She spelled out what she wants to see done, what she thinks game developers should think about doing differently. Would it be bad to have more playable female characters? But screw all that; here was another woman who enjoyed gaming enough to analyse it, and demand better from it. “Equal opportunity sexual objectification is not the answer here,” she said. I’d met her in person briefly last spring, before she won an Ambassador Award at the Game Developers Conference for her work critiquing video games. She has certainly been critical of the interactivity that leads players to rescuing damsels in distress, but if, say, developers changed many of the Eight Things she requested in her talk, it wouldn’t make games play differently, if at all. Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Title card used in the videos GenreVideo game culture Directed byAnita Sarkeesian Presented byAnita Sarkeesian Theme music composerMatt Joynt, Nathan Sandberg Country of originUSA Original languageEnglish No. I saw, as cliché as it is, that I was not alone. Anita Sarkeesian brings Tropes vs. Women in Video Games to a close "This is one of the most emotionally complicated projects I've ever created." Don't over-emphasize female characters' rear ends, not any more than you would the average male character's. The series’ thumbnails made no attempt to hide that they were presented by a woman- Anita Sarkeesian’s face was prominent and proud. Get Crafty With Your Old Editions Of Impact! Did Nottingham Forest Make A Mistake Firing Sabri Lamouchi? If you’ve got a project or speaking event you think I’d be a good fit for please reach out! Talk of gameplay brought Sarkeesian to her final point. Blogger, YouTuber, and media critic best known as the mind behind the Feminist Frequency blog and YouTube channel. It doesn’t help that Sarkeesian was one of the strongest voices behind #GamerGate. They won’t move people who might linger on the likely fact that changing how characters sit in Destiny or walk in Arkham City probably won’t make those games play any better. She talks about issues that she feels have been entrenched in games but go under-discussed. I just feel so unwelcome, and as a teenager that stuff is really hard to shake. During an unscripted Q&A, she said that modern gaming’s depiction of women was really bad. She talked about getting nostalgic while in college and buying a Super Nintendo to play Super Mario World. How do we truly determine the impact of the characters we see or control on how we relate to those characters or view the world? 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It seemed like a subset to another argument about female character animation. The community sent her death threats, doxed her, and even sent her images of her being raped by video game characters. Gamers are obviously debating this. Featured image courtesy of Liks Digital on Unsplash. Her material had rung true to me even as I’d recognized the complications of calling for diversity in creative work and even as I’d noticed that, sure, if you look closely enough, you can find an admirable female character even in a game that is frequently described as being insulting to women. We’re so excited to announce that the Games and Online Harassment Hotline is officially launching on August 3, 2020. She wanted to reach “fence-sitters,” people “who are like, ‘I’m interested, and I don’t know if I agree with you, and I’m curious.’”, As little as Sarkeesian mentioned her critics, I sensed that a lot of the start of her talk was designed to address their criticisms. I’d seen most of her Tropes gaming videos, of course, and, frankly, not had much issue with them. Feminist Frequency is raising funds for Tropes vs. Women in Video Games on Kickstarter! Picture this: It’s 2014; I’m fifteen years old. Her work as a media critic, public speaker, and producer who thrives at the intersection of digital culture, accessibility, and social justice helped create a new lexicon … “It’s as if the person directing the mo-cap session told the model to walk in the most seductive or sexy way possible rather than just asking her to walk the way a soldier or intergalactic bounty hunter or any ordinary woman going about her business might walk.”, Even sitting could be a gender issue, she showed. Near the start of her talk, she apologized for being sick and said it was the first time she’d been ill in two years. That’s how she set up her first request to game developers: “Avoid the Smurfette principle,” a reference to both having just one female character in an ensemble cast and the character limitations that can spring from that. Playing: Watch Dogs Legion (need to get back to RDR2, Iconoclasts, Arkham Origins, Sushi Striker, Samus Returns, and Ghost Recon Breakpoint). Sarkeesian recommended that designers of fantasy and sci-fi games put female characters in similar armor and uniforms as their male counterparts and praised Dark Souls, Natural Selection 2 and XCOM for having more practical outfits. YouTube is where I found my middle ground. She fielded one audience question from a guy who said a female Gamergate supporter had been at the talk, had shaken her head at much of what Sarkeesian had said, had left early and, this questioner wanted to know, what Sarkeesian would say to this woman. As Sarkeesian discusses how sticking mascara and earrings on a blob doesn’t make it a nuanced female character, remember that this content made some people so mad she was forced to cancel a talk at Utah State University in 2014 due to terrorist threats. For more content including uni news, reviews, entertainment, lifestyle, features and so much more,  follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved! She’s done this through a series of online videos for her non-profit, Feminist Frequency, and in lectures at conferences and even at some game studios. “So, you’ve heard of