Brandon Strader

Tropes vs. Women / #GamerGate Conspiracies

2,105 posts in this topic

She is not even saying "you shouldn't be allowed to create games that promote sexist ideas."

yeah she's not. she's just saying 'if you do you're bad and you should feel bad.'

saying you think something is bad is clearly implying you think it shouldn't be done.

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yeah she's not. she's just saying 'if you do you're bad and you should feel bad.'

No she isn't. Maybe you should read the thread because people keep bringing this up, and it just isn't true.

Edited by Tensei

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No she isn't. Maybe you should read the thread because people keep bringing this up, and it just isn't true.

if it's not true then why would you make the video in the first place?

'i'm just going to point all this stuff out and leave it here. but if you disagree, it's not like i *explicitly said* it was bad. just that it exists.'

my wording is strong, but she's made this video to prove a point, and her point is that sexism in videogames is pervasive (mostly true) and BAD (not untrue) and the major issues that i have with this video is that she points out how developers had 'all these chances' to put strong feminine qualities on characters and didn't because SEXISM, or that a character *should have* been a woman but wasn't because SEXISM, as if these were all incorrect choices that should have been correctly made by using her recommended options. there's nothing in her descriptions that doesn't put the blame on someone's shoulders, even if that 'someone' is a vague 'the developers.'

how that's not saying 'this is bad and should be changed' i'm not seeing. i've already said it like 4 times but just because she didn't say it explicitly it doesn't mean it's not what she's saying.

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if it's not true then why would you make the video in the first place?

Because it's informative? Because people start talking about it and it generates awareness?

'i'm just going to point all this stuff out and leave it here. but if you disagree, it's not like i *explicitly said* it was bad. just that it exists.'

I don't understand your point. She's putting the material out there and allowing people to draw their own conclusions instead of explicitly telling them what to think. You know, like a typical documentary would. How is this so hard to grasp?

my wording is strong, but she's made this video to prove a point, and her point is that sexism in videogames is pervasive (mostly true) and BAD (not untrue) and the major issues that i have with this video is that she points out how developers had 'all these chances' to put strong feminine qualities on characters and didn't because SEXISM, or that a character *should have* been a woman but wasn't because SEXISM, as if these were all incorrect choices that should have been correctly made by using her recommended options. there's nothing in her descriptions that doesn't put the blame on someone's shoulders, even if that 'someone' is a vague 'the developers.'

how that's not saying 'this is bad and should be changed' i'm not seeing. i've already said it like 4 times but just because she didn't say it explicitly it doesn't mean it's not what she's saying.

I'm not even denying that she has a certain agenda behind the making of these videos. The problem is that neither you nor me know what it actually is, so until she explicitly comes out and says something along the lines of "Based on all these examples, I would like the videogame industry to do this and that", there is no point in arguing against it.

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I'm not even denying that she has a certain agenda behind the making of these videos. The problem is that neither you nor me know what it actually is, so until she explicitly comes out and says something along the lines of "Based on all these examples, I would like the videogame industry to do this and that", there is no point in arguing against it.

*meekly steps in*

Isn't that a problem then if she is making these videos and her agenda is not clear? Doesn't it indicate she isn't putting forward a strong argument?

I always felt her purpose for the videos seemed relatively clear to me, she wants to see less of her perceived sexism issues in future games and by generating interest in her videos she's creating a strong faction to argue against outstanding issues in future games and thus hopefully wield some leverage upon the game industry in the form of public opinion.

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I love playing video games but I’m regularly disappointed in the limited and limiting ways women are represented. This video project will explore, analyze and deconstruct some of the most common tropes and stereotypes of female characters in games. The series will highlight the larger recurring patterns and conventions used within the gaming industry rather than just focusing on the worst offenders. I’m going to need your help to make it happen!

As a gamer, a pop culture critic and a fan, I’m always working to balance my enjoyment of media while simultaneously being critical of problematic gender representations. With my video web series Feminist Frequency, I look at the way women are portrayed in mass media and the impact they have on our culture and society.

This is the 'mission statement' from her kickstarter. Based on this and on the first video, I would say that her primary purpose is to be informative/educational. So really, I think all that stuff about advocating censorship and the like is conjecture and maybe a small degree of persecution complex.

