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Author Topic: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?  (Read 13643 times)

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Offline Formless

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #25 on: August 29, 2014, 05:35:19 PM »
I don't think these sort of minds need an example to how one game opposes the typical tropes. If so then there's so many games to list where there's a female character who is far from being a damsel in distress. ( Iconically , the Miang character from the Xenogears game. )

Sometimes it seems as if those who criticize the games want to rather criticize the gamer for playing such a game. Otherwise , you'd see some merit to what they wish to advocate about through their words.

Besides , there's games that treat women much much worse than a game such as GTA or Bayonetta , however you don't see Anita or any of her likes speak about them. And the reason would be because they're not AAA games ... or mainstream.

Which only shows that these people are there to talk , and talk alone.

Video games is a rich medium for more than playing , and while many developers may make the recurring mistake of injecting the same tropes into them , some other developers work to enrich the gaming experience while maintaining a remarkable neutrality. Its really no one's fault boys took a liking to video games more than girls back in the day.

Also ... I wonder what everyone would think if a GTA game with a female protagonist came out.

Offline Sabby

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #26 on: August 29, 2014, 05:40:18 PM »
Also ... I wonder what everyone would think if a GTA game with a female protagonist came out.

I wouldn't be surprised if there was a very vocal and infantile backlash, but it would be short lived.

Offline Beguile's Mistress

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #27 on: August 29, 2014, 05:43:03 PM »
I like books with protagonists who play off each other yet even what would be a D/s setting both partners are empowered to have a life, a career and a mind.  Neither is more important than the other.  I think if video games (which I don't play) portrayed heroic characters of all sexes give them similar powers and responsibilities they would see an increase in users/sales because everyone would welcome the challenge.

Offline Sabby

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #28 on: August 29, 2014, 05:47:32 PM »
I've never understood the whole "If there were more female game protagonists there would be more female gamers". The gender of the main character has never factored in for me. Is that just a thing? Do people really look at a game cover, see the opposite gender and go "Oh, I don't want to play that". That just seems... weird to me.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #29 on: August 29, 2014, 05:48:40 PM »
I did want to point out that the OP spoke about her not seeing this through a neutral lens.  The point though is a feminist critique, so the lens is already set upon by Anita when the series begins.  Obviously she is turning a perspective, the feminist one, onto video games and comic books.  Being a large part of youthful pop culture these days, those genres are an important medium for our current social views.  As for the problem of her making suggestions, that is not her job.  She is simply compiling examples to show the point of sexism in the story elements and prove that there is indeed a problem.  Considering the amount of denial feminists receive when pointing out sexism in comic books and video games, this project is actually of importance.  She is no a video game developer though, nor is she a comic book artist/writer.

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #30 on: August 29, 2014, 06:17:30 PM »
I've never understood the whole "If there were more female game protagonists there would be more female gamers". The gender of the main character has never factored in for me. Is that just a thing? Do people really look at a game cover, see the opposite gender and go "Oh, I don't want to play that". That just seems... weird to me.
Cover art sells a lot of things like books, games, movies, food.  One reason I don't play video games is that the male characters are too much like the "legend in their own mind types" so macho, muscular, snarling hulks on game covers and web pages actually turn me off.  They've actually turned me off the genre completely.

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #31 on: August 29, 2014, 06:27:59 PM »
I have always been rather confused what the ideal end goal is for Anita.  Is she trying to do away with sexism in video games?  Because supply always reflects demand, thus the issue is one among consumers than video game developers.  The developers are simply channeling their creative energies to what will sell.

Online SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #32 on: August 29, 2014, 09:55:41 PM »
Whew, lots of posts while I was at work.  Nice discussion guys, a few comments on what's been said...

The problem with this line of thinking is that violence against women is used to "further the narrative" way too often. That's why that site I linked earlier (Women In Refrigerators) already existed. It's a pervasive theme in media: women are victims.

The fact that that's pretty much reaching the point of common knowledge is why I'm not so much a fan of Anita's work, though. It feels like they call attention to things that already have that attention, at least from people willing to give it. They're not videos that seem likely to convince people of a problem existing who don't already think there's a problem; not exactly preaching to the choir, but not persuasive enough to bring the choir more members.

Right, and I agree with you in that it's too pervasive.  However, I think there's a difference in telling an artist "don't use this trope because it's too prevalent and cliched" and telling them "don't use this trope because it's degrading to X".  The first is an attempt to get the write to make a better story, while the second is potentially sabotaging the writer's efforts just to appease someone.  There's overlap, sure, but I think it's the intent beyond the criticism that matters a lot.  However, tropes are tools, they aren't inherently good or bad, and an overly used and cliched trope can still be used in a novel way to make an excellent story; that's why I never want to quash an idea just because it's offensive, but rather because it's been done too much and there's nothing novel about it being used in the new story.

