Brandon Strader

Tropes vs. Women / #GamerGate Conspiracies

2,105 posts in this topic

Viewed out of context, you can claim almost anything is any -ism you want. It's very important to view, if not the whole picture, then a large majority of it. You don't get to claim X is sexist, and then pretend that X exists in a vacuum. As djp mentioned, if the game is purposely and clearly mocking the archaic, or even a parody of itself, not only would that cast considerable doubt on "this is sexist", but pressing further into the game, something which, with increasing frequency, Anita does not appear to have done, could show that not only were they aware of the trope and it's implications, but they end up turning it on it's head, or at the very least, smile and nod and say "This is bad, and we do not support it."

i think Fat Princess is a really good example of this. It's capture the flag with princesses, and as a mechanic you feed your princess to make her harder to transport. It's really easy to be like 'why damsel in distress OMG sexist' but when you look at it objectively, what's the point of it? it's a game mechanic based on the simple idea of 'hey princesses always get captured in video games, isn't that funny. and wouldn't it be funnier if you could make them fat so they were hard to capture?' when you look at the overall picture, they could be capturing rubber band balls, it really doesn't matter, but the idea of a princess getting fattened up fits the core mechanic. the fact that it's a princess has literally no purpose in the game other than to justify a core game mechanic.

But it would be really easy for a sarkeesian-esque person to say, "in Fat Princess, the entire point of the game is to capture a helpless princess, who the sexist game designers also made fat. This is troubling and pernicious." But if you actually play the game, you realize in about 5 seconds fat that the princess bit is a means to an end, and you don't ever think about the fact that it's disempowering women at any point while you're playing it. Which is why it's important to actually play the games you critique, which frankly should be obvious to begin with.

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This doesn't make complete sense to me... you're saying that because what she's using itself isn't her argument, it's not dishonest to use it, without citation or accreditation? Even if the work involved on the part of those who recorded it was nominal, I still think it should be acknowledged. I don't think it's dishonest per se, probably just absent-minded (i.e. an honest mistake), but you seem to be saying she (and anyone else) should have a free pass to do this whenever they want, without any form of credit? In academia, it's more or less de rigueur to credit exhaustively, and when money's involved, all the moreso...

Sure, I agree she acknowledge the people that recorded the videos, and/or talk to them beforehand, even if it isn't a legal requirement. But even if she didn't, it doesn't qualify as plagiarism or dishonesty.. more on that in a bit.

I think it certainly CAN be; I'd hate to commit to a definition that completely prohibits this possibility. In all of the cases in her videos, however, I'd agree that it doesn't appear to be unique enough to categorize it as such. However, I'd tend to err on the side of assuming that game footage IS an idea or thought in terms of how I would handle permission & credit, because otherwise you end up inadvertently compromising the art form, in a sense...

Yeah again in terms of permission & credit, that's certainly preferable.

Largely agreed, but what about whether she's played the games? Also optional? Additionally, while I don't think it "matters" much, I do think it would be slightly preferable had she recorded it herself, so I guess it does matter an eensy-teensy bit to me... not a lot, but not nothing. If you believe that "field research" has added value, insofar as it forces the researcher to actually immerse themselves in their subject, then I think you'd probably agree?

Sure. I can see Bleck's point that one COULD critique a game without playing it, i.e. by watching someone else play it. Most of us could watch any game for 30 minutes and come up with a pretty detailed opinion. But I agree that in this case at least, she has given people the impression that she bought games and would be playing them for research. I would thus have expected her to have played the games. So, I'm with you on that.

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Hey, you should work for Nintendo :)

Ouch, man, right in the heart you strike.

I don't know what your standard of "virtually no" is, here - I agree that most games limit the number of options/variables such that any given player's experience is similar, HOWEVER part of what (I think/hope) we love about video games is that we DO interact, we CAN express some aspect of who we are through how we play, and the experience does feel like it's "ours"... while I'm not sure this should grant any given play-through video creator a sense of supreme creation or entitlement, I'd be reluctant to say it's entirely devoid of their input in any significant sense, and also reluctant to say that it can and should be cribbed from without any attempts at crediting/permission...

I'm saying she's posting standard methods of playing through a game - nothing spectacular or special. If there was something special about the videos that she were posting (speedruns, glitching/hacking, mods, creations in a game, etc. - something to make it stand out from normal play) then I'd say she really would need to give credit where it was due, but just playing a game, or even just showing cutscenes from another video... No, that's not 'creative input', that's playing through the design of the game.