The Wonderful 101?” Sarkeesian asked her audience, as she finally got into the Eight Things Developers Can Do To Make Games Less Shitty For Women. I noted her words, about what “should be” and what “would be great” and it got me thinking again about the enthusiasm and anxiety people have about her influence. The Shuffle Generation: How The Rise Of Streaming Platforms Has…. TikTok: A New Platform For Aspiring Arts-And-Crafters? What did shock me was seeing a woman unapologetically criticise video games with authority like she’d never doubted her place in the community. When we critique violence against women, we’re often talking about violence in which women are being attacked or victimized specifically because they are women, which then reinforces or perpetuates a perception that women as victims and men as noble, brooding heroes... “Two, avoid violence against female characters in which there is a sexualized element.”, She praised BioShock Infinite’s presentation of a Columbia police force whose male and female cops wear similar uniforms. Lots of people got mad about that, and Quinn’s ex-boyfriend made an awful blog post about how they’d slept with a journalist for a positive review. Anita Sarkeesian saved me from abandoning the medium I now want to base my career on, Google Anita and the first video results are people trying desperately to disparage her. Moreover, it’s worth bearing in mind the obvious, that she’s a feminist and that her view is that men and women are perceived very differently in society. Shorter version, if you just want the list of the list of what she says are "Eight things developers can do to make games less shitty for women", paraphrased from my notes... not that a lot of this pertain to action games and probably make more sense if you're thinking about first and third-person shooters, the Arkham games, and stuff like that: “Fixing this is, of course, incredibly easy,” she said when talking about games that may have several playable protagonists but offer few, if any, who are women. “Don’t make the enemies or villains hyper-sexualized,” she said, “because again it creates a scenario in which violence against women is gendered and infused with elements of titillation. She recounted her efforts to get her parents to buy her a Game Boy. She’s blamed for ‘ruining’ every game release with a hint of a decent female characterisation since 2012. Anita Sarkeesian, 30, was raised on computers. Anita Sarkeesian (1983–) is a feminist social critic who documents sexist portrayals of women (and to a lesser extent LGBT and racial minorities) in popular media such as video games and movies.Sarkeesian runs a YouTube channel and website, both titled FeministFrequency.She is the perfect demon for Reddit to hate: woman, feminist, and not a supermodel. For the last three years, Anita Sarkeesian has been talking about how women are treated in games and has slammed the widespread sexism she sees in the portrayal of female game characters. Her dad was a networking engineer, and she spent the majority of her free time as a kid rocking a Game Boy. Test-Tube-Treat: The Future Of Lab-Grown Meat, Seasonal Specials: An Italian-English Christmas. Sarkeesian didn’t lay out those questions, but those are the ones implicit in her critique. Coronavirus: How Is The Tourism Industry Suffering? The metal detectors, and the overall heightened security presence at Sarkeesian’s talk, were impossible not to notice. And in my experience, confident creators could deal with this kind of critique, could take from it what they found productive and stand up for their authorial independence about what didn’t mesh. “It’s very much like one step forward, two steps back,” she said. Book to Film Adaptations – Is This The Same Character? She made fifteen-year-old me feel allowed to love video games, and let me ignore the men that still- to this day- try to force me out of this community. I don’t think there’s an easy answer, and it doesn’t seem to me like there’s a rule that would work across the board. Violence against female characters should never be sexy.”. It’s a tricky argument, right? Giving players more playable female characters is the first step toward female characters, like their male counterparts, being defined more by who they are rather than simply by their gender.”, What Sarkeesian was talking about sounded like a quota, because, well, it is. There’s a pre-Tropes vs. Women in Video Games clip, after all, of her introducing a video about gaming by telling a college class in 2010 that “I’m not a fan of video games. Inquiries. How do you assess which portrayals of women in games attract or repel male or female gamers? Anita Sarkeesian is the creator of the award-winning Tropes vs Women in Video Games, a critically acclaimed video series exploring the history of women’s representation in gaming that has garnered nearly 14 million views on YouTube alone. It made me determined to not let angry men take away what I loved, to not let fear ruin my enjoyment of the medium. She also kept talking, surprisingly, about how easy change in gaming could be. Wonder-Pink wears pink. She is the founder of Feminist Frequency, a website that hosts videos and commentary analyzing portrayals of women in popular culture. Anita Sarkeesian ends web series that rocked the world of gaming Anita Sarkeesian breaks down the way video games portray women as "exotic" fantasies. An NYU security guard stood in front of the audience, watchful, as she spoke. In 2012, she was introduced to a larger audience after launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new web series exploring the negative tropes surrounding women in video games. To be specific, she was describing “eight things developers can do to make games less shitty for women.”