We can *theorize* about Anita's agenda, but I think that's sort of pointless until she explicitly states her purpose (if she ever does). I think it's important to realize that criticizing something does not equal advocating censorship. If a critic slams a movie, that doesn't mean that they want the director to be banned from creating movies. They just want to see better movies!

Edited by Tensei

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I don't understand how people are saying that criticizing something means you don't like it. That's just stupid. I love machismo action movies with big, burly bad-asses destroying everything in sight, but I'm not going to sit here and claim that they are perfect, because they're not. Actually most of the time, they lack any substance whatsoever. I'm not saying get rid of the macho action movie, but I can certainly say that the world would be a very sad place if that's the only kinds of movies everybody makes.

That's what Anita is doing with this video series. She loves Mario, she loves Zelda, she loves all of these games, but from an intellectual and emotional standpoint, these games define a females in an extremely narrow and degrading way. She doesn't want to change them or get rid of them. She just wants to point out that what they do is not the ONLY way to display femininity in a video game, because as far as some devs and publishers are concerned, that's how its always been, so why change it?

Edited by Cerrax

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Snark aside, all I have to say is that comparing what Anita is doing to advocating censorship is disingenuous. Censorship occurs when the government restricts the freedom of speech and expression of ideas...That discussion and inevitable disagreement is what will get developers thinking, paving the way for more creative characters and plotlines--be they more or less like whatever Anita envisions as a positive game character, or maybe something completely different. If anything, this is the opposite of censorship.

Anyway, that's all I had left to say. Thanks for the discussion. I'm out.

For the record, I was quite careful to make it abundantly clear that I wasn't comparing this type of analysis to advocating censorship. I went out of my way to clarify that I was comparing the reasoning & analytical style behind it - and the faults of both - to the same types of arguments we hear from the let's-ban/censor-games political cadres from time to time. If you're claiming I made a direct comparison and exiting in a sudden dearth of free time, well... okay.

This is the 'mission statement' from her kickstarter. Based on this and on the first video, I would say that her primary purpose is to be informative/educational. So really, I think all that stuff about advocating censorship and the like is conjecture and maybe a small degree of persecution complex.

We can *theorize* about Anita's agenda, but I think that's sort of pointless until she explicitly states her purpose (if she ever does). I think it's important to realize that criticizing something does not equal advocating censorship. If a critic slams a movie, that doesn't mean that they want the director to be banned from creating movies. They just want to see better movies!

Her agenda is relatively transparent when she uses phrases like "adolescent power fantasies" and "socially-constructed myth" and lumps "young straight boys & men" into the same tired "hetero while male privilege" power breakdown. I completely agree that she's not actively shoving that agenda down throats, at least in this first video, and that her ideology is tempered enough that anyone with an open mind should still be able to get something out of what she's saying. In fact, after watching it again, I appreciate more the percentage breakdown of how much time she spends showing vs. telling, and the relatively small amount of feminist criticism. And just to harken back to an earlier thread of commentary, I think the videos are relatively well-produced; any critique there is probably coming more from a place of kickstarter-enmity & funding-skepticism, which we ourselves are now somewhat familiar with.

To be concrete, let's talk about some actual quotes...

  • "tapped into adolescent power fantasies in order to sell more games to young straight boys & men"
    • Unnecessary potshot. Same old lumping. Also, if the power fantasies are there, who put them there? If they're innate, that's a hit to "social construction"...
    • Also.... the "Capitalism - deal with it" argument actually seems semi-legit here. Dear lord, someone's tapped into an aspect of human behavior to make a profit! We're all screwed now!! PATRIARCHY!

    • I'd rather adolescent power fantasies be fulfilled by video games than repressed, or manifested in reality...
    • There is also a subtle, specious implication to the phrasing: that only young straight males have adolescent power fantasies of any kind, and that the Damsel in Distress trope only appeals or taps into those specific fantasies... this may have been unintentional, but even so it's the type of collateral damage that occurs when painting in such broad strokes.

    [*]"problematic and pernicious" (X3?)

