The Anita Sarkeesian Hater That Everyone Hates

The Anita Sarkeesian Hater That Everyone Hates

In mid-October, I was approached by some Gamergaters who wanted to show me something important. They had bagged a big one, they said. They said they had tracked down one of the people who was sending death threats to feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian.

I didn't know how to react. Members of Gamergate -- an amorphous campaign that has been going on for months now -- had themselves long been accused of harassing and doxxing outspoken critics including game developer Brianna Wu and actress Felicia Day. Though many Gamergate supporters had publicly denounced that sort of activity, the movement's anonymity and lack of leadership has made it impossible to hold the entity called "Gamergate" accountable for anything. Anyone in the world can declare themselves part of Gamergate. As mainstream media from the Wall Street Journal to Rolling Stone drew links between Gamergate and death threats, the movement's outspoken supporters complained that they were being misrepresented, and that in fact they denounced all forms of harassment. But those who have been harassed see the campaign as the culprit -- when Sarkeesian cancelled a planned university speech following a terror threat, she pinned the blame on Gamergate.

By offering up the person they said was a Sarkeesian harasser -- and subsequently pointing out the good deed to me and other reporters -- these Gamergaters who contacted me were hoping to prove that they were indeed against this kind of activity. In and of itself that's not a difficult claim to make -- what sane person would ever proclaim themselves in favour of death threats? -- but these people seemed particularly interested in clearing Gamergate's name. "Look," they wanted the world to know. "It's not us."

I was sceptical, but the nugget of a potential story stuck with me, and I decided to start really looking into the man who was accused of these things. In the days that followed, both through interactions with that man and other reporting, I would get something of a glimpse into the mind of someone obsessed, someone who seems to have made dozens of videos and numerous Twitter accounts all for the purpose of demonizing Anita Sarkeesian.

This is a man who appears to have created a handful of fake YouTube accounts to comment on his own videos with messages like "GREAT, ANITA IS A LIAR."

This is a man who told me that he doesn't want to hurt Sarkeesian, but that he "would not be sorry" if "a ghetto girl fan of GTA [met] her on the street, and [gave] her a nice punch in the face."

This is a man who, in a video posted on YouTube just a few days ago, took off his pants and air-humped toward a picture of Sarkeesian, saying "suck my d**k, b***h… suck my d**k, b***h."

Meet Mateus Prado Sousa, a man whose harassment of Anita Sarkeesian appears to continue to this day, through some of the world's most popular online platforms.

The Anita Sarkeesian Hater That Everyone Hates

In September of 2013, someone named Celebrinando_Mateus wrote a comment on gaming site IGN. "About GTA V GameSpot review," that commenter wrote, "The reviewer is a transex. He/She call the game Misogynistic… GTA is a satire. Dark humour! It is sarcastic… I will never read GameSpot again."

Linked on the bottom of the comment was a Twitter handle, @gamesreflexoes. Don't bother trying to look it up -- it's suspended, just like dozens if not hundreds of other Twitter accounts that have been linked to Mateus Prado Sousa, who apparently lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and writes for a website called Celebrinando.

Sousa first came to the attention of several writers in gaming when websites published their reviews of Grand Theft Auto V late last year. During that week, Sousa took to Twitter and email to voice passionate opinions about the reviews he didn't like, specifically targeting those who criticised GTA's depiction of women, like GameSpot reviewer Carolyn Petit and game critic Leigh Alexander (a friend of Kotaku who occasionally writes columns for us). When I asked Alexander if she was familiar with Sousa, she said he had been spamming comments on her public Facebook account for ages.

"He had a high amount of activity towards me around the release of GTA V," Alexander said, showing me an email that Sousa sent her last year, in response to a satirical review she wrote about Rockstar's open-world game:

You call GTA V Misogynistic. In a game where killing is normal, sexism is nothing, this is a dark humour game after all. Based on male crime vision. GTA is a satire, dark humour! It is sarcastic. The irony is the point of radio station of gta v. Sorry, you should work for Human Rights or some feminist group instead. For you GTA is a celebration of killing too?? Or a celebration of human traffic, because in GTA 4 they sell babies in a box. GTA is all about bizarre things, it so bad that you, a game journalist dont know that. Murdering, Stealing, Drugs, but misogyny is the problem?

