On Feminist Frequency, crowdfunding, and promises

9 min read
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Tropes vs women

Anita Sarkeesian is an incredibly polarizing figure. I’m not looking to debate her content here; some people enjoy her work towards inclusion of women in gaming and others think she looks for problems where there aren’t any. When she originally took to Kickstarter to raise money for her Tropes vs Women in Video Games series, she was asking for $6 000. That amount was reached within 24 hours, and she went on to raise $158 922. She gave a financial breakdown of how the money was spent. Four years later, has she actually delivered on her Kickstarter promises?

Did she deliver?

When the Kickstarter started, she planned to make five videos: Damsel in Distress, The Fighting F#@k Toy, The Sexy Sidekick, The Sexy Villainess, Background Decoration. As the stretch goals were met, this was expanded into 12 videos with the inclusion of: Voodoo Priestess/Tribal Sorceress, Women as Reward, Mrs. Male Character, Unattractive Equal Evil, Man with Boobs, Positive Female Characters! and Top 10 Most Common Defenses of Sexism in Games. Each video was promised to be 10-20 minutes long, giving a total series of 2-4 hours of content. These 12 videos weren’t meant to vilify the industry, but Sarkeesian had a mission statement of:

Help me create another successful video series that will contribute to and help amplify the existing conversations happening about female characters in games and maybe even get the attention of the gaming industry to start creating more interesting, engaging and complex female characters, that avoid the standard boring clichés.

Not including reviews and speeches published on her channel, or the videos about how men can help overcome sexism, the Feminist Frequency has published 12 videos on the topics of Tropes vs Women. The titles of these videos are:

  • Damsel in Distress: Part 1
  • Damsel in Distress: Part 2
  • Damsel in Distress: Part 3
  • The Legends of the Last Princess
  • Ms. Male Character
  • Women as Background Decoration: Part 1
  • Women as Background Decoration: Part 2
  • The Scythian – Positive Female Characters in Video Games
  • Jade – Positive Female Characters in Video Games
  • Women as Reward
  • Women as Reward – Special DLC Mini Episode
  • Strategic Butt Coverings

The total run time for these videos is 3 hours, 40 minutes, 8 seconds. Upon superficial inspection, the titles are different than originally proposed and it might seem that the Feminist Frequency hasn’t really covered the topics originally intended. However, they have produced the amount of content promised, plus in a recent update on Kickstarter, Sarkeesian explained that she actually burned out as a result of working on the videos while dealing with national exposure and harassment. As a result, the publication schedule has been extended and backers can expect the following videos in the coming year.

Tropes vs women year 2

While these additional videos could be interesting, based just on what the Feminist Frequency has published so far, Sarkeesian has already fulfilled her original Kickstarter promise. She has contributed to and amplified the conversation about female characters in games with about as much video content as originally expected – whether or not you like her methods and arguments, she certainly has made it a conversation that we discussed enough in 2015 to become sick of it. The gaming industry is starting to avoid the typical clichés in some of their games, and we are seeing a rise in the quantity and quality of female characters.

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Because she is continuing to develop more videos, she could not be expected to send out the DVDs of the completed series to backers yet, nor would I assume she has completed the classroom curriculum. Yes, the years are ticking by, and those expecting a physical reward might be getting frustrated, but the video series is on-going and she has already delivered more content than backers originally supported.

Kickstarter, Patreon and the crowdfunding ethos

We often crap on studios that don’t deliver games as promised in their Kickstarters. While there are awesome examples of Kickstarted games like Stasis, Divinity: Original Sin and Pillars of Eternity that deliver quality games that live up to the expectations of backers, there are too many stories of games that over stretch or fail to deliver or ask for more money for new projects.

A prime example is Red Ash. After getting an excellent response to Mighty No. 9, the studio launched another Kickstarter for a similar Mega Man inspired game. This was before delivering on the first game, and the Kickstarter itself didn’t look that promising. Eight months later, Might No. 9 has been hit with a ton of delays (despite being “pretty much finished” last year) and I’m starting to wonder if backers will get the game they were promised in time for them to still be excited about it. It makes the Red Ash campaign seem even more disingenuous and feels like some studios view crowdfunding as a source of cash without accountability.

mightyno.9.png

While studios that fail to deliver on their Kickstarter promises should be taken to task, we do need to look at the point of Kickstarter and other crowdfunding platforms. The idea behind Kickstarter is that artists and creators often have ideas for cool projects, but need money to make them happen. Backers can give them the money they need in exchange for a product that wouldn’t have existed without them. Patreon, on the other hand, allowed patrons to give money to creators that they like so that those creators can make whatever products interest them from month to month – while there is an expectation that things will be created, there is little to no oversight about what the artist chooses to make from week to week or month to month.