    • Just pointing out because it seemed like a mantra, and reinforces the "value judgment" aspect of what she's doing.

    [*]"larger ramifications beyond the characters themselves"

    • It's fiction. This line of thinking is fundamentally flawed and is what I've been objecting to repeatedly. We don't need fewer weak female characters because of the "larger ramifications" of how fiction MIGHT be interpreted, we need more strong female characters to better reflect social progress, and because it's simply more interesting. You end up in a similar place, but how you get there is CRITICAL.
    • Don't invoke a larger effect you haven't bothered to measure if you don't have to. It's JUST AS LAZY as employing the Damsel in Distress trope in the first place. Anyone can claim to divine the "larger ramifications" of anything - don't pin your argument on it unnecessarily!

    [*]"important & influential part of our larger social & cultural ecosystem"

    • It's also part of a healthy & nutritious breakfast!! Seriously, she's just saying words at this point. They're completely devoid of meaning other than sounding good and probably earning some head-nods and faux-gravitas points to any viewers not paying close enough attention.
    • Phrases like this are red flags to me: someone has an agenda, and they're going to use smoke & mirrors to sound convincing. That doesn't inherently mean they're wrong, or even that I don't fundamentally agree with them, it's just not meaningful analysis...

    [*]"It's a sad fact that a large percentage of the world's population still clings to the deeply sexist belief that women as a group need to be sheltered, protected, and taken care of by men."

    • Sad fact. DEEPLY sexist. So there are levels, then - which is good - and I guess ideas can be superficially sexist, moderately sexist, etc. Does believing in protecting women as a priority really deserve to be so DEEP then? And doesn't this entire statement completely ignore any evolutionary psychology or even basic game theory?
    • Large percentage... survey says.... 65%? 89%? Look, we don't know, okay? It's LARGE. And it's SAD. And it's a FACT. It's a large, sad fact. Someone please comfort it.
    • "Clings"? Really?
    • I know this is just one sentence plucked out of a larger whole, but to me it is an Atom bomb of revelation, and full context provides no real fallout shelter. Forgetting everything else for a second, if you can't see the fundamental problems with this statement as I have articulated them - and there are probably many more - then my challenge of persuasion is too great.

    [*]"Socially-constructed myth"

    • This is truly the laziest mantra of well-meaning liberals. I'm a liberal, and I often agree with the underlying points being made, but to coin a phrase... I know it when I see it... It's not that things are never socially-constructed - the concept itself does have significance. But it's as overused - again, see the pattern? - as the very trope being cited, and - again - just as lazy. It's dead-end analysis that writes off further investigation and attributes all of X or Y to -archies and -isms. It's oversimplification personified.
    • It's also completely uninformed by evolutionary psychology. Evolutionary psychology will become more and more prevalent and we will discover more and more about the human brain, and the differences between sexes. And yes, it's NO MYTH, there ARE differences. I'm sorry nature doesn't work the way you want it to work, but that's why you shouldn't try to pin your arguments on it, and dismiss everything that deviates from your vision as being "socially constructed". We should always be moving towards equality, and in this case we should analyze and attempt to improve & diversify video games in particular, not out of a belief that we have strayed from nature, but out of a conviction that we are perhaps the only species on the planet that can improve our nature by force of will. That doesn't require, nor should it involve, trying to warp the physical universe to fit your ideology.

There you go, specific examples, as requested.

If you watched her video and missed the significance of these phrases - good... you probably got a lot more value, that way. But they're nonetheless in there...

Edited by djpretzel

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We can *theorize* about Anita's agenda, but I think that's sort of pointless until she explicitly states her purpose (if she ever does).

