A lot of people don’t like Anita Sarkeesian. I’m not going to debate that. I’ve been an avid follower of hers and Feminist Frequency since its inception, but even I’ve found myself missing some of the newer instalments she’s made in her popular “Tropes vs. Women in Videogames” series. Some of the main criticisms of the first season were directed at the sometimes one-sided arguments Sarkeesian presented, with not enough ample examples of good representations being considered.
I’ve not followed the entirety of the second season (shorter, more to the point videos which kicked off in January), but I have to admit that her latest is easily the best one yet. And it tackles an argument that feels almost age old now: Are woman too difficult to animate?
This sarcastic response spawned from Ubisoft’s response to the exclusion of woman in Assassin’s Creed Unity back in 2014, and has been a talking point ever since. In her latest piece, Sarkeesian uses this as a platform to not only dispel the ridiculous notion that animating a woman is mountains of more work, but also to presents an interesting discussion of the role of female combatants in videogames.
You might assume that violence against women in videogames might provoke a stance of no tolerance from Sarkeesian, and you’d be wrong. As she so eloquently fleshes out in the video, violence against woman (and by all respects, men) makes sense when said violence isn’t gendered. As an example, Sarkeesian cites the inclusion of woman in Call of Duty and BioShock Infinite as strong, since the violence perpetuated with them fits with the idea of a female combatant. You fight, and kill, these enemies because they’re on the opposing team – not because they’re women.
“In Assassin’s Creed Syndicate both the player’s gang and enemy gangs have rank and file female members that fight alongside the men.”
As a counter, Sarkeesian uses examples from Saints Row 3 and Hitman: Absolution as examples where the sex of your enemies is used primarily to sexualise the act of killing, which is meant to illicit a sense of arousal which is then associated with violence. This is where a serious problem lies, according to Sarkeesian, and is a bad example of inclusion of any minority in videogames.
“Whenever female combatants are clothed in sexualising attire it sets them noticeably apart from other enemy units. It’s intended to make players’ encounters with them sexually titillating, and that’s particularly troubling considering that those encounters involve fighting and killing those characters.”
It’s an incredibly thoughtful entry into the long-running series that has once again piqued my interest in Sarkeesian and her team’s evaluation of tropes in videogames. If this episode is any indication, this new season takes to heart the constructive criticism the first got, presenting a more balanced argument to help praise inclusion where it’s done right, and further expose other cases where sexism and all it encompasses is blatantly on display.
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Last Updated: July 29, 2016