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What about the possibility that they are trolls looking to get a rise out of her? I don't think very many of those people hate her, but simply they enjoy pissing people off. Especially those who paint themselves or a particular group of people as victims.

That is a possibility. I just think it's a highly unlikely one.

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Andy, I do think there's a line between criticism and advocacy (or, on an extreme end of the spectrum, propaganda)... criticism would be primarily interested in the merit of a work; advocacy would use

Well said; I just don't view it as zero-sum, nor do I view "hardcore" gaming as something that necessarily needs to evaporate to let the medium truly flourish. It can't be the standard-bearer for the

The nuance is that he doesn't believe that belief has anything to do with it, and that a person's actions are inseparable from their character or that there is any belief beyond what is in accordance

I was using the general you. Anyway, what are some alternative reasons for disagreement? I think your evaluation sounds reasonable on the face of it, and in principle I agree that critics shouldn't be instantly branded. But in this case, we have a woman who is correct in diagnosing deeply entrenched sexism in videogames. Why so much hate? I can think of two reasons, which you mentioned. What else is there?

The criticisms raised by Charlemagne earlier seemed legit to me, and didn't sound sexist or fanboyish. As for other alternative reasons, I'll have to think about it for a bit.

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What about the possibility that they are trolls looking to get a rise out of her? I don't think very many of those people hate her, but simply they enjoy pissing people off. Especially those who paint themselves or a particular group of people as victims.

Not buying it. The level of misogyny, threats of violence, rape, death threats, and even anti-semitism she received goes well beyond garden variety trolling. She struck a nerve with this project, unfortunately it was in a bunch of dudes with some real issues towards women.

Edited by Argle
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I would also argue that people in this thread missed her main point about Mario and Double Dragon here. I don't think Ms. Sarkeesian was even arguing that the "damsel in distress" element was essential or even major component to the story. Of course it's not essential--games didn't really even have the capacity for elaborate stories back then. The point of her focusing on those specific games was to explain what the "damsel in distress" theme was. She then went on to explain that even if it seems minor, there are a countless number of other games with that same theme. Since this trait is not applied with reversed gender roles nearly as often, it is otherizing and a type of microaggression.

Edited by Ab56 v2 aka Ash
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That is a possibility. I just think it's a highly unlikely one.

There's tons of people out there on the internet who say crazy and offensive shit just to get a reaction. Ever played a shooter online? I used to play Halo 2 online back in the day, it was rare to go a game without a rape reference or racial slur. The whole point of that is to get a reaction, not with any sort of seriousness. It seems to me to be a not unlikely possibility.

Not buying it. The level of misogyny, threats of violence, rape, death threats, and even anti-semitism she received goes well beyond garden variety trolling. She struck a nerve with this project, unfortunately it was in a bunch of dudes with some real issues towards women.

Ever played a game on Xbox Live, you hear that shit all the time. Anonymity allows anyone to get a reaction out of people without risk of repercussions. Anita Sarkeesian is talking about sexism against women, of course the trolls will make misogynistic threats.

Obviously this doesn't excuse those kinds of comments, but people will say very disgusting things just to get a rise. If you put yourself out there, you will face nasty comments, no matter who you are.

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Maybe the nasty shit people say online has some actual bearing in the way they think? I know I for one have never felt the need to use violent, misogynistic, anti-semetic language. Even in jest.

For some people, sure, but who can say how many? It's difficult to verify. In the case of online games, the competitive nature can account for a lot. People say all sorts of things in anger.

As for say, YouTube comments, I think people many people enjoy eliciting some sort of response. I think it gives people satisfaction to know they have the power to manipulate others with their words.

Absolutely some people really do have violent, misogynistic, anti-semetic, and racist tendencies in their actual thoughts. However, I argue that those people are in the minority.

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I find it interesting that some on the feminism side of the argument rant about the idea of "damsels in distress" as if it were on the same level as the woman being captured, raped, beaten and forced to watch hours of Swamp Loggers.