We can *theorize* about game maker's agendas, but I think that's sort of pointless until they explicitly state their purposes (if they ever will). honestly if she's not pointing this directly at game developers, and this is just a 'general awareness' series, then it's as big a publicity stunt as a politician trying to ban violent video games. it's using the 'games are bad' demon as a way to get people listening. honestly, most anyone on this site could have probably told you all of the examples she talked about except for the castle quest one. and anyone who's been a consistent gamer could do the same. she's added nothing to the conversation other than 'and it's sexist.' and it IS. i get that it is. there's a constructive conversation to be had. but the issue at hand is not even close to the degree she's attempting to make it out to be. telling me a game from the 80's like castle quest is sexist, is that really supposed to surprise me? or be relevant to what's happening today? guess what else was sexist. THE 80'S.

also, there is nothing in her work that is as fair, balanced or objective as any documentary. that's about as congruent as saying that she talks, just like people in documentaries do.

quite frankly if your best defense is 'well nobody knows for sure what she thinks (despite overwhelmingly strong statements and implications directly at a certain point, often to the point of clear bias) so that's an unfair criticism' then there's not much left to defend. i like that this video exists, and i don't think Anita Sarkeesian needs to 'shut up and hide in a corner because nobody cares,' but she didn't do a good job, and if you're going to make these at all, much less with people's donated money, she needs to step it up, both in professionalism and in content.

*meekly steps in*

Isn't that a problem then if she is making these videos and her agenda is not clear? Doesn't it indicate she isn't putting forward a strong argument?

this man gets it. post more often please

i also happened to come across this in a comment of an article related to this, and i think it's an interesting note, if not completely relevant: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eternal_September

edit: i also saw this in the comments and this much i was *not* aware of. and if it's true makes her kind of a terrible person by using the exact thing she's speaking out against for publicity.

It’s not the amount that was raised, which is an easy distraction for anyone with no real counter-arguments. It’s the means by which she got that money, in this case, by leaving the comments section of that pitch video open, despite all the past ones being moderated, and then parading the harassment around as though it was a new thing with her. Those in the media ran the story, thinking this was terrible, and it is, and she got sympathy donations in the thousands.

She made herself into a Damsel in Distress, a trope by itself, and in response, she got far more money. That’s why many are getting angry; because they’re aware of what she did and see that the news sites who reported on this became her free advertising campaign, instead of stopping to look into what she’s made before and how the pitch video differed from her past works.

I’m certain she knew that mindset was floating around, because you don’t have to look far to find it. There’s little other reason to completely moderate every video you make unless that’s the case, or you don’t want criticism and simply want to foist your views on others. Hence why you’ll barely see any semi-moderated videos on her channel.

fucking bullshit. AND NOW I'M WATCHING THAT PITCH VIDEO AND THE FIRST THING SHE SAYS IS NOT ONLY INACCURATE BUT CLEARLY FLAMEWORTHY, WHICH SHE SHOULD KNOW SEEING AS SHE'S BEEN ON THE INTERNET FOR OVER 3 YEARS

Have you ever noticed that, with a few notable exceptions, basically all female characters in video games fall into a small handful of clichés and stereotypes?

never mind i take back what i said she should go sit in a corner somewhere. nobody needs to hear what this woman has to say. this entire thing is sleaze and manipulation to the nth degree.

Edited by The Derrit

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@ DJP I don't know if it would be beneficial to try and pick apart your analysis of the direct quotes, and I guess that I can agree that at points she starts to sound a bit buzzwordy. It might be more accurate to say that she uses a lot of rhetoric that is common in feminist discourse but might not be as well defined outside of it. For example regarding the 'adolescent male power fantasy', that's something I feel I have a decent understanding of, but at the same time I can see how out of context it can sound like a bunch of buzzwords.

We can *theorize* about game maker's agendas, but I think that's sort of pointless until they explicitly state their purposes (if they ever will).

This would almost be clever if it wasn't a complete nonsequitur. What are you even talking about here? The video and by extension this thread is about examples of the trope in videogames. Intentions and agendas of the developers behind the games are really not touched upon at all. So I really have no idea what you are getting at here.

also, there is nothing in her work that is as fair, balanced or objective as any documentary. that's about as congruent as saying that she talks, just like people in documentaries do.

Fairness and balance aren't necessarily integral parts of documentaries, as I'm sure you could find in many films made in totalitarian countries, or even in things done by people like Michael Moore.

That is not the point though, my point is that similarly to a documentary, her primary stated goal is to be informative.

quite frankly if your best defense is 'well nobody knows for sure what she thinks (despite overwhelmingly strong statements and implications directly at a certain point, often to the point of clear bias) so that's an unfair criticism' then there's not much left to defend.

