVA".

        The two genders do play different roles. They are roles that have persisted through-out time, and will continue on in to the future. I'm not saying that you can't reverse the roles; it's common-place enough for men to take on a typically female role, and the reverse. I'm just saying it's ridiculous to suggest that a gender neutral society is the height of humanity, and something we should strive for.

        We have differences, and there are probably a wide range of practical reasons for them.

          "Men have to be taller than their girlfriends."
          "Men have to be stronger than their girlfriends."
          "Men have to be more capable in physical tasks than their girlfriends."

          These are some classic sex based beliefs that I think a lot of people, men and women, have, and they draw from the same assumptions that leads to the classic 'damsel in distress' formula.

          In my opinion, the interesting question isn't whether media portrays these 'sexist' assumptions, as clearly it does constantly, it's why they continue to portray them as people of both sexes still continue to enjoy them. Specifically, how much of these beliefs is biologically part of our genetic programming, and how much is culturally shaped by our upbringing in a historically male dominated society? And if a large part of this is our genetic nature, is it possible or even desirable to attempt to override it through cultural conditioning?

          We've seen amazing strides in women's equality in many civilized countries, which clearly shows that society can function much better and more fairly when equality of the sexes becomes a firmly held belief. We can never go back to the days when women where not given equal rights, and we look down upon societies that treat women as second class citizens. So clearly a large component of past sexism is due to historical and social habituation and can be changed to create a better society. But, after destroying so many long held beliefs about women's inferiority, we still seem to be battling with these remaining questions of women's presentation, capability and strength.

          Most men would unequivocally state that women and men should have equal rights, but what about the more subtle questions of - "would you prefer to have a girlfriend who was shorter than you, not as physically strong as you, and less capable in physical tasks, or the complete opposite". Giving the answer "equally tall, strong and capable" is a cop out - if you can only choose from the two, which would make you more comfortable, and more importantly, why? Most men would prefer that their girlfriend wasn't a head taller than them and could beat them in an arm wrestle, because it would emasculate them, i.e. deprive them of their traditional gender role as a male. In the same way, many people today would not be as comfortable switching around the story formula and having a "dude in distress", with a strong female character saving her boyfriend who is weak and ineffectual. Will this bias change in time?

          I'd like to see if, as society eases out of the sexism of the relatively recent past, we leave behind our traditional gender roles completely, or if they cling to us as part of our genetic nature that can never be completely overridden.

          TL:DR: I agree with Hayden. My personal belief is that women are meant to be, in the aggregate, sexy and nurturing, and men are meant to be strong, as a broad generalisation, and that no amount of time and conditioning will be able to completely change that. But that could just be because of my upbringing and current environment.

          Last edited 08/03/13 11:30 am

            Why does it matter that their girlfriend can beat them in an arm wrestle? We're fine with not being the strongest people in the world, we always expect there'll be someone stronger but for it to be a woman it's a big deal? What's the logic? We, as a people, should learn to start ignoring our conditioning more and appreciate that there's a huge spectrum of people out there, many of whom dislike these generalisations being applied to them.

              I agree mostly.

              If all of that stuff is just conditioning and we can get past it, then we should, and the sooner the better. But what if some of that is part of our very nature, shaped by millions of years of evolution, inseparable from what makes us human? If that's the case then it might not be possible to completely suppress it.

              There's definitely a huge spectrum of people, and you can't apply generalisations to any one individual, but I'm talking about the sexes as a whole, as a broad average. I don't think homosexuality is wrong, any more than I think being left handed is wrong, but on average, most people lean towards being heterosexual. And in a similar vein, I don't think that everybody prefers men being stronger, just that it's a preference that most people will lean towards on average.

              Clearly you think it's either just a by-product of our historical sexism, or it's something that's innate but can and should be overridden. You could be right! I'm personally pretty sure it's innate, and I'm not convinced either way on whether it can or should be overridden. There's heaps of things that are innate to humans that for societies benefit we have suppressed, like when we teach our kids to share and not hit others, so time will tell if this is one of them.

              You also have to understand that the notion of gender roles is a very important part of a persons self image - "I'm a man" "I'm a woman" etc, so it will be a slower process to change this if it's possible at all. Probably at the level of changing somebody's religious views i.e. It might be easier to wait for the older generation to die for the ideas of the newer generation become the norm than to try and change somebody whose very self image relies upon these beliefs.... And that's just if it's conditioning, if it's genetically innate, then it could be harder or even impossible.