Is it an overused trope? Sure. It's been around for centuries after all. But to devote an entire 20-plus minute episode to it seems a bit much. It's not that deep and dark an idea that it needs such a lengthy video... especially when you're focused on '80s and '90s mainstream video games. Most times, a violent and brutal capturing wasn't depicted (there were some of course, like Double Dragon). More often than not, the woman was simply snatched away, or captured off-screen, with nothing pointing to her being violated in some way during or after her abduction. So the anger that some have over the "damsels" idea when speaking of older games seems misplaced.

It's not a bad start to the video series, but it really could have been trimmed and made more effective without having to repeat various points. Make the point, show examples, delve into the history with said examples, and end with a reference back to the main point. The more you beat your message over the head of those watching, the greater the chance you'll have of losing them before the video's over.

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Ever played a game on Xbox Live, you hear that shit all the time. Anonymity allows anyone to get a reaction out of people without risk of repercussions. Anita Sarkeesian is talking about sexism against women, of course the trolls will make misogynistic threats.

Here's a different way to look at it, there was a recent study that found that the commentary on articles and whatnot actually affect the way people view the content of the article. So for example if you plopped a completely neutral/unknowing person down infront of one of her videos, and then they were to scroll down to a bunch of asshats and trolls (for whatever reason), that neutral person is going to be more likely to take a similar stance as the cesspit often found in youtube comments.

That aside, just because this is the internet ect ect, doesn't mean it is acceptable to behave so horribly towards other human beings, nor does it mean that ANYONE should just lie down and take abuse just because 'it's going to happen anyway'. Threats and the like are NEVER OK, it doesn't matter if it is over the internet or in person. And to say someone needs to have a thicker skin over something or should just get used to it is completely sidestepping the point.

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I find it interesting that some on the feminism side of the argument rant about the idea of "damsels in distress" as if it were on the same level as the woman being captured, raped, beaten and forced to watch hours of Swamp Loggers.

Is it an overused trope? Sure. It's been around for centuries after all. But to devote an entire 20-plus minute episode to it seems a bit much. It's not that deep and dark an idea that it needs such a lengthy video... especially when you're focused on '80s and '90s mainstream video games. Most times, a violent and brutal capturing wasn't depicted (there were some of course, like Double Dragon). More often than not, the woman was simply snatched away, or captured off-screen, with nothing pointing to her being violated in some way during or after her abduction. So the anger that some have over the "damsels" idea when speaking of older games seems misplaced.

It's not a bad start to the video series, but it really could have been trimmed and made more effective without having to repeat various points. Make the point, show examples, delve into the history with said examples, and end with a reference back to the main point. The more you beat your message over the head of those watching, the greater the chance you'll have of losing them before the video's over.

What's sexist about the DID trope is not that it glorifies rape or whatever, it's that it insinuates that women are powerless objects who need men to save them. The video wasn't all that repetitive, either - to be sure, there was a unifying topic, but she develops it in different ways throughout.

Also, I'd say anything that's been around for centuries and that we're still sticking into our stories today deserves more than a few 20-minute youtube videos about it.

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Here's a different way to look at it, there was a recent study that found that the commentary on articles and whatnot actually affect the way people view the content of the article. So for example if you plopped a completely neutral/unknowing person down infront of one of her videos, and then they were to scroll down to a bunch of asshats and trolls (for whatever reason), that neutral person is going to be more likely to take a similar stance as the cesspit often found in youtube comments.

Do you have a link to this study? It sounds bogus to me.

That aside, just because this is the internet ect ect, doesn't mean it is acceptable to behave so horribly towards other human beings, nor does it mean that ANYONE should just lie down and take abuse just because 'it's going to happen anyway'. Threats and the like are NEVER OK, it doesn't matter if it is over the internet or in person. And to say someone needs to have a thicker skin over something or should just get used to it is completely sidestepping the point.

Right below the end that quote from me, you'll notice I said my points do not excuse those types of comments. I was discussing the reasons behind trolls. I in no way implied nasty comments are acceptable.