I think you're hanging a little too much on the romantic notion of 'creative input' - not every little thing that we do on video games should be seen as creative, else we hang ourselves up on minute details like this. I love Megaman 3, but I don't consider myself an artist for moving him forward and jumping - at best, I see myself as solving a problem that the designers provided for me. That's not very creative, in my book.

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As an academic who presents academic work on video games, I can tell you what is and is not considered acceptable on this: First, you don't have to play everything -- let's get that out of the way right now.

That being said, you are expected to know a great deal about your material -- if you want to be an "expert" then you'd better possess "expertise" on the subject at hand! For instance, while pulling the videos from other sources is acceptable, not understanding that Zelda fights alongside Link against Ganondorf in Twilight Princess as well as Ocarina of Time demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the subject material -- it's not as if this is a specialized piece of trivia either! If you want to be an "expert", then you should know the basic walkthrough of your game and how all the boss fights work. See http://bardicknowledge.blogspot.com/ for a similar argument about Anita cherry-picking an examples without placing it in context vis a vis Final Fantasy I.

In any case, the biggest problem here is not that she did not play through all of the games to generate her video resources, but that she does not admit to it! Citing your sources is standard procedure in academia, and anything less that full citations is unacceptable in print. Now, do I think her video needs to meet the same requirements as academic print research to make a valid point? No. Using this point as a means by which to avoid addressing the content of her argument is both immature and foolish. However, if she wants to present this as academic research and not a hobby, she needs to put in an amount of work commensurate with an academic article.

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in essence while I believe that there are probably better people out there that could be speaking about this very real issue than anita sarkeesian, I think that it's better that we have her and her videos than to go on pretending like this shit ain't a problem

This times ten. There probably are people better-suited to do a documentary on this subject, or a web series, or what have you...but what we got was Anita. At least she's trying, even if she's trying with personal opinions stated as fact. She's trying to draw attention to a problem, and while she isn't providing solutions at least she's getting people to discuss and think about it. The only problem here is that a lot of the discussions I've seen here and elsewhere about her videos have little to do with the actual subject matter and include:

1. Her appearance in the videos.

2. Where she gets her material from.

3. Whether she actually plays games or not (which why would she want to make a series if she didn't).

4. The amount of money she recieved in the kickstarter.

5. The rate at which she releases videos.

6. The fact that she disables all comments.

How are these things relevant to the actual subject matter that she's trying to draw attention to? How is her set of hoop earrings relevant to the fact that the damsel in distress trope is lazy writing? I think that she's telling the story with a bit of spin, and I think that she probably could have done a better job than telling us the same things we've been told for the past ten years about the gaming industry's sexism, but the fact that she's doing something is better than doing nothing. It's too bad that she kind of sucks at it, yeah...but it's a start. There needs to be more journalism and activism to promote both gender and racial equality in games. Here's hoping she's started the ball rolling.

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it's not as if this is a specialized piece of trivia either! If you want to be an "expert", then you should know the basic walkthrough of your game and how all the boss fights work...

In any case, the biggest problem here is not that she did not play through all of the games to generate her video resources, but that she does not admit to it!

Both interesting points. As far as trivia goes, I didn't realize she got that many things wrong - I certainly didn't catch it myself, and I just kind of assumed that more people would be focusing on this and be making a bigger deal about it if it was so... dire. I was under the impression everyone just accepted these trivial items were SO trivial that even if she got them wrong, it didn't really weaken her argument, as most people would get them wrong. But I take it the items in question are more basic, or could have been VERY easily researched?

As for not admitting to it, that's interesting too... I hadn't thought of that; are the videos presented in such a way as to explicitly suggest she was the one playing the games, though? I don't think so, not particularly... IIRC she doesn't use first person language or talk about HER experience playing the games, right? Has anyone checked?

However, you're saying the onus was on her to be forthcoming about this information, even in the absence of reason to think it would be necessary? Am I getting that right, or no? It's a peculiar point, if so... I guess it mostly hinges on the "context" - whether it's academic/formal in nature and should play by those rules, in which case she should have mentioned it, or if it's intended more as "color commentary" or rhetoric... perhaps part of the overall confusion here is that it doesn't fall squarely into either category - that might be what's causing a lot of the misunderstanding.