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Crowdfunding has changed in the past four years. Originally, it was just a way to get money for a project and then move on. Now, it is just as important as a marketing ploy and gauge of interest as evidenced in the Shenmue 3 and Bloodstained campaigns. Kickstarter was used to prove to corporate backers that gamers really did want these projects to go forward; the money raised will, of course, help make the experiences possible, but they aren’t the sole source of funding. Instead, they are a proof that there’s an interested audience for these games.

Bloodstain

Anita Sarkeesian originally promised a series of videos, and she has already delivered within expectations when it comes to run time. Now she is looking for more money for a new project that has nothing to do with gaming. This has prompted some on the internet to claim she’s just greedy and looking for money all the time without delivering on previous Kickstarter obligations. However, Sarkeesian doesn’t appear to be like Red Ash – she’s already made and released the content described in her original Kickstarter campaign, and is going to continue to make more content this year. Her new crowdfunding campaign is for a different project all together. I doubt it will get funding – not because it’s a bad project, but because it isn’t a part of such a niche interest. She is now entering the realm of typical feminist critique, and I’m not sure that people will be as intrigued by the idea.

Perhaps she would be better off relying on Patreon rather than crowdfunding these distinct projects. At least with Patreon, the Feminist Frequency can work on whatever aspect of feminist critique interests the organization (yes, it’s grown beyond just Sarkeesian) at a point in time – from gaming to history, they can make videos on a range of topics and continue to get funding from patrons. But it’s not for me to tell her what she should do.

Instead, upon evaluating what she’s delivered, she simply doesn’t compare to the myriad Kickstarters that have failed to deliver. She doesn’t deserve to be named and shamed as a Kickstarter reneger; whether or not you like her videos, she has produced the content that people paid for, and is continuing to make the videos promised in her original campaign. Yes, it is taking longer than initially planned, but that seems to be how things go when Kickstarter campaigns are extended after receiving such huge responses.

Except for Exploding Kittens, of course.

Last Updated: March 10, 2016

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let’s get on with it!

  • konfab
    • miaau

      Hey, some things wrong…….

    • SentientSlug

      HAHA, comment of the week for sure

      • miaau

        BUT, what does the dog know that we do not? That is a great pic

        • For the Emperor!

          *doge

    • Pariah

      As much as I hate this meme, this comment is pure LOL

      • Captain JJ the Isolated

        You hate doge?
        Have you no soul?

        • Pariah

          I’m a Ginger. What do you think?

          • Captain JJ the Isolated

            Ah. Fair enough. 😛

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            That you’ve got more soul than anyone in the immediate vicinity?

        • Matthew Holliday

          much hate
          such soul
          wow

    • Captain JJ the Isolated

      XD

  • D4RKL1NG

    Lol what a scammer. Just watch this:

    • miaau

      Yeah, but Zoe asked that we not debate the person.

      tough one…….

      • D4RKL1NG

        Not debating the person. This is more about shady business practices

    • SentientSlug

      Fem frequency NON-profit? please

  • miaau

    Ok, so not about the content?

    Kickstarter and backers: is there a contract between that must delivery on the word of the Kickstarter page OR the spirit?

    Regardless of how I feel about (And I have done a lot of research on her and the comments surrounding her), I think she met the spirit of what she promised to deliver, if barely.

    Anybody that has backed this or another kickstarter AND got something different to the letter want to comment?

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      Well that Desktop Dungeons game had a Kickstarter & delivered something different to its initial pitch – some people weren’t too happy, others were quite happy. People.

      • miaau

        people. complicated beasts. overly so.

        And I am told you must respect other peoples views too. something I have tried hard to do in my commenting here.

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          Respect the right to have an opinion, respect the right to voice the opinion, don’t have to respect the opinion. 😀

          • miaau

            indeed, yes. Well put.

            I will fight to defend your right to an opinion I do not agree with. It does tire one out.

            And I find sometimes at work I listen (technical issues or design problems) to people and I just want to shut them down without allowing them to finish. It does tire one out.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            lol. I know that feeling I once told a colleague who’d launched into a long (work-related) story that I wasn’t interested in, “can I just have the short version please?” I told another, “look, just tell me what you want in 10 words or less.” Back in those days I was far busier than now, so less time to muck about, and patience wasn’t my strong suit. And maybe all the caffeine.