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I find it interesting that some on the feminism side of the argument rant about the idea of "damsels in distress" as if it were on the same level as the woman being captured, raped, beaten and forced to watch hours of Swamp Loggers.

Maybe it's not the darkest trope, but it's a pattern worth noticing. At the end of the day, I see her videos as less about academia or entertainment and more about simply standing up for an idea. Who is her audience? That's a question we have to ask. Is it those who disagree, agree, or the yet to be convinced? To be realistic, people have already picked sides. She's just showing resilience in the face of controversy. I like that, but I want her to go beyond recognizing patterns. The follow-up video might do that. For now, the very existence of these videos is a nice statement.

As a side note on damsels, is the idea of a kidnapped but powerful 'damsel' not exciting itself? From a pure gameplay point of view, I loved it in Paper Mario with Peach's segments. We got the villain's point of view, and there's opportunity for the hero and damsel to cooperate. It's a cool plot device if damsel stories aren't to be ditched.

Edited by Modus
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Do you have a link to this study? It sounds bogus to me.

Right below the end that quote from me, you'll notice I said my points do not excuse those types of comments. I was discussing the reasons behind trolls. I in no way implied nasty comments are acceptable.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/opinion/sunday/this-story-stinks.html?_r=0

Here's the study.

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Hmm, seems legit. To be fair though, cobaltstarfire's description of the study wasn't entirely accurate. And this study didn't use the type of extreme comments seen on Anita's video.

EDIT: The comments in the study were merely rude and did have some content, they were not disgusting and threatening, and void of content.

Edited by Cash
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I would also argue that people in this thread missed her main point about Mario and Double Dragon here. I don't think Ms. Sarkeesian was even arguing that the "damsel in distress" element was essential or even major component to the story. Of course it's not essential--games didn't really even have the capacity for elaborate stories back then. The point of her focusing on those specific games was to explain what the "damsel in distress" theme was. She then went on to explain that even if it seems minor, there are a countless number of other games with that same theme. Since this trait is not applied with reversed gender roles nearly as often, it is otherizing and a type of microaggression.

I just disagreed with some of the words she used. She claims the games show the damsel as an object being stolen from the protagonists. While that's true for many games, can you really say that about Zelda for example? Link and Zelda barely meet in most games and he usually saves her because of the triforce stuff rather than "recovering his stolen possession". In the Mario games it'd seem he rescues Peach just for the heck of it. I'm not 100% sure but I don't even remember NSMB Wii ever telling you that the game is about rescuing Peach. It's kind of obvious by the context though :-P

It's clear that her intentions with the video where to introduce the trope and show that it was extremely overused in the early eras of gaming (which is true). I just didn't like that she took 2 popular cases of the trope and used them to state points that didn't really apply to them. Some did, but it just felt odd. It was also kind of weird how she singled out Miyamoto many times during the video.

EDIT: I guess that for some reason I don't feel that the DiD is a big deal in some cases and that's why I don't really like the video that much. Some cases are clearly very offensive (Dragon's Lair...) but some are so tame that making a big deal about them seems wrong to me.

Edited by jnWake
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What's sexist about the DID trope is not that it glorifies rape or whatever, it's that it insinuates that women are powerless objects who need men to save them. The video wasn't all that repetitive, either - to be sure, there was a unifying topic, but she develops it in different ways throughout.

Also, I'd say anything that's been around for centuries and that we're still sticking into our stories today deserves more than a few 20-minute youtube videos about it.

You felt it wasn't repetitive, yet I did. So I guess we're not going to agree on that point.

To be blunt, some women are helpless and unable to defend themselves from an attacker, just as there are men who fall into the same mold. It's hard to call something sexist when there is actual truth behind it on both sides. Not every woman is a Lara Croftian, gun-totting badass. Do you think Paris Hilton would be able to pull off the same kind of self defense that Laila Ali could? I sincerely doubt it. And to expect every woman to be Laila Ali is as silly as them all being helpless. It is true that rarely did the man get captured and need rescuing by his female companion/lover in these older games, so I'm not arguing that. But I am arguing over the idea that it deserves to be labeled as sexist; like it was done to "put a woman in her place" as it were.