              Last edited 08/03/13 12:50 pm

                It is innate. I can't even believe this is up for debate.

            This is both a response to you, but also the general conversation going on at this article, so there's some quasi-unrelated notes in here, sorry.

            Don't you see how that screws men over too? We're long past the point that men and women need to fulfil those roles in order to survive. Instead, stuff like as you say, there are questions that negatively affect us both - "would men feel comfortable with a girlfriend taller than them?" A lot of shorter guys get really uncomfortable and unfairly self conscious because of this, and tall women are told they're intimidating (literally words said to me, and I'm 5'10", hardly outside the norm). By eliminating the cultural stereotype, women don't feel that they have to be shorter than their male partners in order to keep them comfortable (because that's our job, right? -_- ) and in return, men don't feel emasculated simply because of height, of all things, instead being judged on more meaningful qualities. Most feminist "rants" as so many call them, actually call for changes that would help both genders feel less pressure to match a particular image of what is right for them.

            As for the actual change? Yeah, it's tough, but in order to see if getting rid of sexist stereotypes like this is possible, we have to actually try and change it. It's slowly happening, but so much of it feels like companies putting in one type-breaking character to throw feminists a bone, rather than a legitimate effort.

            As for genetic nature that can't be overridden... I guess you're right, that's just a matter of time, to see if that's true. But if it is true, I like to think that as a species, we can deliberately change to be more than what was evolutionarily convenient thousands of years ago, despite our genes.

              Absolutely. As I mentioned in my response to Spruppet, there are many examples of where we have suppressed our innate predispositions to create a better society, such as teaching our children to share and wait in line and save some chocolate for later - things that are not natural and in some cases are against our genetic programming, but make society better. I'm just not convinced that gender roles are so easily changed.

              And I mostly agree that in a modern society it would benefit both men and women to change. I'm definitely not arguing that it's better to stick firmly to gender roles, just that on average it might be mostly unavoidable. I'm also not entirely convinced if it is better in every single way, especially around the topics of motherhood and a woman's desire to have and care for babies, and how the workplace and societies expectations should specifically structure itself around this (I believe) primarily female calling, rather than taking a completely gender neutral position. But that's a pretty big topic of itself.

              I do believe that even if traditional gender roles are completely innate and immutable, we still have a way to go before we hit that hard limit, and society as a whole would be better if we at least softened our definitions of these roles. I think this is happening now and is unavoidable, and I'm glad my daughter will grow up in a society that is embraces equality and tolerance.

              Last edited 08/03/13 12:44 pm

              You can't change what you're born as. See the multi-generations of homosexuals who've suffered abuse and discrimination, purely because people thought they had 'chosen' to be gay. We all now know that isn't true, people cannot choose their sexual orientation. Just like how peopel cannot choose which gender they will identify themselves with.

              We're lviing in a society where such diversity and uniqueness is absolutely OK and celebrated. But imagine if you were living in a much harsher times. Would you have any patience for standing up or fighting for the rights of homosexuals when you're busy doing back breaking work every day to feed your family? Life in general is VASTLY more forgiving now. Think of seemingly innocent inventions like the washing machine, or the refrigerator. They've freed us from having to actually DO a lot of the manual work taht was simply unavoidable in the past. In such a past, where if you're not careful you could easily run out of food and your entire family starves, you have no room for diversity. Everything MUST have utility.

            "Men have to be taller than their girlfriends."
            "Men have to be stronger than their girlfriends."
            "Men have to be more capable in physical tasks than their girlfriends."

            I'd argue that this is a by-product of genetics. Men on average are taller than women (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Human_height) and therefore will generally posses more physical strength and perform better at tasks where physical strength is a requirement.
            The preference stems from men and women exercising normal selection criteria, i.e. if a majority of women are shorter than me, then it's more likely a woman I find attractive will be shorter than me as well. Which therefore means its also more likely that historically a majority of the women I have been attracted to would also be shorter than me. Thus over time my preference becomes for women who are shorter than me. That's not to say I couldn't be attracted to a woman taller than me, rather that in terms of a preference, the numerical superiority of shorter women I find attractive wins out.