          • miaau

            Yeah. You must listen. A difficult skill sometimes.

            On the other side, presentation skills is an important aspect that people overlook. I am passionate, my ideas are right, therefore you must understand them and go with that.

            No, not really. Even if you have the best ideas, you need to have some sort of way to present it. Short and sweet is the best.

            AND do not start the explanation in the middle, then claim you start in the middle to stop me asking questions later. No. Not happy.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            That’s so true. Not just what you say, but how you say it.

  • Anita Sarkeesian is like the Pied Piper of Hamelin. She deliberately says things that would be a contentious point, then gives examples that are all incorrect or misleading under the name of “educational”, in order to make all the rats mad, then she stands next to a cliff.

    Which started off ok, because it kept all the rats next to her and away from us decent people who just want to play games without being harassed by rats.

    But then she started charging money to colleges and universities to lead children off to cliff edges, and that’s just not on.

    Sounds like this well is dry, and she’s moving onto the next one. Good for her! Bye bye! We wish you luck! Don’t come back! 🙂

    • miaau

      This is, from what I could find, her second topic that was a “social crusade”. The first was a series of videos AND her thesis (I cannot for the live of me remember what, I think woman in business or something). Now, you cannot find this information at all. Google archive is where I found this

      • That’s good then, time for her to move on and leave gamers alone, just like whatever subject she covered before.

  • SentientSlug

    I don’t really care about her meeting her kickstarter goals, I am more concerned about the video content, and the fact that she lied about playing games all her life. There are videos of her telling people at university YEARS ago how she knew nothing about video games, but today claims to have played games all her life. you can find many videos about this on Youtube. So its more her integrity that bothers men. look below.

    here is a front row seat to how ignorant she is:

    and here is another one debunking the feminist frequency.

  • Umar

    Firstly, that dude in that video is extremely annoying and obnoxious. Secondly, it’s not gonna matter what she does, whether or not she delivered on her initial KS promise, people hate her, and therefore she will always be wrong. I always find it so hilarious when people talk about her fostering this ‘sensitive’ and easily offended culture, when those very people react so violently to her videos and opinions as if they’re the ones getting offended.

    The offended getting offended by the offender getting offended.

    It’s bullshit in the end, individuals need to make up their own damn mind. They look at her videos with such shock and disgust as if she’s breaking down the very fabric of your world. There are extremes to both sides of the spectrum, but within those extremes lies validity and it’s up to you to decide what’s the truth and what’s meaningful, but the focus always seems to be on breaking down the opposing side.

  • Sageville

    I only have one kickstarter interest since Stasis success and that is Star Citizen which appears eternally crowdsourced…

    Other than that I have no comment about Anita’s kickstarting more stuff, that’s for the backers to discuss…

    So are there any of these backers frequenting this site?

  • Khaleesi’s Boobs

    So basically, even if she talked shit in her 3+ hours of content, it’s okay solely because she delivered on the 3+ hours?

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      No, she’d have to talk three hours of shit related to the topics that she brought up. Whether it’s accurate or not is a different story. It’s just like backing a game, if you get the game then they’ve delivered – whether it’s good or not is up to you to decide.

  • Her whole spiel was a scam, but if people want to give her more money then go wild.. no skin off my nose.

    People love her crap so she’s obviously fulfilling some market.

    • miaau

      a little bit cynical, but how about these motivational speakers or after dinner speakers?

      Get a famous ex cricketer in to give a motivational speech.

      Some people will like it, others will hate.

      Imagine if Jonty or Fanie did a kickstarter promising to teach people the secret to success as, they did it. I think we will have the same debate over the content and the kickstarter.

      And I will DEFINITELY not approve of the content. I do not like motivational speakers. But some people do. My brother, for example, reads a LOT of biographies of successful people. He likes to see what they did.

      • Gavin… Cynical? Noooooooo

        • Pariah

          Never saw it coming, right?

      • SentientSlug

        NO this is completely different. This could be talks from relevant, high functioning members of society that have achieved something in life. These are sports stars with great success stories. Not a scammer who jumped on the feminism train. That’s exactly why people like fanie deViliers or jonty Rhodes are invited to these dinners and not the first hobo in the phone book.

        • miaau

          I get that, I really do.