This sort of rhetoric -- a common response to progressive critiques of video games -- actually echoes the opinions of many Gamergate supporters who have spoken out against the inclusion of feminist criticism in game reviews. But Sousa's GTA V crusade happened a year before Gamergate even started. In fact, this sort of sentiment has been floating around gaming culture for years now. And it's not a shock to see Sousa sympathizing with this newly-formed campaign. "I'm not part of GamerGate movement, despite agreeing with it," he wrote in a blog post last month.

These days, Sousa has a new target: Anita Sarkeesian. His YouTube channel -- which he promotes excessively -- is full of videos with titles like "Questions to destroy Anita Sarkeesian" and "Anita Sarkeesian Unmasked." He has a thick accent, making much of his English difficult to understand, but his point is always the same: Sarkeesian's criticism of the depiction of women in games like GTA and Assassin's Creed is wrong.

The Anita Sarkeesian Hater That Everyone Hates

Most of Sousa's videos focus on Sarkeesian's arguments -- "Anita confuses being sexy with being sexist, and one thing has no relation to the other," he writes -- but they often delve into personal insults, and some cross the line into full-on repulsiveness. In one of his most recent videos, titled "I HATE ANITA SARKEESIAN - Stand Up Comedy," Sousa takes off his pants and starts thrusting his pelvis at a screenshot of Sarkeesian's face, repeating "Suck my d**k, b***h." Later, he begins addressing Sarkeesian directly: "F**k you! F**k you!"

Most members of Gamergate don't like Anita Sarkeesian, either. But they might dislike Sousa even more. Searching his name in conjunction with the infamous hashtag reveals nothing but people deriding and condemning him, and several Gamergaters have taken credit for drawing lines between Sousa and a few now-suspended Twitter accounts that sent unambiguous death threats to Sarkeesian last month.

Sousa, however, denies that he was behind those accounts: "They are my fans and followers," he told me in an email two weeks ago. And in a blog post on October 24, he wrote: "I was accused by some members of the #GamerGate movement, of having threatened feminist Anita Sarkeesian on Twitter, but this is not true."

So now we're in murky territory. Did Mateus Prado Sousa send death threats to Anita Sarkeesian? Just how far does this obsession go? Let's take a step back and go over some facts.

1. Over the past few weeks, dozens of Twitter accounts have continuously flooded people with messages about Anita Sarkeesian as well as links to Sousa's YouTube channel. All of these accounts have followed similar patterns, often using handles in Portuguese and variations on the word Celebrinando. Almost all of these accounts have been suspended by Twitter.

Here's an example of what that has looked like (hit Expand in the top-left corner to make the text larger):

The Anita Sarkeesian Hater That Everyone Hates

2. It's unclear whether these accounts are all the work of Sousa, but in an email to me, Sousa took responsibility for a few that followed the same pattern: @CelebrinandoPor and @CelebrinandoRJ. Both of those accounts have also been suspended. To this day, as Sousa continues publishing videos, brand new Twitter accounts continue to pop up and follow this same routine, sending the same links and messages to as many people as possible.

There appears to be nothing anyone can do about this -- though Twitter's security team will suspend each account after enough people report it, the flood of new accounts seems to never end.

3. Twitter isn't the only place you can find fake accounts linked to Sousa -- many of the comments on his YouTube videos about Sarkeesian are from what also appear to be dummy handles.

For example, under the video "Anita Sarkeesian Unmasked" there are comments like this:

The Anita Sarkeesian Hater That Everyone Hates

The top account, Ana banana, links to the YouTube handle mateusapresentando4. The second, Tyuii Dswe, links to the YouTube handle mateusapresentando3. The third, Catie Hjj, links to the YouTube handle mateusapresentando5. All three accounts -- along with a fourth, named, of course, mateusapresentando2 -- have Liked and commented on many of Sousa's videos. Again, there's no way to know whether this is all the work of one person or if it is a group, but the patterns are consistent and clear.

4. On October 11, a number of Twitter accounts with handles containing the word "Anita" started popping up. They followed that same video-flooding pattern. One example: an account named @AnitaOfJesus that repeated the same messages as Sousa's @CelebrinandoRJ.

The Anita Sarkeesian Hater That Everyone Hates

5. That same account -- @AnitaOfJesus -- also sent the following messages to Sarkeesian:

The Anita Sarkeesian Hater That Everyone Hates

#GGC14 is a reference to Geek Girl Con, where Sarkeesian was speaking that weekend. Earlier that day, she had tweeted about a flood of slandering messages from one of Sousa's accounts -- CelebrinandoRJ -- which led Twitter to suspend it. Right after that, the death threats began.