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This times ten. There probably are people better-suited to do a documentary on this subject, or a web series, or what have you...but what we got was Anita. At least she's trying, even if she's trying with personal opinions stated as fact. She's trying to draw attention to a problem, and while she isn't providing solutions at least she's getting people to discuss and think about it.

I'd like to agree with this... I'd genuinely like to persuade myself of it. But here's where I keep getting stuck:

To me, the problem is how she's defining... the problem.

I think defining the problem as:

"A shortage of creativity and inspiration in more than a couple different areas of game design and game narratives"

...is a fantastic starting point to productive discussions about more variety and authenticity for female characters, among many other topics like getting away from generic male protagonists who seem like cookie-cutter clones and all have the same values. If you want to focus on JUST female characters, I think that's fantastic too, but it should be focused on within the framework of myriad other aspects of tired & outdated cliches, not quarantined as evidence of men's worldwide and age-old conspiracy to subjugate women, etc., etc.

Thus, I alternatively think defining the problem as:

"A corrupting, pernicious effect of patriarchal attitudes of protectiveness towards and oversexualization of females in video games"

... makes no sense whatsoever. If you're defining the problem incorrectly or inaccurately, I think it becomes possible to do more harm than good at worst, and at best it will be a less-informed, more-polarizing, and ineffective approach to solving the same problem that can be argued passionately, persuasively, and with ample, near-incontrovertible evidence, in a broader sense, as it applies to improving the art form.

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Both interesting points. As far as trivia goes, I didn't realize she got that many things wrong - I certainly didn't catch it myself, and I just kind of assumed that more people would be focusing on this and be making a bigger deal about it if it was so... dire. I was under the impression everyone just accepted these trivial items were SO trivial that even if she got them wrong, it didn't really weaken her argument, as most people would get them wrong. But I take it the items in question are more basic, or could have been VERY easily researched?

Her Borderlands 2 assessment was so far off it's laughable, and not even because she uses the word "murder" to describe "assisted euthanasia."

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Both interesting points. As far as trivia goes, I didn't realize she got that many things wrong - I certainly didn't catch it myself, and I just kind of assumed that more people would be focusing on this and be making a bigger deal about it if it was so... dire. I was under the impression everyone just accepted these trivial items were SO trivial that even if she got them wrong, it didn't really weaken her argument, as most people would get them wrong. But I take it the items in question are more basic, or could have been VERY easily researched?

As for not admitting to it, that's interesting too... I hadn't thought of that; are the videos presented in such a way as to explicitly suggest she was the one playing the games, though? I don't think so, not particularly... IIRC she doesn't use first person language or talk about HER experience playing the games, right? Has anyone checked?

However, you're saying the onus was on her to be forthcoming about this information, even in the absence of reason to think it would be necessary? Am I getting that right, or no? It's a peculiar point, if so... I guess it mostly hinges on the "context" - whether it's academic/formal in nature and should play by those rules, in which case she should have mentioned it, or if it's intended more as "color commentary" or rhetoric... perhaps part of the overall confusion here is that it doesn't fall squarely into either category - that might be what's causing a lot of the misunderstanding.

I'm saying that in academia, she would be required to cite her sources for the videos. Not doing so is plagarism and demonstrates a lack of vigor in research. As far as communicating her point effectively in a YouTube video, not playing the games doesn't hurt her point at all. The more important issue is below...

Her Borderlands 2 assessment was so far off it's laughable, and not even because she uses the word "murder" to describe "assisted euthanasia."

This type of error of omission is the real problem with her video. Cherry picking a moment out of Borderlands 2 without giving any context to it at all only serves to weaken her argument -- as I linked previously, she did the same with FF1 and the rescue of Princess Sara (in the opening 10 minutes), which is only in place as a means by which to critique damsel plots! "Our game is about a hell of a lot more than saving a damsel in distress -- what now, Dragon Warrior?" Just like BL2, this example hurts her point much more than helps it since the context is not really implementing the damsel trope in the way she claims it is.

TL:DR; Saying that the situation in Super Mario Bros., Double Dragon, or Ghouls and Ghosts is the same as the more complex cases in Final Fantasy or Borderlands 2 feels lazy at best, and IMO severely weakens her overall argument.