          How do you think the detractors of “Ex cricket player X” would take this? I have heard people rave about his motivational speeches and others say they wish he would just shut up. That is the point I was trying to make. There is a wide world out there, with poeple willing to listen to all sorts of “odd” things”

          Why do / did people invite the young lady in the videos to do after dinner speeches? She did and was scheduled to do plenty in the US, until the threats et al put a stop to it.

          I am trying to make the point that some people do not see her as a scammer who jumped on the feminism train. Some people out there genuinely believe in her and what she does.

          as some people would believe in a “relevant, high functioning members of society that have achieved something in life”

          Just my gray area view on life, is all.

      • Sageville

        Motivational speakers and self help books, are really intended for people who like to be told what to do without all that “Thinking for yourself” bollocks….

      • Darren Peach

        Hey, Leave Britne……er Fanie alone.

        • miaau

          I choose names of people I know nothing about, as speakers. Just an example.

    • Captain JJ the Isolated

      There’s also a market for dog meat.

  • Alien Emperor Trevor

    I’ve backed plenty of Kickstarters. Not one has been released according to its original schedule. In my experience backers generally don’t mind as long as there’s clear communication why – in fact they’d rather wait for more polish than get a AAA game. I mean, a buggy game. Oops.

    These complaints – are they the views of her Kickstarter backers, ie the people who actually spent money and think they haven’t received what they paid for, or the views of the people who don’t like her and her views and are trying to cause shit?

    I watched one of her first videos, thought “hmkay” then went about the rest of my life. I honestly don’t understand why people shit their pants over what she says in her videos anyway. Critique of games from a particular POV doesn’t hurt you. Boo hoo. Don’t watch. But someone is wrong about games on the internet. Attack. Have a cookie.

    • The cookie is a lie, much like that kickstarter space game thingy!

    • Umar

      “Boo hoo. Don’t watch” ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

      • But he also promised cookies 🙁

        • Umar

          Probably a Marie Biscuit…We know Trev’s a cheap bastard.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Cost-effective thank you very much.

          • Umar

            Oh excuse me. keeping the EET SOM MOR for yourself I see.

          • hahahahahaha

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          They’re in the van.

    • miaau

      Can I have a cookie? A crunchie. Sugar free? Hmm.

      Yes, I will have a crunchie later. If the office admin people bought them. Want crunchie. See what you did there?

      • Alien Emperor Trevor

        That’s a good idea. My local Spar sells some decent crunchies. Not sugar free, nor as good as my great aunt used to make, but still.

        • miaau

          perhaps I can get some. Sugar free, though. hmm.

          Thanks

  • Kickstarter will not get a cent from me.

  • Jonah Cash

    I am attaching an article written by one of the creators of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter right after E3 2015. If you have the time read through it, it is a well thought out piece.
    https://medium.com/@adrianchm/the-truth-about-e3-2015-and-female-protagonists-b006094e44b1#.ts544i242

  • People need to get over her. Perfect example of fueling the fire you are trying to put out.

  • Captain JJ the Isolated

    Skyrim for the win.
    Where female armour is proper armour.

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    Basically, it all boils down to her being the biggest fraud gaming has seen in years.

  • Darren Peach

    Could be a very shrewd calculated risk, If Hillary Clinton wins the general election and becomes Americas next President, I reckon this series will do extremely well riding off the crest of that wave. Actually, Now that I think about it, The mere fact that Hillary is running helps lend credibility to the concept of this new series.

  • I didn’t know this website was also infested with Political Correctness Bullshit U.N Propaganda. Such a shame that nearly all gaming websites are going through it. I don’t know if it’s by force or just sell out, but this is getting ugly. It’s also in Tech sites, almost everywhere. For someone who said: Everything is sexist, everything is racist, everything is homophobic and you have to point it all out, this article went full retard.

    • Darren Peach

      It’s one of those things. In recent times the core have been made to feel unwelcome through the ramblings of Miss Sarkeesian. A dubious figure of note. To say she is doing the world any good is a lie we are forced into believing. But worry not. Here reign of terror is coming to a end and her relevance in our world has become inconsequential. Sanity is slowly prevailing. I have nothing but the utmost disrespect for her simply by virtue of the fact that here only link to the gaming and film world is politically motivated criticism. She does not create, She destroys…….

      • Very well said Darren 😉

      • ced1106

        Her reign ended after everyone outside of the choir moved on to the next internet crisis of the minute. I’m fine with more whatever-friendly games out there, but, guess what, they’re easier to have them out in the market *if they get made* instead of complaining about it. I hear there’s even a crowdfunding platform where those who share your vision can help with pledges to get your project funded…

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