Yet… though @CelebrinandoRJ and @AnitaOfJesus tweeted the same exact messages, Sousa denies that he's responsible for the latter. He says it -- along with the other, similar Twitter accounts that also sent death threats to Sarkeesian -- was created by his fans.

"I don't know the true identity of them. I just know they are just trolls, they are having fun at the expense of the GG people," Sousa told me in an email. "TROLL death threats, it is not real, any idiot would notice that seeing the messages they were posting. And they did it because Anita was the reason my account was banned."

Many of Sousa's recent actions have been publicized and brought to people's attention by two Gamergate supporters, who both say they have incontrovertible proof that the man behind all of those videos is indeed one of the people who said he would kill Anita Sarkeesian. One of those Gamergaters, who goes by the Twitter handle @brofreq -- a reference to Sarkeesian's own Twitter account, femfreq -- said they used a phishing link to snag the IPs of both AnitaOfJesus and Sousa's personal email account, and that the addresses matched. (He showed me the IPs he said he took, which did indeed match -- though in the era of Photoshop, that's hardly irrefutable evidence.)

The other Gamergate supporter, who goes by the Twitter handle @sanc, called Sousa a "sad sociopath." When I asked sanc on Twitter if we could talk about what had happened, he sent me a nice note explaining why he joined Gamergate and emphasising that he and others in the campaign have continually reported Sousa to Twitter and to the police, despite their own public distaste for Sarkeesian.

"He has been relentlessly seeking [attention], and we tire whenever we see him, actively trying to shut him down as soon as possible and report him to authorities, as we do with other offenders," sanc said.

For some it might be tough to reconcile the idea of anyone condemning harassment while simultaneously supporting Gamergate, but it's something I've experienced personally. When one particularly terrible person attempted to "dox" several Kotaku writers and other reporters by posting lists of addresses and phone numbers, I browsed through the hashtag on Twitter and saw Gamergate supporters rallying to report the doxxers to Twitter. (The doxxers also used the hashtag #Gamergate, though they went after moderators of the Gamergate subreddit Kotaku In Action, too.)

Yet at the same time, some Gamergaters have used Twitter to facilitate a culture of fear, where speaking out against the hashtag or even just drawing their attention can lead to a flood of unwanted attention and notifications. For anyone in gaming who uses Twitter to network, promote their work, and interact with friends, it can be exhausting and demoralizing to find oneself on the receiving end of what has become Twitter's Eye of Sauron.

It really can be a draining experience. I've been through it, as have many of Kotaku's staff over the past few months. Many people under the Gamergate banner will draw the line at death threats, but are more than ok with pulling their targets -- such as Sarkeesian -- into endless strings of 140-character insults and meme-like images designed to excoriate those who draw Gamergate's ire.

When I first reached out to the Gamergate supporter @brofreq, one of his first questions was whether or not I had spoken to Sarkeesian. He wanted me to know that many Gamergaters have contacted her on Twitter about Sousa, yet she hasn't publicly addressed them. Like some others in the campaign, he was disconcerted that Sarkeesian wouldn't acknowledge what they saw as a coordinated effort to help her out.

"I know she had his [CelebrinandoRJ] account suspended the morning he started this campaign against her, but she hasn't responded to our various messages letting her know that we know who it is," brofreq said. "I have not seen her officially acknowledge this as a threat towards her."

But Sarkeesian is aware of Sousa -- in fact, she says she's known about him since well before he landed on Gamergate's radar.

"I have been aware of this individual's activities and identity since he started harassing GameSpot over their GTA V review last year," Sarkeesian told me in an email earlier this month. "I reported his accounts to Twitter and to the authorities as soon as he began spamming specific threats at me on social media in September."

Besides, it'd be hard to imagine Sarkeesian ever praising the Gamergate campaign for anything. On October 14, three days after @AnitaOfJesus's death threat, Sarkeesian cancelled a planned speech at Utah State University because of yet another a terror threat that had targeted her. She pointed a finger toward Gamergate, publicly emphasising that the movement includes some of those who have done vile things to her in the past, like the man who in 2012 made a flash game called Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian. "This is a war on women in gaming waged by a group of sexist monsters," Sarkeesian tweeted on October 22. "If you are not a horrible human being, get out of #gamergate now."