That is not my defense. I am saying that you shouldn't pin things on people that haven't actually been said. If she hasn't actually openly stated her agenda, well then you can only kind of guess, right?

Edited by Tensei

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This would almost be clever if it wasn't a complete nonsequitur. What are you even talking about here? The video and by extension this thread is about examples of the trope in videogames. Intentions and agendas of the developers behind the games are really not touched upon at all. So I really have no idea what you are getting at here.

then what exactly is taking away the power of all these female characters? games don't just pop into existence. it doesn't much more than putting two and two together to figure this one out. also, if i can't critque her for her implications and editorial intent because she hasn't clearly stated *exactly what it means*, then she can do the exact same thing to games... why? seriously. saying she is immune to the same criticism she is doling out even when she is working in the same realm, media for consumption by the general public, does not make sense.

from the beginning of this thread what i have been criticizing is that her intentions were poor, as was her execution. talking past that doesn't change what i'm saying. also read my post again it got a lot bigger. i'd like to hear your thoughts on her methods.

Edited by The Derrit

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@ DJP I don't know if it would be beneficial to try and pick apart your analysis of the direct quotes, and I guess that I can agree that at points she starts to sound a bit buzzwordy. It might be more accurate to say that she uses a lot of rhetoric that is common in feminist discourse but might not be as well defined outside of it. For example regarding the 'adolescent male power fantasy', that's something I feel I have a decent understanding of, but at the same time I can see how out of context it can sound like a bunch of buzzwords.

Mmmph. You've now conveniently characterized my entire post as a misunderstanding of insider jargon. My objections - and criticisms - all spoke to substance more than style. I have pointed out how, and why, I feel that her arguments are flawed oversimplifications, and I have offered alternative means of making the same fundamental point about video games without employing such means. If that's the end of the story and there's nothing left to do but assume I didn't know what she meant because she was using secret Feminist codewords that would take too much time to explain and reconcile with my apparently inadequate understanding, I guess we're done.

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Fairness and balance aren't necessarily integral parts of documentaries, as I'm sure you could find in many films made in totalitarian countries, or even in things done by people like Michael Moore.

That is not the point though, my point is that similarly to a documentary, her primary stated goal is to be informative.

That is not my defense. I am saying that you shouldn't pin things on people that haven't actually been said. If she hasn't actually openly stated her agenda, well then you can only kind of guess, right?

Well if the purpose of a documentary is to be informative then shouldn't the information presented be balanced and fair (as in not-biased). You described documentaries from totalitarian countries, way I see it when you take the fairness and neutrality away from these and use them they simply turn into propaganda videos.

I'd say she clearly does have an agenda, or she at least has a clear objective and angle she is pushing with her videos and that a documentary above all should be fair and impartial to be informative.

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We can *theorize* about game maker's agendas, but I think that's sort of pointless until they explicitly state their purposes (if they ever will). honestly if she's not pointing this directly at game developers, and this is just a 'general awareness' series, then it's as big a publicity stunt as a politician trying to ban violent video games. it's using the 'games are bad' demon as a way to get people listening. honestly, most anyone on this site could have probably told you all of the examples she talked about except for the castle quest one. and anyone who's been a consistent gamer could do the same. she's added nothing to the conversation other than 'and it's sexist.' and it IS. i get that it is. there's a constructive conversation to be had. but the issue at hand is not even close to the degree she's attempting to make it out to be. telling me a game from the 80's like castle quest is sexist, is that really supposed to surprise me? or be relevant to what's happening today? guess what else was sexist. THE 80'S.

She's not saying "developers are bad" or "games are bad" or even implying something like that. It's exactly what it is. She *is* listing examples that any consistent gamer could come up with and pointing out where she thinks the problem lies. I think it's good if only for the amount of attention it generates because it also creates discussions, people are talking about what they think about the trope.

I also wouldn't overanalyze too much of her intentions based on just this first video and at least see how it ties into the next one. If anything, I can imagine that she will make a lot of comparisons between older and modern iterations of the trope, so for that reason it would be necessary to first have a video about the trope in older games, even if to you and me the examples might seem a bit obvious.