In older games, more often than not, the plot of the game was basically a fairy tale; a simple story to drive the simplistic level video games were at (especially arcade games, which had their stories kept to very simplistic concepts). A love taken must be gotten back. A princess was kidnapped and you must rescue her. Yes, this is a thoroughly beaten plot (no MLP reference intended), but to call it sexist seems a bit of a stretch. Why?

In human history, one of the most effective ways to get back at someone, or to get some kind of monetary gain from them, was to take something of value from them that you knew they'd want back at any cost. One of those things, was a richer man's wife/daughter/lover (with "richer" being in money, land, stature, whatever). Kidnap her, put forth the idea that she'd be forever lost somehow, and the man would be at your mercy. In the real world, the bandits might do any number of horrible things to her. But this isn't the real world, it's an older video game. So like the fairy tales that simplified the very real world concept into something not as dark for younger audiences, '80s/early '90s video games did the same thing (usually).

The games that used this old trope aren't saying all women are helpless, and anyone making that assumption is making a leap in logic that Evel Knievel would be proud of. The one woman who was captured in that game might have been helpless at that moment, but to suggest that her helplessness applies to all women at all times doesn't show a very strong sense of self identity within those who get offended by the concept of a woman being depicted as helpless.

As I said, it is a well worn idea; one that's been thankfully getting put aside more and more in video games. And yes, I can understand why women would be tired of seeing it used after so many games did so. But to call it sexist doesn't strike me as correct, as it suggests the game designers used it for nefarious reasons. Maybe some did, but until it's shown that many did, I believe those women-hating designers would be in an extreme minority, and older games using the simple "damsel" idea did so for simplicity's sake with no ill intent, and aren't something truly sexist in my book.

Edited by The Coop
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EDIT: I guess that for some reason I don't feel that the DiD is a big deal in some cases and that's why I don't really like the video that much. Some cases are clearly very offensive (Dragon's Lair...) but some are so tame that making a big deal about them seems wrong to me.

This is a bit of a straw man. She wasn't making a "big deal" about Mario and Peach, unless you have some other definition of the term. She went out of her way to say that you can still play and enjoy these games and have fun, and that she grew up playing such games. That's fine. She never said it was evil, or that it was going to destroy America or whatever. The reason why Peach and Zelda were brought up several times was because Mario and Zelda games are ridiculously popular on the order of hundreds of millions of sales, and are perhaps some of the biggest icons in the entire video game industry. A couple minutes of screentime in a YouTube video is merited.

Are there specific things she said that you disagree with? Your objections seem kinda vague and not really in response to any specific thing. I think everything she said was exactly on the mark and not even really debatable. Just seeing so many examples of women being dragged off screaming 'help me' definitely made me uncomfortable but that's the reality of how games evolved in many ways.

To be blunt, some women are helpless and unable to defend themselves

Uh... OK..? Some men can't defend themselves either. Basically your whole post there is saying "Well, this is a traditional tale, so who cares." I don't get how that is a defense of the trope. Anita never said that the game designers were evil or nefarious. She outlined her conclusion very clearly, in fact, and I don't know why people keep ignoring it. The point was this:

Women have been in a lesser position across pretty much all civilizations for thousands to tens of thousands of years. They have been reduced to property (literally), stripped of rights to get education, vote, divorce, refuse sex, etc. Most civil rights for women have only arisen in DEVELOPED countries within the last century or so, and even then, we're still fighting workplace harassment, wage gaps, rape, domestic abuse, etc. If you look to other countries around the world, you see stories of rapists walking scot-free, fathers killing daughters for 'honor', and many more atrocities.

We (society) have been fighting AGAINST the sexist attitude that women are weaker, stupider, more powerless, etc. for a long time now and progress has been really slow. Anita was correct when she said MANY people still have these views on some level. So considering the history and ingrained biases we are dealing with, and considering that video games are more and more of a cultural influence than ever (bigger than movies now), we have to think about the CONTENT in these games and how it reinforces or goes against stereotypes.