Yes lets ignore the minor (huge) fact that she lied to her audience, not to mention stole other people's work rather than use the money she got from Kickstarter to make her own. Its amusing how violence against men is seen as the norm for feminists, with men being seen as faceless shooting targets. Men in video games are nothing, but objects to acted upon with no real world consequences. Even games with female protagonists or games that allow you to choose your gender, promote violence against men.

While those are likely valid criticisms (and I wouldn't mind debating them in another thread), I want to say I'm not trying to whitewash anything questionable she may have done, but rather try and keep the topic on her videos, not her publicity.  After all, dismissing the videos just because of what she's done to promote them is little more than an ad hominem fallacy.

On phone so I'll keep it brief.

Just thinking over the most recent posts re: how to have multiple characters with agency, it's kinda cheating but I'd say some jrpgs come closest to this. There's usually a main character, but several party members off ten have their own, sometimes conflicting goals in play. For all its faults (and good lord it has a lot of them), FFX makes a fair example for this with Yuna vs Tidus for the first half at least.

Snipping the rest of your point, but I agree.  I've always thought of Yuna as FF10's main protagonist, with Tidus simply being a point of view character for the audience.  (The same could be said of FF12's Ashe and Vaan, by the way.)

Quote
Just off the top of my head, because I feel like I should at least attempt contributing some kind of game mechanics concept for affording agency/plot significance beyond being a gimmick/tool for side characters (regardless of gender, really), I think timed events might be a way to go with it. I'm thinking about all those games where you have a laundry list of characters who are more or less just designed to be cash and experience vending machines with glowing !'s above their heads: quest givers, plot-movers, whatever you want to call them, particularly in games where there are heaps of these people in big hubs.

What if those quests could be completed without the player's involvement?

Maybe they won't be done as successfully, or without cost, but they still get done. The mail gets delivered, but a few minutes later than it would've if you'd done it for them. Whatever. Things get done without you if you wait too long to do them yourself. Or, as an alternative, maybe the quest-giver decides to do something else entirely, solve their problem in a completely different way. It affords developers some room to give these normally inconsequential NPCs some small leeway, something at least resembling agency, in allowing them to fend for themselves if the player's not actively pulling them into the story. And, of course, this would have repercussions further down the line, probably in the form of less goodwill toward the player, maybe even outright hostility in some cases. Maybe it changes the political landscape of the area later and you have to deal with the fallout of not having gotten in on the ground floor of that revolution you ignored.

The trick to giving non-player characters value in games is to make them important for reasons other than getting a Game Over if you fail their escort mission. Let NPCs interact with the game world the way players do, albeit on a smaller scale and off-screen. Maybe some kind of randomizing program involved so they won't always make the same choice if they're ignored, or won't always succeed at what they set out to do. Maybe sometimes the coup succeeds, sometimes it fails. Sometimes it succeeds but the leader dies and his more conservative second in command takes over - that guy who you seem to recall didn't like you very much. Maybe it fails but causes the current regime to rethink some of its policies. All of this can happen as atmosphere, setting the scene around the player, making the world more active without requiring the player's direct interference at every step along the way. It's when you hold all progress in the game world until the player intervenes that the player becomes the only entity in the world with agency.

Now I have no idea how to program my way out of a cardboard box, so I can't make anything close to a suggestion for how to make any of that work in a game, but from a big picture/drawing board/brainstorming perspective, I think that's what I'd aim for. Less D&D-style game worlds where you get a quest and set out to act on the world to complete it, more Apocalypse World where the players are just some (admittedly powerful) people in a much, much larger world that expands and breathes and lives all around them even when they're not doing anything to it themselves.

While all of that sounds awesome, it does run into the problem of requiring a massive amount of developer assets.  A lot of what we call "lazy shortcuts" are necessary to an extent in order to actually get a game made and shipped without going horrendously over-budget (it's off topic a bit, but check out what happened to Double Fine's Broken Age when they didn't have a tight handle on keeping a game from getting too much feature creep).  That being said, I think the new Everquest game promised a lot of that kind of stuff, so it might be worth checking out for ideas if it actually manages to deliver.