Of course, supporters of the movement weren't pleased by that description. Some of them pointed out that, hey, they were helping fight harassment by reporting people like Sousa -- people who took things too far. But at the same time, even a cursory search for Sarkeesian's name on Twitter and some other Gamergate-heavy forums is enough to find plenty of angry messages, offensive caricatures, and inflammatory comments.

It does all raise the question: how much influence has the atmosphere of Gamergate had over someone like Sousa? Death threats on the Internet have existed since mankind figured out that computers could connect to one another, and Sousa has been waging his war against feminist critics for over a year now, but it's not exactly preposterous to suggest that these recent events might have egged him on. After all, many of Sousa's tweets and videos have included the Gamergate hashtag, even if many in the movement would like to see him go straight to a Brazilian prison.

"Gamergate seems to have ratcheted up his obsession with [Sarkeesian]," said Alexander, who herself has been the target of Gamergate's ire as a result of a Gamasutra article she wrote that harshly criticised gaming's consumer culture. "Or with insisting games are for men."

The Anita Sarkeesian Hater That Everyone Hates

Over the past few weeks, I've spent a great deal of time trying to understand Mateus Prado Sousa. It's been difficult, to say the least. When I first reached out to him by email, he asked for a link to my Twitter account, and he told me to follow one of his accounts to talk more. So I did. Then, over Twitter direct messages, I asked him if he was behind the accounts that had sent death threats to Anita Sarkeesian.

"I will contact you by email now," he said.

As we talked further, Sousa continued to deny sending death threats to Sarkeesian, though he did have some harsh words for the popular critic: "To me, she is a criminal, and should at least be arrested for many lies she says, instead of containing her speech on the real feminist discourse, true, that seeks to increase the space of women in society, but without resorting to sensationalism and wickedness. Everyone is entitled to opinions, but dishonesty must be punished."

I asked what he meant by that.

"I don't know, maybe a ghetto girl fan of GTA, meet her on the street, and give her a nice punch in the face!" Sousa said. "I don't encourage it, but I certainly would not be sorry for Anita. Dishonest, deceitful and perfidious people like her, ask to be abused in one way or another."

"Really?" I asked. "You think she should be harmed?"

"I did not say she should get punched in the face," he said, "but for sure I would not be sorry for her, I can assure you."

Eventually, Sousa got sick of my questions, and started responding to my emails with links to his videos and the following message:

I have no interest in clarifying anything, like Anita, I like controversy, it helps promote my work. Do not waste your time sending me more questions, as they will not be answered. If you do not want problems with me, send me any links to any articles you quote me. Will be best for you. Think what you want about me, dear. At most you'll be spreading my website for the world and I am grateful. Just be careful when publishing false information about me, because I do not know about your financial condition, but I have a lot of money and good lawyers, and I would not hesitate to sue Kotaku for libel.

So here we are. Is Sousa the person who sent death threats to Sarkeesian, or just an obsessive video-maker? Is he working by himself? With a group of fans? Just why does he hate Anita Sarkeesian so much? Does he just want attention? Should we pity him? Why is he doing this?

I'm not sure we'll ever have straight answers to those questions, but one thing has become as clear as can be: platforms and websites such as Twitter and YouTube have made it significantly easier for some people to bring misery to the lives of others. When a person seemingly wants to create endless accounts for the sole purpose of targeting someone -- and when that person lives in Brazil, far away from U.S. law enforcement -- what is there for the victim to do? For Anita Sarkeesian, this isn't an anomaly -- it's just one example of the type of obsessive person who has repeatedly criticised and castigated her since she first launched her Kickstarter campaign two years ago. Short of shedding social media entirely -- an unfeasible option for professionals in media -- how can anyone fight against this?

While reporting on this story, I reached out to representatives for Twitter and YouTube, but neither responded to my requests for comment. Last week, Twitter announced a partnership with a non-profit group called Women, Action, and the Media to expedite the harassment reporting process, but filling out their forms is time-consuming and exhausting, especially when you know that for every account Twitter suspends, the offending person or group of people can just make ten more.

Perhaps worst of all, Twitter places the onus of reporting on the victims. In this case, the lines of defence against harassment are A) Sarkeesian and B) whatever other activists decide to step in. Instead of Twitter or the police patrolling and reporting the actions of people like Sousa, the job has fallen to the targets themselves, aided in some cases by a most unlikely watchdog: Gamergaters.