          Gender roles that make sense in a hunter-gatherer society have no relevance in an accountant-sales-clerk-factory-machinist society. Put it this way: the American system of measurements made sense in a time when almost everyone worked on farms, and commonly needed to measure things like bales of hay or pieces of timber, and when they didn't have access to any kind of assisted measuring equipment. But in the modern world it's an absolutely stupid system, that only persists through inertia.

            Yep, but while many things have changed since our hunter-gatherer days, things like finding a partner and raising children remains mostly the same, and that's the area where these gender roles kick in the hardest. While a weaker man has no real disadvantage in today's work world, if a woman has a sexual preference for a stronger man, that preference is triggered purely on appearance, and is not related to how capable and efficient he is in his work. If you believe, as many liberal people today do, that homosexuality is something you were born with and not a decision you've made or product of your upbringing, then the same could be applied to the sexual preference a woman might have for a stronger man. For all the work and art and industry that we do as a species, we are still strongly motivated by nothing more than procreation in our day to day lives, so in my opinion, something that ties into that so intrinsically is not something that can be easily changed.

            Does it make sense in today's world? Mostly no, not in Australia at least. But neither do wisdom teeth and yet we still have them. But if you're saying that it only persists through inertia, then that analogy wouldn't work on you as you're saying that you don't believe in the validity of the biological underpinnings. It's a dividing topic that's for sure!

            Some things haven't changed: Women bring life in to this world; women alone nurture that life. Men can only offer a supporting role to the best of their ability to assist in both regards; be that hunting, going to war, or working in an office. It is an undeniable truth, replicated through-out the animal kingdom.

            These "roles" give us our best chance at survival.

            You could say that they persist in nurture! Haha!

      I agree with men having a natural protective role. I think women need to remember that despite what they might think not being the protector doesn't make you any less valuable or less equal. Both sexes can do things better then the other. That doesn't mean your worth less.

      I will guarantee there are millions of women worldwide who could whup your ass in a trice.

      Women are not more 'vulnerable' unless you are looking at things like rape statistics and that's not an issue of vulnerability, it's just that men are more likely to engage in rape and women are predominantly their targets.

      However, you do have a purdy mouth, shame such archaic nonsense comes out of it.

        There are many good points on both sides of this debate (really there are!) - but this isn't one of them.

        Arguing that women are physically equal in strength is just factually wrong. While there are strong individual women that could "whup your ass", on average women are far weaker physically men. It's not even close really, when it comes to pure physical strength, women are completely overshadowed by men. Arguing that women are as strong as men is almost as bad as arguing that men can give birth just as well as women. It's just not true.

        Last edited 08/03/13 2:07 pm

          And what does pure physical strength have to do with it? Oh that's right, it was brought in as a painfully tired justification for sexist notions of gender roles with men 'protecting' the 'vulnerable' women. I was taking the mickey and making a sardonic joke at this sad conservative tripe.

          We are in a post-industrial society. There is no need for these pathetic stereotypes. Even in pre-industrial societies they are social constructs based on maintaining power structures in a simplistic fashion.

          However we have them, because a large part of the population are so myopic, lazy and used to their social roles that they hold these views and enforce them on their children, rather than examining the new, fuller and more efficient methods we have developed to live our lives.

          That's where you guys come in.

            I really do believe you are missing something here.

            People are free to take on what-ever role they like, they can choose to take advantage of whatever systems society offers to make life more "efficient", but they can not escape being human. We are defined by certain parameters, and there is no escaping it.

              What definition of parameters are you talking about? The physical competitive differences between male and female are minimal, and we have countless tools that can be employed to remedy the difference rapidly. The reason you don't see it happening that often isn't due to genetics but due to social conditioning.

              That would be the social conditioning you're reinforcing right now, by the way.

                You sir, are either naive or deluding yourself. Here's just one example:
                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Olympic_records_in_weightlifting

                  You sir, have the critical thinking skills of a cigarette butt.

                  The reason you see that list skewed towards males is not because women are GENETICALLY INCAPABLE of competing, given similar lifestyle and training. It's simply because of social conditioning.