. So I’ll take a cue from my younger self and say I don’t care about being a “gamer,” but I sure do love video games. To contact the author of this post, write to or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo. 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Going through her list, she called for game developers of third-person games to “de-emphasize the rear end of female characters,” which she said after contrasting how Catwoman’s butt sways in the third-person Batman game Arkham City with how male characters like God of War’s Kratos have their butts covered by loincloths or trenchcoats. “If you asked me at the time, I would probably have said I wasn’t a gamer,” she said. Nine playable classes, none of them women. Remember, at this point I thought women simply couldn’t exist in video game communities, but here she was to prove me wrong. “It should not be too much to ask for for representations of people of color whose cultural backgrounds are acknowledged and woven into their character in ways that are honest and validating.”. She called for more body diversity in female characters, lamenting the “Victoria’s Secret catalogue” physiques of so many playable women and yearning for the kind of bodies that the male characters in the upcoming Blizzard game Overwatch have. Sarkeesian talked about how a more expansive range of female characters can open games up to new stories and experiences, but she doesn’t flat-out say that it’d make an okay game more fun. The first TvW video has 47 thousand dislikes to 15 thousand likes. I saw her trying to draw clear lines all throughout her NYU talk, and I could sense what a fraught endeavor that was. Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist cultural critic, has for months received death and rape threats from opponents of her recent work challenging the stereotypes of women in video games. I truly recommend you watch her series, and decide if it even slightly deserves the rage it whipped up. She showed Team Fortress 2. “The blue one looks cool,” she said of the women. In order to really participate, though, there’s a bit of required viewing. “The other four are similar, long legged, slender, mostly sexualized armor, high heels, lack of pants.” She contrasted that to the men. Those latter arguments clearly and directly pertain to whether a game would be more or less fun or engaging for any player, which for many gamers is the paramount gaming concern. A variation, when talking about how male and female characters animate very differently in some of the big-budget games she’s been playing: “The solution is obvious: just animate your women moving and sitting the way real women might move.”, Avoid the Smurfette principle (don't have just one female character in an ensemble cast, let alone one whose personality is more or less "girl" or "woman. Her supporters cheer the idea that her influence may transform the medium; her critics fear that. So, with that in mind here are two things to keep in mind when designing female characters. A Festive Formula: What Makes The Perfect Christmas Movie? An NYU rep told me they hadn’t set up metal detectors for any Game Center talks before. Anita Sarkeesian was one of these voices who spoke out, and thus became a very high profile target because of her previous feminist work. Anita Sarkeesian to create new series looking at masculinity in video games New, 361 comments By Ross Miller @ohnorosco Jan 26, 2015, 2:12pm EST “Because she’s the Smurfette, her personality is: girl,” Sarkeesian said. There are actually some other female characters among the 101 heroes of the Wonderful 101, but of the playable ones, only one is a woman. The animation arguments were interesting but also demonstrated Sarkeesian’s emphasis on the critique of what players see, more than what they do. In 2014, she appeared on an episode of Stephen Colbert’s The Colbert Report discussing GamerGate and gender inclusivity in video games. ), Have female characters of various body types. Introduction To Medics Sport- What’s The difference? “The ideal here,” she said, “is to design combatants who just happen to be women.”. Anita Sarkeesian is braver than any man that will ever put up content that attempts to destroy her, and I will defend her until my dying breath. She has received particular attention for her video series Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, which examines tropes in the depiction of female video game characters. In a vacuum, this might seem strange, but the idea that Sarkeesian doesn’t care much about games has been part of the narrative against her. Much of what she showed in them—the propensity for games to depict a disappointingly narrow range of female characters, of often using women in games as props to motivate players, of regularly sexualizing female characters to a comical degree—had rung true to me. Anita Sarkeesian became the target of a misogynist backlash after advocating for more diversity in video games. Image use licence here. As Sarkeesian pointed to fan-art that imagined Team Fortress 2's cast as being all women I thought about her position as an advocate. I actually had to learn a lot about video games in the process of making this.” (Correction - 8/13/16: The clip was from 2010, not 2011. In response to Sarkeesian’s thoughtful critique of games she clearly loved, the community sent her death threats, doxed her, and even sent her images of her being raped by video game characters. Of all of Sarkeesian’s requests, I could see this being viewed as the most well-intentioned but creatively stifling one—Why not sometimes have a sexy female enemy? Sarkeesian’s list of eight things included several straightforward requests. Under her breath she added: “I don’t even know if I want to say that now, but whatever.”, She said she’d “bought into the bogus myth that, in order to be a real gamer, you had to be playing GTA or Call of Duty or God of War or other testosterone-infused macho posturing games which often had