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What would you say her argument IS? I agree that simple identification of the trope does not suffer from the video being secondhand, but if she's never played the games, how can she contextualize the trope enough to go one step further and contribute meaningful analysis?

I don't think she is contributing any meaningful analysis. Her argument boils down to "games are sexist and that's bad". It's neither particularly convincing (certainly some games are sexist, but so are some books, some movies, etc, and she makes no argument to extend her specific examples to the medium as a whole) nor particularly helpful (even if we accept her point... well, what then? She gives us no answer).

But seriously, in 2-3 sentences, explain what you think her argument is, and how playing the games - experiencing them as they were intended to be consumed - has a zero net effect on the points she's making

Well, I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt that she's actually played the games in question, or at least done close-enough research on them (ie, done enough to put the scenes she's calling out into context). Given recent posts, it seems that that's not actually the case at least for some games, but assuming it had been, I don't see the problems with, in effect, using stock footage (I've already said that using other people's footage without crediting them is a dick move, but I don't see anything about her specifically capturing her own footage that makes a difference to her point one way or another).

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I don't think she is contributing any meaningful analysis. Her argument boils down to "games are sexist and that's bad". It's neither particularly convincing (certainly some games are sexist, but so are some books, some movies, etc, and she makes no argument to extend her specific examples to the medium as a whole) nor particularly helpful (even if we accept her point... well, what then? She gives us no answer).

Cool, thanks for clarification. Sounds like we just basically... agree!

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So, to the people who are talking about a "very real issue" (not just Bleck), how would you define the problem?

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So, to the people who are talking about a "very real issue" (not just Bleck), how would you define the problem?

Lack of creative writers. Producers that want a safe bet. And children who want that safe bet.

So the same problem as the movie industry really.

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That being said, you are expected to know a great deal about your material -- if you want to be an "expert" then you'd better possess "expertise" on the subject at hand! For instance, while pulling the videos from other sources is acceptable, not understanding that Zelda fights alongside Link against Ganondorf in Twilight Princess as well as Ocarina of Time demonstrates a lack of knowledge about the subject material -- it's not as if this is a specialized piece of trivia either! If you want to be an "expert", then you should know the basic walkthrough of your game and how all the boss fights work. See http://bardicknowledge.blogspot.com/ for a similar argument about Anita cherry-picking an examples without placing it in context vis a vis Final Fantasy I.

my favorite part of her videos so far is the two sentence blurb where she says 'in most games, there is "context" used to "explain away" these acts of violence.' as if the context was completely irrelevant because something bad happened to a woman.

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my favorite part of her videos so far is the two sentence blurb where she says 'in most games, there is "context" used to "explain away" these acts of violence.' as if the context was completely irrelevant because something bad happened to a woman.

Yeah, Heaven forbid there's an actual reason as to why these female characters are in the conundrums they find themselves in. Unless it's objectification within objectification!

I mean to be totally honest, half the time I find most female characters I either play as or see in game as relatively competent(sometimes even more so than the men), caring, strong women; or tragic, or just sultry, boisterous, sexually-confident, etc. characters. Sure they sometimes might be scantly clad or showin' quite a bit of curves, but for fucks sake, how many girls today aren't flaunting their curves or trying desperately to be more attractive for whatever the reason? If you're bold enough to deny the previous, then you're either lying or have been living under a rock. Of course you can argue that "it isn't for you" or some such other nonsense, but let's be real; we WANT other people to find us attractive in some fashion or form. Yet for some reason, we can't just admit to that fact because it makes us look "selfish" or "arrogant/full of ourselves"/etc.

If anything, video game narratives have been a huge force in telling me that women(and indeed people) can be so much more than we might see in our normal routine and should be valued highly, and THAT'S why context is so important.

I'll just reiterate stuff I've mentioned previously: as an ideal, I absolutely agree with the idea that the gaming industry(and society in general) needs to really evaluate certain "problematic" aspects such as comic book maturity(but maybe it doesn't? Creative license and all that), but I want solutions that are all-inclusive and not over-antagonizing/stigmatizing against any one person or group. I.E, I really don't think Sarkeesian is the one we should be listening to.

It's like Garnet Lee versus Jeff Cannata on Weekend Confirmed. Cannata while well-meaning, has a habit of getting overly passionate when speaking out against certain remarks on the episode discussions(which to be fair can be pretty snarky on occasion), which only serves to ignite an even larger fire, whereas Lee has a little more bedside, and can really control and tone down a discussion where all parties' discussions are analyzed and dealt with in a positive fashion.