                  But yes, at the very apex of competition you could argue that a few percentage points of the male population would have a base genetic capacity for very limited kinds of certain physical activity that would exceed the base genetic capacity of the apex of female subjects.

                  And?

                  The only people who would actually consider that relevant to anything in the universe are misogynistic Men's Rights Activists and people who suffer issues on the autism spectrum that inflict them with a disorder that to all intents and purposes is pathological pedantry for its own sake.

                  Whichever you are, you have my sympathies.

                  Burnside, you're an idiot. Or a Troll.
                  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sex_differences_in_humans
                  Strength, power and muscle mass
                  Typically, males are physically stronger than females. The difference is due to females having less total muscle mass than males, and also having lower muscle mass in comparison to total body mass. While individual muscle fibers have similar strength, males have more fibers due to their greater total muscle mass. The greater muscle mass of males is in turn due to a greater capacity for muscular hypertrophy as a result of men's higher levels of testosterone. Males remain stronger than females, when adjusting for differences in total body mass. This is due to the higher male muscle-mass to body-mass ratio.Females tend to convert more food into fat, while men convert more into muscle and expendable circulating energy reserves.

                1) So, men are stronger than women - fact backed up by countless peer reviewed studies.
                2) Men are more likely to be violent - fact backed up by countless peer reviewed studies.
                3) Men are more likely to rape, with women being their more likely target - fact backed up by countless peer reviewed studies.

                So here's the reason men are traditionally the protectors and women are more vulnerable:

                If I'm walking through the city back-streets with my wife at night, it's not a group of violent women that I'm afraid of harassing us. I don't feel like she'll need to protect me from being attacked or raped. If we encountered a problem, it would most likely be from a group of men. They would either target me physically or target my wife sexually. Being stronger and more willing to use violence than my wife (as a man) I fit more easily into the protector role. Being weaker than me, and more likely to be raped, she would more easily fit into the vulnerable role. Don't tell me that in "modern society" situations like this don't occur. I'm not sure how this is even debatable? You say we have countless tools to remedy the difference, what, like guns? I like living in a country where the average person does not carry a weapon.

                Perhaps we're arguing different things and not on the same page, because I can't even see where you're coming from honestly.

                Last edited 08/03/13 3:21 pm

                  Men are not 'stronger than women'.

                  Please try and think more clearly.

                  A more accurate conception of what you are trying to say is 'A higher percentage of men have greater muscle mass above a certain baseline than women, because social conditioning encourages them to engage in lifestyle activities that build and maintain this kind of physical development.'

                  Human beings do not get spat out with a given physical condition and stay that way their entire life.

                  Yes, there is a difference in some of the fundamental physical elements between male and female bodies.

                  No, these differences aren't that big and nothing that a minimal level of lifestyle conditioning can totally change.

                  No, this is not relevant to anything.

                  The reason your wife is 'weaker' than you and more likely to be raped isn't because she is a precious flower forced into her pathetic state by the terrors of genetics (unless she has an illness of some sort).

                  It's because men like you have spent a few thousand years making damn sure that women don't have 'engaging in rough physical activity and learning self defense techniques' as an equal option in their developmental menu the way that men do.

                  Now you get to decide whether you think that's a good thing or not.

                  And whether you would be comfortable walking the streets with a wife who is physically stronger than you and more capable of defending herself, while living in a society where men are conditioned not to engage in rape.

                  Because that's the world your views hold us back from.

                  I can't reply directly to you burnside, I think the reply tree has run out.

                  I think we see the world so differently that we won't come to any sort of understanding. I believe it's a scientific fact that men are, across the board, much stronger than women, not just among athletes but amongst the general population. That this physical strength is not based primarily on social conditioning, but it build into our underlying genes, and that women are physically and genetically incapable of being as strong as men with a similar level of lifestyle and fitness choices, on average. I don't think the difference is minimal, I think women are far weaker on average.

                  You obviously disagree with all of that. We can't really tackle any sort of meaningful argument about whether it makes a difference in today's world that men are stronger, if we can't even agree on this basic premise, something that in my mind is a scientifically provable fact backed up by countless studies.

                  Also, the way you tell people to "think more clearly" and telling single_malt that he has "the critical thinking skills of a cigarette butt" shows that you're actually a condescending wanker, and I'm guessing somebody without much life experience in general. It is possible to have debates without resorting to personal insults* (irony I know).