a sexist, toxic culture that surrounded them. “I’m happy if she cared at all and wanted to come,” Sarkeesian said, “but I seriously doubt people from Gamergate’s intentions of coming to an event where I am speaking...I think if anyone in this audience is here for Gamergate they are not here because they genuinely care and want to learn. For speaking engagements contact Soapbox Inc.. For literary inquiries contact Inkwell Management of episodes14 Production ProducerJonathan McIntosh Release Original networkFeministFrequency YouTube Original releaseTropes vs Women in Video Games March 7, 2013 – April 27, 2017 External links Official website Production website Tropes v… Of course, I didn’t realise that the community had rejected her. Is she perfect? (And if anyone says anything about ethics in journalism, I will come wail outside your house at 3am until you start making better choices.). Video Game Adaptations: A leap of faith in ignoring non-gamers? 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It can be argued the event primarily targets a hardcore audience, but there's no escaping the way it represents video games on a global scale. Editor-in-Chief. This then introduces me to video game community at large, especially channels like The Warp Zone and Nerdcubed. Anita Sarkeesian was not so sure. Interview With Maddie Craig From ‘Familiar Strangers’ @NNT, Ancient Theatre Through Modern Eyes – Looking At Medea, Circe…. My dissertation this year is about video games. When Anita Sarkeesian launched a YouTube series on misogyny in video games, she received death threats and was forced into hiding. Jim Wilson/NYTimes/Redux S he started with a … Her list was brand new. By contrast, she praised the presentation of the female character in the new third-person game Life Is Strange. Anita Sarkeesian is a pundit, videoblogger and media critic best known as the host of Feminist Frequency, a web series in which Sarkeesian reviews and analyses common tropes in popular culture from a feminist viewpoint. (Update - 2:26pm: As a reader pointed out, a second is playable in the game’s DLC.) No changes made to this image. Video games are more important than ever before, and so is cultural criticism of them. Emily celebrates the positive impact feminist game critic Anita Sarkeesian has had on her life. One: avoid violence in which women are framed as weak or helpless. Her videos openly criticised the medium’s blatantly misogynistic tropes: The damsel in distress, female characters presented as rewards to the player, the sexualisation and objectification of women throughout most mature games… Honestly, these were problems I found in most of my media, so I wasn’t shocked by the series’ content. Occasionally, as she went through these suggestions, Sarkeesian would mention counter-arguments. “You get to be my guinea pigs,” she said as she took to the podium in front of a couple hundred developers, game design students and gamers, “to see how this all works.”. We’d e-mailed several times when I was reporting stories. First, she seemed to be challenging claims that she thinks games make people do things. The Curtain Call (Season 2) – ‘Hello World’, The Curtain Call (Season 1) – ‘I Think He Was…, ‘What Could Be Worse Than Jumping’ @ NNT Autumn Online…, Revisiting the Classics – Film Review: The Conformist, Film Review: Anthropocene: The Human Epoch – Climate Crisis Film…, Film Review: How To Start a Revolution – Climate Crisis…, Gaming Review: Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Multiplayer…, Gaming Review: Super Smash Bros. That used to be the tough one. I didn’t have to risk the online bit – the scary part where people could discover I’m a girl any minute and start calling me slut and whore when I messed up or did well- instead, I can just watch other people play! That might explain why her criticisms of gaming occupy a different spot than other people’s criticisms about, say, free-to-play game design, game length, or downloadable content. She fought back a bad cough throughout an hour-long presentation but frequently elicited applause or laughter as she spoke. Four main playable protagonists, one of them female. Many games use violence as their main means of interaction, she noted, and some developers were uneasy about if or how to put female enemies in harm’s way. They both infer a lot from her analysis of games, but at her NYU talk she left no ambiguity. Should Netflix Add A Disclaimer To ‘The Crown’? Little of this is bound to be easy, and each of her eight requests are likely to stir debate about what gamers want, what developers can or should do, and what makes for better video games that more people will enjoy playing. Record female character voiceover so that pain sounds painful, not orgasmic, Include female enemies, but don't sexualize those enemies. If you agree with her worldview, you’re likely with her on many or all of these eight things. And she rejected clothing female characters in cleavage-emphasizing armor whose “only functionality is to titillate young straight male player base.” For the latter, she said the amount of skin shown wasn’t the issue and recommended that game designers look to the outfits of real female soldiers and athletes for inspiration. Anita Sarkeesian, a respected pop-cultural critic whose series of videos under the Feminist Frequency banner critique the perceived sexism still prevalent in mainstream video games. How do you balance creators’ freedom with the need or desire to open a game up to a broader audience? “At least half of the options should be women and, really, it would be great if it was more than half the options were women, and I know some people think I’m completely loony when I say that.”. At this point I’m already scared of online gaming because female names and voices are targeted and treated… differently. 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