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so her point throughout the first half of the video has been "when the person in peril isn't female, it doesn't matter because it's just a dude. but if it's a girl, it's sexist and bad."

also her comment around 6:30 is the biggest pot shot i've ever heard, despite the fact it's actually proving how little it matters.

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Her point was that all things being equal, a man saving a woman and a woman saving a man would be no different. But one of those reinforces a cultural stereotype and the other doesn't. Anita's point is that the context matters. For example, look at the Italian prime minister, a black woman who at a recent conference had bananas thrown at her. This was obviously a racial jab and many people obviously found it extremely racist and offensive. If people were throwing bananas at a white person instead, because there is no cultural stereotype of white people being or looking like monkeys, it wouldn't be nearly as offensive.

Or the more obvious example, the use of the "n-word" ranges from outrageously racist to acceptable depending on whom is talking to whom. Same exact word, so in theory it should mean the same thing, but in reality it obviously doesn't due to cultural context.

Honestly I think a lot of the critics here should find the conclusions of the video agreeable. It's OK if women need rescuing sometimes, or if they lose control, or get hurt, or whatever. She's just suggesting that there are many creative ways to incorporate these things into a plot or setup that twists or subverts the trope, rather than lazily re-using it or simply swapping genders. Even looking to simple retro-style games, she points out some excellent and critically-praised games like Fez that evoke nostalgia without using the trope. It's simply not necessary anymore.

Edited by zircon

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Even looking to simple retro-style games, she points out some excellent and critically-praised games like Fez that evoke nostalgia without using the trope. It's simply not necessary anymore.

That's not how tropes work. They aren't agents of necessity. Art does not require them, or not require them. They are merely patterns that emerge, recede, and then sometimes re-emerge, surrounding the creation of fictional universes. That's also not (thank goodness) how art works... you can't pick a single pattern or component and conclusively say that it is no longer "necessary" to the art form. I mean, you CAN... if you want to, but we've got a smiley for that:

:banghead::banghead::banghead::banghead::banghead:

I think Anita would actually agree, strongly, that the trope was NEVER "necessary", or potentially even considered necessary by those employing it. She'd say it was a "manifestation of patriarchal male blah-blah-blah". Replace "blah-blah-blah" with the devout, unquestioning ideology of your choice. I personally think that men being overprotective towards women is a consequence of our evolutionary psychology, and the downsides are often balanced by upsides - legitimate physical protection of someone you love. As a society and a civilization, the more we realize and accept that you CAN take the good without the bad - that is, the more we learn to overcome any inherent feelings of protectiveness in contexts where they do not make sense - the better. I believe that art is not universally such a context, because part of its purpose is to express what we feel inside, independent of what we might strive for: unfiltered. Part of its purpose is to show us what can be wrong, or at least less ideal, about how we feel and who we are. I believe that art plays a lot of other roles as well, and can also serve - as you would seem to have it serve EXCLUSIVELY - as a role model. But I reject your apparent position, and Anita's apparent position, that art needs to be confined to this role, I disagree about some of the root causes of sexist attitudes, and I certainly disagree that tropes are a matter of necessity. This is yet another false Boolean.

Pretty much.

Her point was that all things being equal, a man saving a woman and a woman saving a man would be no different. But one of those reinforces a cultural stereotype and the other doesn't.

You do know that many stereotypes are based on direct observation, and that something being a stereotype doesn't preclude it from trending to be accurate, right?

Adult men are more likely to have a stronger, biologically-rooted desire to protect women than vice versa. That's my perception - do you concur? It's not a stereotype of women being weak, per se, it's more an understanding that the male of the species has a strong protection instinct, which makes complete evolutionary sense and would be selected for. Women have a similarly strong desire to protect their offspring, and it's important - I can't stress this enough - to fully comprehend that these are just probabilities and not absolutes.

When you characterize men being overprotective towards women as being a purely cultural stereotype, i.e. arbitrary, I think you miss half the equation - if not more. The role of culture should ideally be not to show men that women should NOT be protected from threats, or rescued from peril, but rather that they do not always NEED to be, and furthermore, that extending this sense of protection into realms where it no longer applies - like science, math, military, government, etc. - is irrational AND plain old inefficient, on TOP of being bigoted and sexist!