                  Last edited 08/03/13 4:05 pm

                As a biologist I would say one major difference between males and females is hormone levels. They are controlled by your genes not social conditioning. I work with two males that have much higher testosterone levels than me. Without doing any focused physical activity they have more than twice my muscle mass. Women have much lower testosterone levels than men so it is harder for them to put on muscle. Not impossible, just harder.

                Social conditioning defiantly effects behavior and the roles people take, but by saying that the physical differences are small you are undermining your argument with statements that are untrue.

    Probably a coincidence, but it's cool to see this announced on International Women's Day :)

      Really? I'd say that was probably very intentional.

        I'm going with coincidence, when this was released it was still the 7th in America (her main audience). Still very cool ^_^

    I am trying to think of a single game I have played in the last 5 years that featured this cliche. Looking around at the various game boxes around me, the only one I can think of is Bioshock 2 (which is debatable seeing as Eleanor is probably the most powerful creation in Rapture. And it also includes a pretty excellent villain, Lamb, who's pretty stereotype defying herself)

    Put simply, I don't know how widely this cliche is used in modern gaming. I suppose this means I will have to watch part 2 of this series.

    (As an aside, I don't see where this $160k is going. Assuming 20ish episodes you are still looking at 6-8k an episode)

    Edit: I just thought of 1 other one. Shaundi from SR3.

    Last edited 08/03/13 11:00 am

      Yeah - I'm wondering about Part 2, because based on the examples provided, I'd have to say gaming is getting a lot better. The only damsel in distress I can think of recently is the Princess in Dishonored, but that's not so much a gender thing as the fact she is a child.

        As a whole I think female depiction has improved massively as the industry matures. We are getting more and more female characters which are depicted in more and often positive ways. Examples off the top of my head include Faith from Mirrors Edge, the female characters from DA2, many of the female characters from Skyrim (Astrid or w/e the Dark Brotherhood lady is the example that I am thinking of).

        Last edited 08/03/13 11:15 am

          Lets not forget tomb raider!

          Honestly, if you examine the plot, story and content of most games they feature a playable role that is male centric or what you'd expect a man to be involved in. As a business it would be a bad business decision to design a game that would make it's customers feel emasculated (considering the majority of games are male). Arguably, video games give men a chance to adopt a role they wouldn't usually which is a major subtle draw I think (skyrim for example).

          Last edited 08/03/13 12:04 pm

            The idea of having an adventure or being in a conflict is only male centric because past media has predominately put males in that position.

            With regards to the business decision thing, there was an article on PA awhile ago that was on that topic. It discussed the relevant success of games that feature a female protagonist, and argued that those games on did comparatively worse because they had much smaller marketing campaigns. It was an interesting read - it will be interesting to see how Remember Me (I think that's what its called) performs, as it seems to have a good marketing push behind it and feature a female protagonist.
            If you want to read it : http://www.penny-arcade.com/report/editorial-article/games-with-female-heroes-dont-sell-because-publishers-dont-support-them

            I think the idea that you have to pander to your predominant demographic is false one and leads to unoriginality.

              I think it has a lot to do with the type of game as well. Take Tomb Raider for example, definitely a AAA title with a large marketing budget - I'd be interested to see how many women are playing this compared to men.

              I also think a lot of debate comes from the fact that many people have different definitions of what they call gamers. Personally, I define a gamer as someone who regularly plays new release games on consoles or PC. By this definition, out all the gamers I know, only a handful are women. However, if I expand this definition to include mobile and Facebook games, suddenly it now includes almost all women I know (sure, this is only anecdotal evidence, so take it with a grain of salt).

              If I was running a game developer though, I sure as hell would want to find out who's playing my games (i.e. my target market). If giving the player a choice of having either a male or female protagonist doubled my target market with only a 20% increase in development costs, then it's a no-brainer - of course I would do it because it maximises my profits. However, if not many women are playing the game, and having either a male or female protagonist only meant a 10% increase in my target market, then I would be actually reducing my profit by catering the game to women as well as men. This is simply be a business decision and not inherently sexist.