Twitter accounts linked to Sousa continue to pop up every day. His videos appear to be getting increasingly repulsive. People just keep reporting him. What else can they do?

Illustration: Jim Cooke


    Tis a conundrum of sorts.
    The openness, freedom and anonymity of the internet are good things but also facilitate this sort of behaviour.
    The only way to really curb it would require greater control and less privacy by authorities. Aka what the USA is doing. And all agree that's bad.
    But complete freedom and complete safety are kinda mutuality exclusive.

    There has to be a good compromise somewhere, but that would require sacrifices on both sides of the net neutrality fence.

      I cant remember the source of the quote, but it is a good one.

      "Safety, Convenience, Freedom: Pick two."

      I'm no techno wiz just putting that out their. But Net neutrality is not the answer, safety may be a biproduct of it, but it is hardly the goal, as they need to track customers and make sure they are paying for what they are using... meaning one would actually have to answer for the shit they put on the net as it would be easy to find out.

      Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally, not discriminating or charging deferentially by user, content, site, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or mode of communication.

      Now privacy is a big concern, but people have to make a choice like they have in the real world, no one questions the millions of camera's everywhere (most people), as they keep us safe and if attacked we know there is a strong change they will be caught and held accountable.

      I fail to see why they could not just start with social media, getting providers and the websites working together to pass laws to make it possible for people to be held accountable. To build a system that keeps the users safe while remaining private. I mean people may think its the end of the world and a invasion but just remember they are already data mining the fuck out of users and keeping every bit of information they can... 90% of people freely hand over their private information on social media sites, the other 10% like me are not signed up in the first place.

      Last edited 15/11/14 2:36 am

    Brilliant article.

    EDIT: Finally...

    Last edited 14/11/14 1:39 pm

    Props to the GamerGate guys who are being outspoken about this guy going too far - I don't agree with their movement, but I'd have a significantly smaller problem with them if they got rid of guys like this.

    As for him: ugh. The internet's done a lot of good things, but giving extremists a public voice isn't one of them.

      The thing about the gamergate 'movement' is that it's not a movement, it's a group of unassociated individuals being placed under a common banner, and is accordingly incapable of ousting anyone.

      It began as a discussion and criticism of the lax rules surrounding game journalism, as a result of (according to her ex) Zoe Quinns relationship with a journalist who did a positive writeup on her game at kotaku US and whether there was an implicit conflict of interest there.

      This stemmed on reddit and 4chan into a discussion of corruption and conflicting interests of gaming journalism generally and how this should be better acknowledged and regulated as it is for other forms of media. Quinn was a very insignificant part of that, and the discussion quickly moved to bigger players, and the tendency of publishers to issue embargos, offer expensive 'gifts' to major reviewers, and establish through prerelease access contracts stringent regulations on what could be mentioned, including bugs, micro-transactions and anything the publisher would like the public to be unaware of,

      For most originally involved, including myself, this disturbing lack of regulation within gaming journalism is what gamergate represented and what I am still supportive of discussion for.

      Unfortunately now, because the name has been co-opted and painted negatively, the original discussion has died out.

      Last edited 14/11/14 6:05 pm

        Don't get me wrong - I think that's genuinely a discussion worth having, especially in light of something like the Unity embargo. But at this point the sexists and misogynists and crazies are too intertwined with the whole thing for it to be untainted. I think the best thing to do is back off for a couple months, publicly and loudly denounce the douchebags making death threats, and then next year say "look, this thing where YouTubers aren't disclosing deals is dodgy".

    Don't neglect to mention that the WAM process is being abused to get any supporters of Gamergate suspended.

    Don't neglect to mention that of the many death threats against Anita speaking in Utah, only one was in any way linked to Gamergate.

    Don't neglect to mention what you think of GTAV's apparent misogyny.

    a common response to progressive critiques of video games
    Citation needed

    When one particularly terrible person attempted to “dox” several Kotaku writers
    Don't neglect to mention if this individual actually supports Gamergate or not.

    Gamergaters have used Twitter to facilitate a culture of fear
    Don't neglect to mention all the Gamergaters, male and female, who have been doxxed and/or threatened.

    When you say this is a potential story, you are right. It only requires more research.