Mmmph. You've now conveniently characterized my entire post as a misunderstanding of insider jargon. My objections - and criticisms - all spoke to substance more than style. I have pointed out how, and why, I feel that her arguments are flawed oversimplifications, and I have offered alternative means of making the same fundamental point about video games without employing such means. If that's the end of the story and there's nothing left to do but assume I didn't know what she meant because she was using secret Feminist codewords that would take too much time to explain and reconcile with my apparently inadequate understanding, I guess we're done.

I didn't intend to be as dismissive, I just thought that it would be too much of a derail to bring up my own interpretation of each of her quotes. I think that if we're at the point where we are picking apart the etymology and exact phrasing of what are, from my perspective, reasonably well-defined concepts such as the male power fantasy, it might be time to take a step back.

Edited by Tensei

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You're the one bringing it up. Again, the video is looking at examples of the trope and why Anita considers it problematic, the developers intentions are barely mentioned.

"tapped into adolescent power fantasies in order to sell more games to young straight boys & men"

"tapped into" & "in order to" = pretty darn close to a statement of perceived intent, wouldn't you say? So many ways to phrase the sentiment... just bad writing, then?

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You're the one bringing it up. Again, the video is looking at examples of the trope and why Anita considers it problematic, the developers intentions are barely mentioned.

i'm bringing it up because it's PART OF THE CONVERSATION.

NOTABLY THE PART YOU DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT.

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i'm bringing it up because it's PART OF THE CONVERSATION.

NOTABLY THE PART YOU DON'T WANT TO TALK ABOUT.

But you just said it yourself when you reversed my quote about theorizing about Anita's agenda to be about game developers. I don't see the merit in talking about intentions, because you can't come up with a conclusive answer anyway unless you can somehow contact every game developer and ask them what they were thinking when they wrote their plot.

then what exactly is taking away the power of all these female characters? games don't just pop into existence. it doesn't much more than putting two and two together to figure this one out. also, if i can't critque her for her implications and editorial intent because she hasn't clearly stated *exactly what it means*, then she can do the exact same thing to games... why? seriously. saying she is immune to the same criticism she is doling out even when she is working in the same realm, media for consumption by the general public, does not make sense.

But she isn't doing this. Where is she doing this? You're implying that at some point in the video she says something along the lines of "Game developers put this trope in because they're all sexist pigs."

I don't know how to make this any clearer. She never delves into the game developers intentions, and certainly makes no definite statement about them.

"tapped into adolescent power fantasies in order to sell more games to young straight boys & men"

"tapped into" & "in order to" = pretty darn close to a statement of perceived intent, wouldn't you say? So many ways to phrase the sentiment... just bad writing, then?

I don't think so. Male power fantasies can be (and probably usually are) created without even being aware that they are a thing. Granted, 'in order to sell more games' is a pretty obvious statement of intent, but not a particularly farfetched one, so I'll give you that.

Edited by Tensei

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Hmmm...

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jimquisition/7044-The-Creepy-Cull-of-Female-Protagonists

I personally adore Jim's 'aggressive and confrontational' takes on subjects, playing devils advocate at times and making sweeping generalisations. Yet even when I violently disagree with him I always admit he has a point. :tomatoface:

His video's to a different audience, admittedly, but comparisons between his argument in 1 video compared to her part 1 of 12, I know which one's had a bigger impact on me.

EDIT: Admittedly he tackles a fundamentally different topic with regards to the role of females in gaming.

Which perhaps highlights the big problem with Anita's video. Because she has a series of 12 she's chosen to start with a historical basis, telling us things that have been out of date for 5 or more years if not longer. 'Presumably' she'll get to the more important modern, relevant issues to gaming in future videos but that is assuming a lot. Right now we just have to wait and see.

And bicker relentlessly about it, of course :P

EDIT 2:

A good response from KiteTales towards Anita, I think.