              Last edited 08/03/13 4:33 pm

                You are assuming that men wont support a game that has a female protagonist - or rather wont support a game where the female protagonist isn't overtly sexualised or objectified. I am not sure this is true. The latest tomb raider has had the sexuality of Lara's appearance toned down and is trying to tell an interesting story around the development of a female lead - and it seems to be doing quite well. Remember Me doesn't have a sexualised female lead and it seems that everyone is excited for it (bit hard to use as an example because it isn't released yet).

                I hope that people will support a game that has an interesting and engaging story regardless of the gender (or sexuality) of the protagonist . I believe (and the PA report argues this) that games with female lead don't receive the same support not because the gaming public doesn't want a female lead but because the publishers don't put the same effort in marketing them - perhaps because of an outdated view of the mental maturity of the gaming community.

                There is a caveat here though, some games where immersion is key (Skyrim is the best example I can think of) undoubtedly requires at least the option to play as either gender.

                  Not at all, to clarify - I was initially replying to your reference to the PA article postulating that games with a female protagonist didn't do as well because they weren't marketed as heavily, Tomb Raider features a female protagonist, yet has been marketed like any other AAA title, and looks to be doing well. However, who is playing it? Is it still predominantly males? Or are more women playing it now?
                  The point I was trying to make was that having more games with a female protagonist isn't necessarily the solution to the problem, not because men won't support the game, but because no-one seems to be asking women what they want want from games, or what type of games they want. Would a Black Ops or a GTA work with a female protagonist? Would this make the game appeal broadly to women? Would it be commercially viable? These are the types of questions I believe should be being asked.

    I think it's ironic how the males are demonized and almost barred from speaking out or having any say on the issue. It's one of the few modern social issues that actually discriminates against participation from a party. Anyone can stand up and say they deserve more, they're downtrodden. That their life is a living hell because women aren't represented well in games. But where do we find any sort of reasonable assessment of the issue when it's constantly moving past women in games and moves on to women in everything and minute details? What's so insulting is that it will forever be in their eyes an argument that has no reasonable rebuttal. We can't say it isn't right to chastise an entire group for your cause, we can't say that general social issues like media sexploitation are felt by both sexes because it happens MORE to women, we can't say it isn't right to observe minute details from the outside and make base judgements based on a knee-jerk reactions etc. We can't do any of that.

    I am at times in absolute awe of the idiocy of some of these pieces because it's such a wasted opportunity. It's a very real issue that's almost impossible to see anywhere else in this day and age that is being mishandled so greatly. I just wish there were some sort of focused story or documentary out there that looks at specifics of women in games in detail as opposed to most of the stories which are usually something along the lines of "look how everything in the world is against me." This isn't the road to credibility. It's vitriol without any structure or insight. I mean the sort of things that are brought up can be attached to the plight of basically the representation of anyone. Minorities get it pretty bad but no one gives a shit about the beatdowns people get for speaking a different language in the street. They have no respect for men in general or anyone else, the message won't get through if it's said through gritted teeth.

      My enormous privilege has been extremely slightly eroded! This must be stopped!

        Well done in reinforcing exactly what he said!

        You really couldn't have proved Login's point better. It's not just about eroding privilege, its the idiotic idea that we can't all contribute to the debate.

          Who said we can't contribute to the debate? I have had plenty of conversations with people about this topic. Posted plenty of comments. I feel I have been able to have my say.

          I thought this video was quite a good start, It showed an example of a stereotype that is often used and asked is it time we moved on from this idea. The next one is supposed to see if newer games still use it. That seems like a beginning of a "focused story or documentary out there that looks at specifics of women in games in detail".

          I'll watch the next one and see where it goes. Hopefully some developers and publishers will notice and maybe we will have some interesting changes in gaming.

      MEN'S

      RIGHTS

      ACTIVISM

      FTW

      PLS JOIN US IN THE SWEATLODGE FOR TOTALLY NON GAY BONDING

      NO NASTY GIRLS ALLOWED

    can I just point out that all her arguments boil down the the female not being the main character, I mean really, the reason the female character is treated like that isn't because they are female but rather because they aren't the protagonist or player character.

    you could pretty much make the exact same arguments for any other non player character in the game regardless of gender.

      So... where are your examples of games in the same era (she is mostly discussing the history of the trope and how it sets the stage for women in games now, so the time period is important) of those she discusses, of a female lead rescuing a male character? Or heck, a male lead rescuing a male character?

