I haven't played hitman, so it's hard to comment but you bring up a good point Assassini that sometimes a location is appropriate to the level design and story arc of the game. It would be strange if no game ever took place in a strip club or brothel, in some ways that would even be marginalizing and making invisible professional sexworkers or exotic dancers which isn't any better. From your description it sounds as though the level used the setting for interesting design elements.
I personally think that it's too much of a first stop for game designers and can often be a bit of a lazy crutch. That Saboteur game for example felt gratuitous rather than realistic. The idea of never using these environments though seems worse to me. I think it's important that game designers consider these questions and ask themselves why they're using these elements. In that regard making these videos was good to have discussion on this point and to allow people to consider where and how it might be being overused.
I don't necessarily agree with her entirely, but they were points worth bringing up I think.
This is a fairly reasonable point that by deliberately never including strip clubs and prostitutes and the like it deliberately ignores a common, real-life situation and issue. However, it's not exactly the sort of point I'd make (mostly because it that's more about the politics of real life than within games, which doesn't interest me). As for games like the Sabateur (which I've never played), I'll admit that I suspect it's more common than I'd like that a developer will say "right we need an extra 'seedy' level, let's throw in some prostitutes". It can be a fairly unimaginative idea which will be used as filler when they run out of ideas. However, that isn't necessarily true for every situation. I'd like to bring up the example of Dishonored which has a level set within a brothel: The Black Cat. It's actually a really awesome level again, excellent design with some really cool ways of getting about and killing your intended targets. I also think that it's done almost tastefully (for want of a better word) in that there's no gratuitous nudity and it feels very much like a real place (you can sneak past prostitutes putting on make-up and complaining about customers for example). I bring it up because it's another example used by Anita Sarkeesian but is another example of a level I feel is excellent for what it was designed for, fits the world and game perfectly and arguing it's sexist and misogynist just seems to forget that it's good fun (i.e. the point of a video game).
Let's compare how many games have strip clubs featuring women vs strip clubs featuring men.
Female strip clubs/strippers:
Duke Nukem 3D & Forever
Mass Effect series
Game of Thrones
Max Payne 3
Saints Row 3
Ride to Hell: Retribution
Metro: Last Light
I think that's a fair start off the top with minimal search time. Now the flipside.
Male strip clubs/strippers:
Saints Row 3
...and that's the only one that comes to mind. And Google isn't helping much.
I'm sure it's about making sure sex workers aren't marginalized, though. Nothing to do with showing off the ladies.
Of course there is some elements of sexism within video games. While I personally think sexism within the industry is something of a non-issue and is vastly over-sensationalised by media outlets such as Kotaku (god I hate Kotaku)... It does exist, I can't deny that. However, I still think that while more and more women are playing games, it is still a male-dominated culture (or at least mainstream gaming is) and so it makes sense that developers will cater to that. It's an issue with the industry, the whole "sex sells" thing. However, of the things you mentioned I would argue that half of them are generally considered to be appalling anyway (Ride to Hell: Retribution shouldn't even be mentioned in the same breath as classics like Morrowind, and Duke Nukem forever was widely panned by everyone), others like the original Duke Nukem was largely satirical. And the remainder again simply fit within the setting and the game. GTAV for example, has a strip club and hookers within the poor district of an American city. Frankly it would be more noticeable if they were absent. And Game of Thrones... Well... It's in a medieval setting where women were considered inferior to men. Any attempts to call this misogynist simply clearly don't quite understand that there was no equality in medieval times (and it actually tends to bother me when you have those ultra-politically-correct TV shows that have to have a women within the band of heroes, just to prove that she is a strong independent women who don't need no man).
So as Shjade says, I will agree that perhaps there is an element of "because breasts" but I would also say that if we look at it from a critical point of view regarding the games, the games which are not gratuitous or overly pandering towards the audience also tend to be the ones which receive better reviews. So that takes me to argue against what Pumpkin Seeds and Caehlim are saying: i.e. we clearly are picky, because we play games which are fun and not games which throw boobs at us because they can.