Understanding the nature of the issue and appreciating its complexity helps form a stronger argument and response. Assuming that culture just dictates everything and that all stereotypes are irrational is a perspective that has been increasingly invalidated in the 20th and 21st centuries. This isn't using biology or evolution as an EXCUSE, it's using it as a starting point for true comprehension, rather than lazily empowering the vague cloud of "culture" as being responsible for everything. I vastly prefer a liberal ideology that embraces science and reality rather than running & hiding from it; that's usually the other guys' shtick...

Edited by djpretzel

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I think part of my problem with her arguments is that she assumes too many things about both the creators and the content without contextualizing it. She makes good points, but her argument consistently boomerangs back to "these creators know they're doing wrong and they're doing it anyways, shame on them." This happens as she presents developers who offer options for gender customization, developers who make tributes to an era gone by, and developers who parody the trope. Her choice of words and phrases, things like "attempt to get away with," "does not excuse," and "free pass to continue exploiting" don't present the argument that developers are thinking about the trope, but instead are a conniving bunch of presumably males forever attempting to circumvent a sense of social responsibility. One of the weakest arguments that can be made is attempting to argue the intent of a creator, but she relies on that heavily to make her point. Even if some cases of this may be true where sexism is both intentional and exists as a an attempt to excuse it within the culture, others do not. The same with this trope being used as humor. It's a pointless dead end that detracts from her point instead of reinforcing anything meaningful, and it undercuts the integrity of her argument pretty badly.

It begs the argument of whether her problem really lies with damseling, or with the idea of a kidnapping as a whole. In a way, the latter seems to be her overarching point, and it's not a very strong one. Kidnapping, by definition, disempowers the kidnapped, with options for regaining the empowerment ranging from the rescuer to the self-empowered escapee. It would have been more fitting for her to have left it at the unbalanced percentages of women in the kidnapped role instead of men. She loses her point and her edge in the discussion, at least for me, at about the moment she points out that reversing the genders changes little, again without acknowledging the context of the creators for doing so. I know at least one of those mods was created as a tool of gender empowerment by a father for his daughter. If that's not a subversion and change to the trope, then what is good enough at that point?

I get her point that Spelunky changes little by offering a male damsel instead of a female as an option, in regards to reinforcing a negative stereotype versus not doing so with the male, but it comes at the expense of her larger point that developers and creators aren't doing enough to challenge or change it. Spelunky's option is, given it's offering, at least an acknowledgement that more is at play than just the damsel in distress, offering an awareness of the hand-in-hand sexualization via the empowering smooch. I've never played the game, but I wonder what might have changed if the character were a friendly NPC, some acquaintance of the hero who offered the life-up as a reward upon their rescue. I figured when I first saw the dog, that might have been an option. I guess I really can't comment further without understanding what the others options change (does having the male character make the hero gay? Does the dog also offer a smooch?) Context, again, is needed to judge whether the mechanic in place is sexist for the sake of playing along (For instance, is the male "damsel" a gay man by virtue of the bow on his neck and the thong he's wearing?), or if the additional choices were a way of changing the trope for a different reason (Something that is more powerful than copy-pasting the trope in with no alterations).

Perhaps where she finally loses me is at the 12 minute mark where she points out that in order for ironic humor to work, the assumption has to be that what is being played for a joke has no relevance or power, which is flat out fallacious. If that were the case, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert would be out of a job. This is the point in which she begins to argumentatively hammer tent pegs into the ground and blanket the whole area. She ditches contextualization by essentially making the claim that there really isn't any humor at all that may be used to challenge or change this trope, failing to mention that some of the games she picked, like Rochard, Earthworm Jim, DLC Quest, and even arguably Castle Crashers, are parodies of genre and time, mocking everything rather than specifics. It doesn't grant them the "free pass" she's assuming the creators were gunning for in order to avoid critique (Which is a very large assumption on her part about their intent), but the lack of contextual acknowledgement hurts her case. And although she brings up some games that promote conversation, a larger list or more in depth discussion of the games that do that would have greatly helped reinforce her position. I wouldn't go so far as to say she's purposefully cherry-picking, but her arguments do seem to tend towards very focused, narrow points that assume broader context merely backs them as she goes.