      Nowadays, things are a lot better. Not ideal, but better. But still, I rarely come across a male in distress who is treated like an object to claim at the end of a story (literally can't think of an example), while women still occur in that role, even if it's rarer now.

        to be fair the trope isn't used because of the reasons she cites, it's used because it's easily and accessibly understandable at a moments notice without becoming dominant. it's like gay relations in games, people always complain about gay relations being forced on them because they stand out, but rarely do people notice how many heterosexual relationships are forced on people, so gay relations aren't often featured unless it's part of a larger player choice system.

        anyway you missed my point, my point is that the trope isn't the issue, few of her complaints are actually a product of the trope but rather a product of the female not being the main character, every character is an object in relation to the main character because they exist to facilitate the player characters game, take the common jail break segments, the person in distress isn't able to escape because it wouldn't make for a good game regardless of gender, you'd take a few steps and then the game ends because they escaped without you, same goes for the player character, they need to be able to escape, not to facilitate the trope but because sitting in a jail cell for the majority of the game wouldn't be fun, not unless the game was entirely built around that concept.

        I'm not denying that the trope exists, or that it was born of an inherently sexist time, but believe it or not game design doesn't come down to gender politics, very few games use reverse tropes or the like because they aren't common, they stand out and become a dominant factor in the games existence. don't get me wrong, I'm not against female leads, I'm against female leads for the sake of having female leads.

        look at the whole star fox adventures thing, the woman didn't go from the hero to powerless because of a trope, she went from hero the side character because the IP changed to a game that starred a different character, and rather then throw away the asset entirely they decided to re-purpose it, she needed to fill a different role because hers was taken. it was no longer her game so she was no longer the lead character.

        and another thing to note, the princesses in mario and zelda aren't powerless, they rule entire kingdoms, and when all is well they are amongst the most powerful entities in their respective worlds, but mario is just a plumber, and link just a guy, but that's not a fun game, nobody wants to play a game where link just sits around doing nothing, or mario just fixes leaky pipes, they want to go on an adventure, the whole damsel thing is just there to facilitate the much less gender concerned idea of the commoner to hero plot which is prevailent in all media.

        she makes some entirely valid points, she just doesn't understand why they are valid or for what reasons, at least if she does she hasn't shown it. the trope may have come from sexist roots, but it isn't sexist in common application (and it's much more common then you might think for women to feature as powerful characters, and men to be weak).

        I'd put money down that one of her examples of the trope in a modern game is a game set in a time where knights and soldiers were all men and women weren't usually capable of defending themselves, and if she does I'll laugh as she tries to say it's the trope that makes the woman appear weak rather then the game setting and theme.

    I watched this and felt it probably could have been more concise. That said, I didn't put any money down for it, so who am I to complain really?

    I guess the other thing that kind of bothered me was that the examples presented were primarily:

    a) Old games.
    or
    b) Nintendo series, which are kind of expected to follow a formula.

    It could be argued that Nintendo could change things in regards to what Sarkeesian is talking about, but at this point their characters are pretty well defined in regards to their nature and roles and changing that doesn't really seem like Nintendo's jam.

    Looking at the length of of the video I was waiting for games outside of those examples to be used, but it seems like they're coming in the next video. Honestly it didn't feel as objective as I was hoping, and as much as I wanted to like it , I probably won't bother following this series.

      My plan is to watch Pt2, see what examples she picks for female characters in modern games, and then praise/condemn the series based on that. Because there are a lot of good female characters in games today, and if she cherry picks bad examples then all believability is gone.

        I've read around a little bit since watching the video, and now I'm inclined to do the same under the understanding that this video was meant to be more of a primer for the rest of the series.

        That said, even with the older characters I can think of several examples, even from the Nintendo camp such as Dixie Kong or Samus. I'm not going to pretend the numerous illustrations and FHM style posters in Nintendo Magazine System didn't exist though, lol.

      I think as Part 1, she's just setting the historical stage that women in games have come from. Know your roots, sort of thing. As a look at gaming history, it was a very good video.

    I can't watch this right now because I'm at work, but does she mention or ackenowledge Super Princess Peach or Super Mario RPG at all since they are subversions/inversions of the trope?