Anita pretty conclusively showed that through the history of games, the damsel-in-distress trope, which overwhelmingly shows women as being too weak to save themselves and requiring men to rescue them, was overwhelmingly common. This trope REINFORCES negative views on women even if it's on a very small level. It's another voice in the chorus of "women are weak, they need men". Even if that wasn't the intention of the game designers, that IS the view that it reinforces.

Edited by zircon
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This is a bit of a straw man. She wasn't making a "big deal" about Mario and Peach, unless you have some other definition of the term. She went out of her way to say that you can still play and enjoy these games and have fun, and that she grew up playing such games. That's fine. She never said it was evil, or that it was going to destroy America or whatever. The reason why Peach and Zelda were brought up several times was because Mario and Zelda games are ridiculously popular on the order of hundreds of millions of sales, and are perhaps some of the biggest icons in the entire video game industry. A couple minutes of screentime in a YouTube video is merited.

Of course she has to put them there, I'm not discussing that. I just don't feel that Peach produces any of the negative effects of the DiD trope that she mentions at the end of the video (but maybe that's just me :razz:). Some of the other games are clearly more offensive in portraying women as weak and helpless or as objects belonging to men but she didn't spend much time on those games (Double Dragon being almost the only exception).

I don't disagree with the content of the video, since it mostly highlights that the trope is extremely overused in gaming. I guess I'd have liked her to expand more on some of the examples that she shows instead of focusing so much on 2, not very harmful (in my opinion), examples of the trope. She may do this in future videos though...

EDIT: Not related with the above, talking about female characters that kind of don't follow this trope, I like Kerrigan from Starcraft. Raynor wishes she was a Damsel in Distress instead of the crazy thing she becomes after turning into a Zerg :razz:

Edited by jnWake
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What about the possibility that they are trolls looking to get a rise out of her? I don't think very many of those people hate her, but simply they enjoy pissing people off. Especially those who paint themselves or a particular group of people as victims.

There's a video from a while back that addresses this (and more), which I think is worth watching if anyone hasn't seen it already: http://vimeo.com/44117178

I want to be extra clear that I'm not trying to pigeon-hole everyone who voices disagreement with Anita as being one of the "trolls." The point of the above video, really, is that it's not good for our gaming community when we brush off the trolling as unimportant because it's "just trolls being trolls." Not that that's what Cash and Change was saying exactly-- I don't want to put words in anyone's mouth-- but I don't think it's healthy for our community when we help legitimize that kind of trolling or ascribe to it the most soft-ball, optimistic motives imaginable.

Certainly I like to give the benefit of the doubt to people, and sometimes trolls are best left ignored. But in the case of the tidal wave of hate that came for Anita before she even released her first video, it seems clear to me that that facet of the response to Anita has gone beyond a baseline level of trolling. Truly, the reaction to Anita's kickstarter has been so fierce and disproportionate to anything else I've seen, it's hard for me to accept that it's just trolls doing their thing. My faith in humanity has its limits.

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I just disagreed with some of the words she used. She claims the games show the damsel as an object being stolen from the protagonists. While that's true for many games, can you really say that about Zelda for example? Link and Zelda barely meet in most games and he usually saves her because of the triforce stuff rather than "recovering his stolen possession". In the Mario games it'd seem he rescues Peach just for the heck of it. I'm not 100% sure but I don't even remember NSMB Wii ever telling you that the game is about rescuing Peach. It's kind of obvious by the context though :-P

Whilst there's never an intimation that Zelda is Link's 'property' the fact that she is rendered helpless again and again and again is fairly stark. As the video points out, Zelda is nowhere near the offender Peach is, but the evidence still stacks up over 25 years of repeated kidnaps etc....

And yes, in most games, taken on an individual case, there's no harm and there's always a plot sensitive good reason it's taken place. However it happens again and again and again...