Speaking of cherry picking, she picked Eversion as a reference for humor towards the trope, but failed to mention that the good ending is the reveal that it wasn't a joke at all, but a hint at what the good ending was to contain. If she was a looking for a game that subverted the trope, she might have done well to investigate the whole game given that (spoilers) the hero in end is a monster who is trying to return to his own monstrous world, where his assumed love interest resides.

In one of those rare instances where Bleck has chosen to throw out more than a deconstructive one-liner and put his reasoning on full display, I do agree with him that it's a good thing she's out there making videos to promote conversation. But I'm disappointed with the arguments she's making and the lack of context and even depth disguised by a march of talking points and narrow looks at the medium. It doesn't feel like she's making these points as a means to enable active change. Rather, her whole argument is presented as a passive blanket indictment of videogaming as a whole to see what sticks and what doesn't, enabled by a few powerful examples in her favor (some with and some without context.) It rings hollow for her to claim to wish to see this trope subverted, challenged, or changed when she dismisses some of the efforts made, especially any and all humorous ones, and fails to look in-depth at other games which do go all of those routes.

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I'm glad she started pointing out video games she appreciated for their lack of gender stereotypes. Besides Beyond Good and Evil, however, I couldn't help noticing how many of those games featured characters with no gender or ambiguous gender.

Honestly, I have to agree with a number of the points she's trying to make. Yes, the damsel in distress is far overused and plays into female gender stereotypes. Yes, it would be fantastic if game writers would abandon this dead horse already.

However, it irks me how sensitive she seems to anything that may play into female disempowerment in the slightest. The moment I saw Spelunky's girl was interchangable with a man or a dog, my mind started repeating "don't get offended about the dog, plleeeease don't get offended about the dog". Being reduced to a powerless object is no worse. Yet she proceeds to take offense that a lowly DOG could be the companion. I see more of a problem with a dog or woman being wailed against the hero's obstacles, but maybe that's just me.

Edited by Moguta

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Her point was that all things being equal, a man saving a woman and a woman saving a man would be no different. But one of those reinforces a cultural stereotype and the other doesn't. Anita's point is that the context matters. For example, look at the Italian prime minister, a black woman who at a recent conference had bananas thrown at her. This was obviously a racial jab and many people obviously found it extremely racist and offensive. If people were throwing bananas at a white person instead, because there is no cultural stereotype of white people being or looking like monkeys, it wouldn't be nearly as offensive.

the irony here is that to make most of her points on 'pernicious behavior' she completely ignores context to do it. her point on spelunky was absolutely preposterous. she literally was like 'it's fine if a guy is captured. it's not fine it a woman is captured.' and i get your point at context here but here's what the context ACTUALLY is: that what you're rescuing is completely inconsequential and holds no weight in the narrative or in anything else. what if the default setting was the dog? literally nothing would be different.

the only good part about this video was when she listed games that she thought did what she wants well, and the example at the end. those were constructive.

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construction is good, retribution is stupid

arguing that it's okay if something happens to a certain group of people after spending so much time arguing that it's not okay that it happens to another completely invalidates ones point

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that what you're rescuing is completely inconsequential and holds no weight in the narrative or in anything else. what if the default setting was the dog? literally nothing would be different.

OK, but again, the point she's making is that when women are portrayed as being totally helpless and in need of rescue, it reinforces a negative cultural stereotype. In a perfect ideal world where women don't have to deal with very real sexism IRL then yes, it wouldn't matter one way or the other whether it was a man, dog, woman, etc... but now we're going in circles and retreading the same exact stuff that has been stated and argued for the last 50+ pages. If you don't believe that the use of the trope contributes to cultural attitudes, then of course you're not going to agree with any of the underlying points in the videos.

That's not how tropes work. They aren't agents of necessity. Art does not require them, or not require them.

You're over-thinking or reading too much into the sentence. People in this thread (and elsewhere) have defended new retro-style games with a very generic plot device like the damsel in distress as being throwbacks, so therefore it's OK. Anita's point, which I agree with, is that you don't HAVE to have a damsel in distress to have a throwback game. This is really not a controversial idea. You can have a game with sweet 8bit graphics, music, and retro gameplay without the princess being kidnapped.

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Aquaria, awesome game and a soundtrack i've never stopped listening to. I'm upset that it's even mentioned in this series.

...and shes going after Earthworm Jim now ?!

Edited by Garpocalypse

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