Is it wrong that her response fills me with a desire to argue every third sentence she says... ... Seriously, I disagree with SO MUCH that she says. :| Every thirty seconds I have to go 'Hang on, your wrong, you're SOOOOO wrong.' Arguing that there is more to the characters than the trope does not deny the existence of the trope. Arguing that the reason Mario is saving Peach is not to benefit his character arc, but 'for the continued peace in the kingdom' which IS integral to Mario's character arc. In terms of Agency to the plot the 'role' of Princesses Zelda and Peach may be important in a 'larger arc' and 'world building' sense but they don't matter to the plot. In terms of their role within the story if they are a damsel in distress and it becomes the 'duty' of the hero to save them, then that is their defined role in that point of time. Everything around that point is background material.

To be honest I didn't find Anita's video biased at all. It's an examination of a topic, designed to flesh out one instance.

Extreme extrapolation but I don't expect documentaries on a group of scientists who are landing a shuttle on Mars to cut back to a conspiracy theorist going; "THE MOON LANDING WAS ALL A HOAX" just for balance. That's not balance, it's stupid.

Edited by Swifthom

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A good response from KiteTales towards Anita, I think.

The video spends its time dissecting the specific examples of Zelda and Peach rather than addressing the topic in general. Even if you successfully argue that neither Peach nor Zelda are sexist, you haven't really touched on the greater Damsel in Distress trope as a whole. Anita herself admitted that not every use of the damsel in distress is necessarily sexist (even if she did so in a sort of cursory way, in the last 30 seconds of a 20 minute video).

Honestly, I'm not sure how you respond to Anita's video, seeing as she didn't seem to be putting forward an argument of any kind beyond "the use of the damsel in distress trope in video games is sometimes sexist", which I'm not really sure you can argue against. She doesn't try to use this to say that video games a a whole are sexist, or that game developers are sexist, or anything like that. She also never suggests anything that can or should be done about this, which I find sort of annoying, but it's not my video.

To be honest I didn't find Anita's video biased at all. It's an examination of a topic, designed to flesh out one instance.

It very clearly starts from the position of "sexism in video games exists and is bad" (or at least "existed and was bad", given that she doesn't cover anything modern in her first video). No arguments on either count, but I don't really consider that informative or useful. She doesn't make much of an argument that would convince anyone skeptical of her position, and she doesn't really do any sort of analysis on the subject of sexism has changed over the early years of video gaming or how we got to this point in the first place. Honestly, the whole video boils down to "here's a bunch of examples of damsels in distress from video games, which you can see as sexist if you want to". (Not arguing that they aren't sexist, but she doesn't do much arguing that they are, either.)

Anyway, that's what people mean when they say she's biased. Instead of starting from a neutral position and presenting evidence to support a particular conclusion, she starts from a specific position and the video proceeds on the assumption that people already accept that position.

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But you just said it yourself when you reversed my quote about theorizing about Anita's agenda to be about game developers. I don't see the merit in talking about intentions, because you can't come up with a conclusive answer anyway unless you can somehow contact every game developer and ask them what they were thinking when they wrote their plot.

i reversed your quote because it was stupid and i was mocking you. neither are logical arguments, you can criticize whatever you want, games and this video are both public domain. i'm pointing out that if my line of criticism isn't logical (as you're saying it's not) then hers is no better. because it's doing the exact same thing.

also, if you 'don't think so,' then we're done here. if you don't think her saying games use male power fantasies as a tool to sell more games isn't intent then you're just simply not paying attention, or hearing what you want to hear.

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Hmmm...

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jimquisition/7044-The-Creepy-Cull-of-Female-Protagonists

I personally adore Jim's 'aggressive and confrontational' takes on subjects, playing devils advocate at times and making sweeping generalisations. Yet even when I violently disagree with him I always admit he has a point.

I've never been a fan of the Jimquisition, but I need to give props for that video. He really nailed it. Jim's video may have a strong effect, but that's because he's a fairly outspoken person with a very solid background in video game journalism and generally well known sensibilities as far as what he considers a good game. I think Anita is fairly unknown and "unproven" as a gamer and game critic, so her stance on video games is more easily dismissed. Jim's video is very compact and incendiary, which depends on the audience appreciating his sense of humor and delivery and the audience having a strong knowledge of the subject.

As it was mentioned before, Anita's video series is more academic in nature, and certainly requires a lot less knowledge about video games to convey her message, which may reduce its effectiveness if you already see most of these problems.