      No, but she sounds like she might in Part 2. Well have to wait and see.

      Super Princess Peach was acknowledged, but it was really more cast in the light as a sole counter example to her other appearances as a damsel in distress. I personally never played the game or know how well it did, but I heard it was actually quite good though.

        I would have thought Super Princess Peach would be pretty damning anyway. Her power is basically being an emotional wreck.

          Well she didn't really mention that, so I'm guessing she didn't play it either, haha!

      Super Princess Peach is going to come up later. I imagine it will be looking at how her powers are literally based on her being overly emotional, which is another bloody awful female stereotype.

      But we shall all see how this series pans out!

    hear that nintendo? you should stop just rehashing mario games because you're sexist pigs, not just trying to cash in on a extremely successful franchise and formula.

    after watching this I kinda feel sorry for Miyamoto, basically a witch hunt on a guy who dipped into western pop culture of the time who's idea is going through the cloning machine at the demands of investors.

    Frankly I always find her presentation stiff and somewhat emotionless. Not bordering on to monotone, but rather lacking passion. It feels as if she's reading of a preprepared script someone else wrote, rather than expressing her own ideas. On top of that, I feel as if the pace could slow down a bit, she could be a bit more concise, and she should really reveal the POINT to the video earlier.

    21 minutes it she finally explains WHY the trope is bad. The video could really be more interesting and enlightening... but it's not. As it is, it's probably going to have some difficulty reaching audiences who don't already agree with her

      It feels as if she's reading of a preprepared script someone else wrote, rather than expressing her own ideas.
      Well that mirrors her thesis on the exact same issue (although more focused on tv rather than games) where she essentially had 45 pages of quotes and references and 5 pages of her own argument.

        It's not just this video though. It's her general style. All of her videos are like this. It makes it hard for the audience to connect with her, and that makes it harder to get her point across

          Oh I don't disagree, I was actually trying to further that point, sorry.
          Here's a comprehensive, well thought out and proper criticism of Anita you may find interesting.
          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6gLmcS3-NI

        In her defence, that's probably not her fault. I know in my Arts degree any idea was worthless unless some other academic had said it before and you either quoted or referenced them. Continuing that academic habit into these videos is understandable.

          I understand that, and in fact having done some myself, I've been told I don't do enough research, so I'm completely on the other end of the scale.
          Having said that, I still think it's disproportionate to have 45 or so pages of 'references' and quotes, and 5 pages of actual analysis, when dealing with a thesis.
          But I'm not an expert...

    Am i the only one that had no idea who this woman was until reading the story? Very strange. I have discovered a lot about the controversy in the last 10 minutes though. So to satisfy both sides, here are my quotes:
    "Good for her for following through with it despite the crying of acne ridden man children"
    "Bitch should go make me a sandwich"
    Pick which one you like better, i have no strong opinion on the matter.

      Sounds like you weren't listening. I followed it easily enough, and I've been running on 2 hours sleep. She makes some valid points in a crystal clear fashion. I don't get why it's so hard to fathom. I mean, a lot of male gamers bought MW2 and 3 and convinced themselves that those piles of shit were playable-- and that would have been a much tougher battle than understanding and accepting that, historically, there has been a bit of a shitty attitude towards women in gaming.

        Thats just your opinion. My opinion is i dont have a strong opinion on the video. We also differ on MW2 and 3. I enjoy them, so again another difference of opinion. I guess thats just how opinions work.

          No, no, that's a fair call. I was probably a little harsh after responding after a bevvy to 2(7). For me, I've been watching this for a while now and while she does make some good points, particularly in the historical assessment, it's the overwhelmingly knee-jerk, negative, angry teen reaction that has pissed me off and illustrated her one of her points about levels of sexism amongst dudebro gamers so overwhelmingly, at least, to me. And, on a personal level, I've noticed that increasingly, particularly in shooters and the few MMOs I play, over the last several years.

          But yeah... if you have no strong opinions on the matter, c'est la vie. Moral outrage at the actions of other players for their bullshit doesn't make me a better person, it just makes me more susceptible to being distracted when I try to play certain games. I think I need lessons on ignoring this shit in-game.

          ...then again it's so much fun tearing into some douchebag who's being a complete ass in-game!

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now