Anita Sarkeesian took to Kickstarter to get money for her Tropes vs Women in Video Games series. I was very skeptical about the project, but I was wrong. She’s doing an awesome job and you should watch these.
Somehow, it sounded like more feminist whining but on a greater scale. However, seeing the quality of the videos as well as the solid argumentation, it makes a lot of sense. Her latest video deals with the concept of women as background decoration. Used to make games seem more gritty or villains more detestable, violence against women is used as a device. However, players have no way of helping these women – the best that they can do is kill their attackers but there is no way to interact with the victims afterwards. Sarkeesian argues that rather than expose some sort of gritty reality of violence against women, it actually just sanitizes it to make it comfortable for our consumption.
She makes an important point in her video descriptions, though:
The Tropes vs Women in Video Games project aims to examine the plot devices and patterns most often associated with female characters in gaming from a systemic, big picture perspective. This series will include critical analysis of many beloved games and characters, but remember that it is both possible (and even necessary) to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of it’s more problematic or pernicious aspects.
We can still enjoy games – this series isn’t about making us hate gaming or only see a certain side of it. However, it should highlight the endemic nature of sexism in gaming, just as violence in general is made easier for us to consume, and even enjoy. Games are entertaining and they still can be, but we should be aware of devices used that perpetuate stereotypes. Tropes are useful – inns and pubs in RPGs will always be the best place to find companions and missions, but are slowly getting phased out in favor of more nuanced approaches; it’s simply a matter of becoming aware of these cliches so that we can push developers and publishers towards finding more creative approaches. NPCs in general need more reimagining from developers, and if these discussions help them to start with women in this regard, then so be it.
Last Updated: August 26, 2014