    Good lord Schreier, you write some interesting stuff. It might not be a particularly deep subject, the goings-on of a outspoken hatemonger on the internet, but it's still damn thorough stuff.

    Wonder if this fellow'll actually see his threat of suing through, although there's plenty of ambiguity stated here to dissuade such a follow-up.

    I wonder if he and people like him realize that the only reason that people even paid attention to Sarkeesian in the first place was the constant hate parade they've sent in her direction. It's the Streisand Effect in action. If they wanted her to go away they should have just ignored her.

    Last edited 14/11/14 1:59 pm

      Sarkeesian's work was widely known well before the concerted misogynist campaigns started.

        Sarkeesian's work was popularized by a Kickstarter campaign where awareness was largely spread by all the idiots popping out of the woodwork to complain about her.

        It's not like this stuff only started a few months ago when someone came up with the idiotic name GamerGate.

          You can make the case that the Kickstarter campaign brought her to mainstream attention (certainly mainstream media attention), but the original Tropes vs Women video series was already widely known before then (came out a year before the Kickstarter) and her other work was well known to a more limited audience also.

    Can we just let this thing die down now. A dead horse can only be beaten so many times

    Very good article though I stopped reading half way through as it was giving me major downer vibes. May read the rest after watching some puppy videos on youtube and reading about some friendly charity work

    "Many people under the Gamergate banner will draw the line at death threats"

    It's good to know they have standards.

    So let me get this straight, it's ok to harass as long as it isn't a death threat. Ok no worries, all is forgiven...

      Out of all of that.... That's all you could take out of it?

        I doubt this is all he took from the article. However, I believe his point is that if you're drawing the line on internet harassment at death threats then you've waited too long to draw the damn line.

        Well no.
        While I'm happy to admit that it was a glib oversimplification I stand by the point that it appears these gamergaters that claim to be policing harrassment have overlooked that harrassment does not have to be at the level of threatening violence to be worthy of sanction.

        "Yet at the same time, some Gamergaters have used Twitter to facilitate a culture of fear, where speaking out against the hashtag or even just drawing their attention can lead to a flood of unwanted attention and notifications."

        And I would add that clinging to the gamergate movement is stupid and necessarily linked with misogyny, no matter how noble a cause one claims to champion.

        I took plenty out of it, and it's a very interesting piece, that's all I care to comment on is all.

          So people should be free to talk about it and insult it and expect people just lie down and accept it.... Okaaayyy. If you fear being responded to then it's probably best to stay out of the conversation. You can't really have "You're all misogynist pigs now shut up case closed."

          Necessarily linked by whom? It's opponents? Yeah.

          Is this like it's all "white, single male basement dwelling men of privilege" again? Because Mateus Prado Sousa sure ain't...

          But if you want to call a red door a blue door because it has a fleck of blue paint on it and that's what certain people want you to believe then who am I to argue?

            "So people should be free to talk about it and insult it and expect people just lie down and accept it" No didn't say that, feel free to argue with me.

            "Necessarily linked by whom? It's opponents? Yeah." ummmm yeah, of course.

            "Is this like it's all "white, single male basement dwelling men of privilege" again?" No didn't say that either, thanks for putting words in my mouth let see if we can go three from three.

            "But if you want to call a red door a blue door because it has a fleck of blue paint on it and that's what certain people want you to believe then who am I to argue?" You are who you are, argue what you want, but if you won't accept there is a link between gamergate and attacks on women then we probably don't have much left to discuss.

    It is interesting but i'd like to give reviewers a tip:

    This sort of rhetoric — a common response to progressive critiques of video games — actually echoes the opinions of many Gamergate supporters who have spoken out against the inclusion of feminist criticism in game reviews.

    I was actually pretty offended at this. I'm offended that arbitrarily siding with a particular viewpoint is called "progressive" and anything else os referred to as "this sort of rhetoric". My problem is that simply pointing at a game and saying "that's misogyny" without unpacking the sound, background, pov, context, mechanics, colours, mise en scene, agency, lighting etc. is (to me) arbitrary judgement. There are loads of examples of heavy misogyny in video games; especially fighting games but satire is a legitimate form of storytelling. It seems like writers need to pretend it doesn't exist in order for them to justify their insecurities in their writing. I personally see this as catering to the lowest common denominator. When there's a huge culture of casual misogyny going on in the games industry, the only ones we seem to point at are the ones who actually bother to comment on their representations through the game. At the very least, the absolute dismissal of an alternate viewpoint makes me feel like you don't actually understand how to interpret all of the tools games use to tell story.