Have you heard of the dad who altered TWW so that Link was a girl for his children? He argued there's nothing in the game that would prevent this from being the case and there's no reason his girls shouldn't have a role model of their own. It's a perfectly valid point.

I would also argue that TWW is one of the worst offenders of the Zelda damsel in distress meme. For half the game she's presented as a strong, practical, dominant female, but the moment she's revealed to be Zelda 'OH NO, YOU ARE FEMALE AND WEAK, DO NOT VENTURE OUTSIDE' followed by 'GANONDORF TAKES YOU' ;-)

Again, the game has a story that it is following, but the shift is so sudden and so stark it's ridiculous. Why throw away one of the best characters in the game in order to follow a trope that does nothing good?

And whilst Link has never said 'Zelda is my property' Ganondorf has again and again and again....

So yeah, sorry to harp on about one game series, but the problem isn't that the damsel in distress meme is inherently bad or a problem in itself, it's that it is used so often and unnecessarily. Guys save girls, guys save girls, and then once or twice, for a little variation; girls saved by guys.

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I find it hard to believe that someone who has been in this 'internet show' thing as long as she has would still have thin skin towards youtube comments.

There's a crucial difference between 'YOU SUCK BALLS' comments and 'I know where you live, I have a chainsaw, I'll be around next Tuesday.'

The kind of comments she was received were the latter.

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While well edited and full of clear examples, I don't think the whole 23 min video added anything new that we didn't know. Yes, the concept of "damsel in distress" is overused. Does it sell?, probably yes, to the majority of the audience at least. So why trying to 'fix' something that already works?, we're talking about big companies, not moral enterprises, most of the writers working there on games stories are probably given a template they have to fulfill, so that doesn't give them much of a choice anyway.

The concept is simple and really easy and lazy to implement, and in the end, it kind of works. So I don't see it changing anytime soon.

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I'll state my opinion briefly, while it is overused I think it's used for a reason. I think the damsel in distress concept is so ingrained in society from the beginning of time that there's probably no getting past it. I think it's worth debating whether or not Mario would have been as successful of a series if it was Peach trying to rescue Mario from a castle, or Pauline trying to save Mario from Donkey Kong. I don't think it would have made as much sense... maybe I'm wrong, but men have never really been known as "trophy husbands". World War 2 was a great time for strong women and I think the strong woman movement should have continued to expand from then, but it didn't seem to. I think to some extent it is gender roles dictated by nature which is why rescuing Pauline from the giant ape seems more natural than the opposite of Pauline rescuing Mario. That's how I see it sorta.

I really want Tomb Raider and I like the idea of stronger women characters in video games. I think we're far enough along as a society that we could take it and embrace it and nobody would have to be butthurt about it. Though, no offense, I think men would be a lot less outspoken about it if men suddenly became the feminine characters in games. (I mean in terms of Maninists speaking in front of Congress :-P) Gamers are gamers, we don't typically think of these things when we play.

I liked Jansen a lot from Lost Odyssey even though he was quite feminine, and I did hear a lot of people make fun of that character, so obviously my view of that is wrong and I never said I was right, I was just sharing a view.

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I really want to agree with her points, but I'm waiting to see where she casts the blame; whether it's the media or actual consumers. I've gone on enough "publishers vs. consumers" rants here to last a lifetime, so I'll just point out the main points in my thesis which honestly should be self-evident to anyone with an IQ above 100: Consumers consume things. Consumers like sex ergo consumers will buy/consume sex. Media companies sell things that consumers like, ergo they sell sex. It therefore stands to reason that if consumers stop buying sex, then media companies will stop selling it, along with a slew of other things that people here seem to dislike.

She mentions in her video that video games are becoming more and more culturally relevant. Ignoring the fact that were this true, I'd be street passing MANY times more people on my 3DS which I'm not, it totally ignores the "feedback loop" between media and consumer(AKA the above point), not to mention that she's going to have a hard time defending her(personally speaking) seemingly one-sided case when she talks about the art and aesthetic side of the whole argument.

I'll be watching and hoping, but also keeping my expectations relatively stable.

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