Well, first I would say that the strip club analogy laid out by your own statement is a summation of what Anita Sarkeesian is referring to about a lack of creativity. That instead of seeking alternative venues and settings, the gaming industry falls back on the tried and true strip club/prostitutes/women in skimpy outfits to show a sleazy area. As for video games showing lack of creativity as a whole, I stand by my statement that writers have gotten lazy and are not producing quality storytelling. Video games rely far too much on gimmicks and tricks over substance in my opinion. Rehashed stories, plots and characters to the extent that they produce the same game over and over again are the norm at this point.
That, by your own statement once again, believe that strip clubs are where the bad things happen also shows the damage of the continuation of this myth. During the recession in the United States many out of work, professional women turned to stripping in order to feed themselves, their families and continue to pay their bills. Women with MBAs, law degrees, training and so on were taking their clothes off for money. These women are exchanging entertainment for money, not selling drugs nor having sex with people for money. Yet the stigma is reinforced through popular media. So now instead of just being women that dance and show their breasts for money, these professional women are now associated with drug dealers and gang members.
I also don’t understand trying to flip the example around as if to say “how dare we say bad things happen at gambling places.” What makes strippers so much better to single out as bad than a gambler? That in itself should make a prime example of the sexism of the gaming culture. Ok for strippers to be bad, but not gamblers.
I disagree again and can, and will if necessary, come up with many, many examples of video games which continue to push boundaries and create novel and exciting worlds all without resorting to "titillation". Your suggestion that they rely on gimmicks and rehashed plots makes me think you simply haven't been playing good games... (Apologies if that comes across as a little antagonistic, but I feel like you are lumping together a few cherry picked titles with an overwhelming array of evidence against).
As for your next statement, I can't really draw that back to Anita Sarkeesian, but I feel sort of like you are perhaps being a mite naive. It's almost like you are saying that it should be considered a noble and honest profession for one thing. I personally have absolutely no opinions on prostitution or stripping, I'm not against it, but I'm not going to go on a rally to demand it be taken seriously. To deny the connotations of crime, poverty, drugs, gangs is to clearly be looking at this through rose tinted spectacles. I'm not saying that every stripper/prostitute does so because she is being forced (via circumstances or otherwise) and I am very willing to believe there are many establishments which have excellent reputations and have women who are all doing so because it is their choice. but there is a reason stereotypes exist and that's because they have a basis in truth and fact, maybe a long distant and disappeared truth but it was there. And, bringing it back to stereotypes within video games, frankly I think that if you have to pause at the entrance of a strip club in a video game in order to read the sign that says "None of these women have been forced to work here, they are all in fact working here merely to pay their way through college so that they can all become Doctors and Lawyers" well... That's boring...
Also, it seems you may have misunderstood my point I was making about gambling. Oniya had earlier suggested a gambling "den" as a "seedy" setting for a level within a video game, in place of a strip club. And my argument was, that if we shouldn't include a strip club because that assumes that all strip clubs are bad, then we also shouldn't include any places of gambling, because that draws the assumption that all gambling is bad. Equally, if one were to use the back alleys of a poor district of a city, that would then imply that every back alley and every poor person is bad. We can't apply one standard for one setting and not for others... That's sexist because it implies that the women need special consideration.
And as Shjade pointed out - while gambling is an equal-opportunity activity (just ask any of the little-old-ladies at the slot machines), strippers are almost exclusively women. It's fine to see a socialite dripping with diamonds and furs at a craps table or a roulette wheel, but guys taking their clothes off for money? It's as rare as hens' teeth.
(So... Saints Row 3, you say? Hmmm....)
And see, I feel this sort of illustrates my point in a weird way. Because... Well... Saints Row 3 is a great game, widely considered to be fantastic and reviewed excellently.