    The casual misogynistic culture of gaming won't be broken until you actually start empathising with some of the legitimate criticisms of the press' practice instead of outright dismissal. (It's obviously more than that but it's a definite barrier for me to see representation in games lowered to such a poor standard of comprehension in order for any argument to work) A lot of the gamergate kids have almost no clear or discernible ability to actually comprehend what they're complaining about so why don't we educate them instead of flinging more sh*t? People just make up these arbitrary rules about how it doesn't work because they're so unreasonable but how does being just as unreasonable and dismissive actually count as progressive? How does arbitrarily pointing your finger and only hitting the target half the time equate to progress? How does labelling people who simply disagree (and might have a point) without threatening to kill as a part of gamergate or comparing them to extremists actually help anything? Shouldn't we start raising the level of our discourse at some point? I mean the level it's at now is incredibly shallow and is almost entirely based on surface level observations. Everyone has a right to a voice and it's not just those who wantonly criticise without making any attempt to analyse exactly what's going on on the game, story or context. A lot of people acknowledge that a clearly male-dominated culture has been created in a market that has no reason to be so exclusive but believe it's time for the discourse to improve, not move closer to generalising everything we have a knee-jerk reaction to. Maybe we can actually go deeper than we have before and explore the idea of casual misogyny in more depth so that you can actually tell the difference between promotion and depiction for once.

    This guy is clearly different from those with simply differing perspective on certain depictions of women in games, why attempt to differentiate them if you were just going to arbitrarily generalise them at the same time?

    It was interesting though and obviously spurred legit discussion, i just hope we aren't all simply generalised as dissenting voices.

    Last edited 14/11/14 3:12 pm

      Just four paragraphs for that essay?

      Too painful to try and read.

        I gather that you didn't read the article either then.

          The article had nice, normal, human sized paragraphs, so was fine to read.

      Damn straight. Nobody seems to think it's possible to both agree and disagree with parts of an issue. Or to empathise with more than one side of a debate.

      Pretty much my entire beef with this kerfuffle is that there's only room for absolutes.

        I think it might be more accurate to say that the only voices ever being heard or echoed are the absolutes. I know a lot of people who agree with a few points from both sides, and they universally just want this whole discussion to die and never return. The issues themselves will remain, but if we could stop talking about them in the context of a damn hashtag then maybe the absolute opinions wouldn't be the only ones being heard.

        Meh thats how it is these days... No such thing as a center.

          Does not caring about the whole thing and just playing games count as a center?

            Neutral Vice President: Your Neutralness, it's a beige alert.
            Neutral President: If I don't survive, tell my wife "Hello."

              Haha. "I have no strong feelings one way or the other."

              Not meant in reference to this guy. He's a dick.

              Last edited 14/11/14 6:07 pm

    Ey, props to Kotaku for (finally) talking about this guy. He's clearly insane.

    Thank you for the excellent article Jason.

    Personally, I believe that Sarkeesian is wrong. I won't ramble, but games like Bayonetta 2 are both beautiful and empowering, and snide comments made against them are difficult to swallow.
    I do not understand why we are not standing up for the hobby that we love. Instead, we have become apologists looking for fault in our own beloved art.

    There's nothing wrong with the huge heels on Diablo 3's Demon Hunter. There is nothing wrong with the female portrayal in Bayonetta. There is nothing wrong with there being no female protagonist in Assassin Creed Unity.

    All of these arguments get a little tiring.

      I'm interested to hear more; how so?

        Reserved for later!

        Last edited 14/11/14 9:02 pm

          Hear hear. After all, last time I checked, all this critique of games was based around opinions. Yet somehow the opinions of someone like Anita are considered empirical evidence.

      If you want games to be considered a "beloved art", then I'm sorry, you need to accept that they will be subjected to the same critiques as other artistic forms. People can't have their cake and eat it too, demanding games be taken seriously and then throwing tantrums when somebody dares to take them seriously.

        It being subject to critique is fine. It being beholden to it is not.

    The fact that this guy puts in so much effort into hating someone for offering their criticism for a work that isn't even his is kind of frightening. Excellent article.

    Last edited 15/11/14 12:14 am

    The thumbnail for this article up in the top bar of the front page looked like a 5.25" floppy disk when I wasn't paying attention.

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