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Hmmm...

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/jimquisition/7044-The-Creepy-Cull-of-Female-Protagonists

I personally adore Jim's 'aggressive and confrontational' takes on subjects, playing devils advocate at times and making sweeping generalisations. Yet even when I violently disagree with him I always admit he has a point.

I appreciate this Jimquisition video because it actually goes through the effort to assert that this treatment of women is a norm, and that this norm is harmful. Having to battle with publishers over the role of your game's character *based specifically on their gender* is strong evidence that some sort of gender discrimination is going on. Now, not all gender discrimination is harmful -- I don't think a gynecologist should have to see both males & females, for example. But when Jim shows that a leading or co-leading female character either gets relegated to the back-of-the-box *because of what the publisher sees as gaming norms*, or that the developer must raise hell to see them put in their deserved prominent position, it's a lot easier to conclude that this is a harmful discrimination.

Additionally, I appreciate Jim's reflections on the complexity of the problem: is it chicken or egg? Are the publishers too sensitive to perceived preference, or are these actual community preferences? Where exactly is the blame to be placed: with the makers, the marketers, the gamers, or a combination of all three?

Anita's video on the other hand seems to skip over all these subtleties and launches straight for a "harmful & pernicious" bashing of a single trope which she does not satisfactorily establish as a norm. There are no useful statistics given about how many games feature this damsel in distress. Nor, in her videos, does she give strong evidence that female characters have been forced into this role as a matter of norms. We are given the Krystal in Star Fox Adventures example. But Anita merely states that she does become a damsel in distress, nowhere stating that Krystal was forced to conform to it as a norm. And this single data point cannot be extrapolated to a trend. Mentioning several other games does not make it a trend either, as how many thousands of games have been released since the Atari? I have to bring in my PERSONAL experience, psychologically biased memory, to surmise that yes this probably is an overused trope. I'm not saying that damsel in distress isn't a trend -- but merely that Anita never adequately demonstrates it's symptomatic.

We never even get to hear if the damsel is used in the majority of games which feature a female. Just stating this one statistic -- the percentage of female-featuring games which use one as a rescue trophy -- could make or break the argument. If it's a low percentage, then it's difficult to attack this trope unless you wish to ban telling those kinds of events altogether, but if it's the majority, we can definitely see the need to reflect on game industry practices and make more frequent use of other story types. But when we don't hear any such decisive statistic, instead a long string of anecdotal examples or just straight up logical leaps, jumping right into the trope's harm feels like quite an overreach. Overall, I think we should expect better reasoning from Anita, even if these videos weren't as heavily funded.

Again, I'm not saying that games -- and probably all media -- don't have harmful stereotypes regarding women. The ease alone of writing stereotypical roles makes that absurdly unlikely. I just wish Anita would give a better argument than she does, instead of leaning so heavily on the "female stereotypes = bad" attitude prevalent in modern Western culture. In addition, I'd really love to see someone explore the harmful male stereotypes in media. Male, female, or other, we're all in this life thing together and I really hate to hear one gender attack another, no matter what for.

Edited by Moguta

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Good post, Moguta. Just wanted to reply to let you know someone read & appreciated it!

I think ultimately that it's a good thing someone's doing this in a high-profile manner, and that it's generating discussion, and from that perspective, I can't fault it one bit. The brand of feminism being varnished at times in the first video is a superficial, textbook variety that doesn't have a lot of depth and deals more in slogans than analysis, and it doesn't bode well for future videos, but as mentioned, it's not super-mega-blatant or over-the-top obnoxious. I primarily wanted to make the point that there are multiple schools of feminism out there, and some of them are a lot more analytical & pragmatic, as opposed to the "OMG BOOBS OBJECTIFICATION PATRIARCHY!" knee-jerk dial-a-mantra crowd. I wish we were getting analysis of a higher quality, from a different echelon of feminism, but perhaps something is better than nothing.

Edited by djpretzel

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i haven't watched that Jim video yet but when I get home I look forward to seeing it.

Unrelated note I'm back in the states! Bagels and cream cheese....

Homer-Simpson-Drooling-while-Sleeping.gif

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