I did want to point out that the OP spoke about her not seeing this through a neutral lens.  The point though is a feminist critique, so the lens is already set upon by Anita when the series begins.  Obviously she is turning a perspective, the feminist one, onto video games and comic books.  Being a large part of youthful pop culture these days, those genres are an important medium for our current social views.  As for the problem of her making suggestions, that is not her job.  She is simply compiling examples to show the point of sexism in the story elements and prove that there is indeed a problem.  Considering the amount of denial feminists receive when pointing out sexism in comic books and video games, this project is actually of importance.  She is no a video game developer though, nor is she a comic book artist/writer.

Yeah, my OP was a horribly worded mess, I'll fully admit that.  However, simply laying out a problem without offering any kind of solution is rather poor activism, and if her videos are trying to serve a purpose beyond mere awareness, then she does indeed need to offer at least a few ideas for solutions.  I think if you look at her videos and compare them to a lot of videos done by the guys at Extra Credits, you can see a pretty big difference in how they talk about an issue (although I don't think EC's really tackled females in games).

Online SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #33 on: August 29, 2014, 10:49:38 PM »
So, I thought about it a bit, and if I were in Sarkeesian's shoes (and honestly trying to improve the gaming scene), here's what I would do:

I'd lay out the tropes I want to explain the most, and then start by finding a small collection of games that use those tropes, so that every trope I want to talk about is represented in at least one of the games.  (The fewer games needed, the better.)  Then, I'd pick one of the games - preferably one that exhibits the tropes I want to talk about first.  I'd play through the game, until I could understand it inside and out, and then I'd look at all the tropes I want to talk about that the game uses.  For each one, I'd find at least one good example and possibly a few more where the trope is used, and where the trope was unnecessary and could have been something different.

Finally, I'd start making the videos.  The first one would start with an explanation of the entire project, as well as naming the first game I looked at, and a few other games that I plan on looking at for later, encouraging my viewers to find out more about the game on their own (such as by playing it or watching a LP series on Youtube).  The series would then start as normal, but at the end of each trope's discussion, I'd bring in the game, show a few examples of the trope in use, and go into a detailed discussion of what the trope accomplished or failed to accomplish, and what could have been done to either remove that trope or subvert it.  (Incidentally, I'd also include more examples of the trope being used well or cleverly subverted when discussing the trope in the first place).  That would not only raise awareness of the trope - my primary goal - but also show some ideas of how it could be used otherwise, or how it could be avoided.

Offline Shjade

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #34 on: August 30, 2014, 04:40:13 AM »
So I've been thinking about this most of the day (apparently I have become a little fixated on this debacle - I had been ignoring it, as I ignore so many things, so when I finally let it be brought to my attention I ended up sorta gorging on the available material) and two things have occurred to me.

1) I sorta wish I knew Zoe and/or Anita in reality so that I could go over and offer them some hot cocoa and a hug. Holy hell, the shitstorm. I can't even.

2) Edit: actually just cutting this until I PM it to Sethala first.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2014, 04:42:41 AM by Shjade »

Online SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #35 on: August 30, 2014, 09:21:21 AM »
Unfortunately, while I think Shjade's second point would be fine, the likely replies to it wouldn't be, so I'm asking him to post it in a new thread instead.

Anyway, after thinking about it for a bit, I wanted to bring up some of the "errors" I've seen in her videos.  I'm going to mainly talk about the first "women as background decoration" video, as that's what I've seen most recently, but some of this probably applies to her other videos as well.

First, I already mentioned something about this, but I know that one of the sequences from Hitman she shows has the character attacking the girls in the dressing room.  Ignoring the fact that the area is optional, she tries to say that the player is encouraged to attack and hurt them, when in fact not only is there no incentive to doing so, but the player is actually penalized for it with a lower score.

Second, she brings up sandbox games like GTA where a player can attack a female character with almost no penalty, even if they're caught in the act.  She tries to tie this to her point by saying it "facilitates male violence against women", but there's no incentive for the player to attack a female victim over a male one, so I personally don't see any reason why this should be related to sexism or tropes "against women".

Third, and perhaps her most egregious mistake, she talks about the "third-person effect" and says that the effect means that, essentially, those who think they're immune to a mass-communicated message are in fact more likely to be affected by it.  Now, I know that Wikipedia's not always reliable, so if someone can find something more reliable that refutes this feel free to let me know, but the article on the third person effect rather clearly states in the first paragraph that the effect shows that people who perceive that a mass-communicated message affects others more than themselves will actually attempt to over-compensate for it and usually go in the opposite direction, which makes Anita's statement completely false.

Now, like I mentioned before I haven't played a lot of the games she goes over, but one thing that I found interesting from her latest video was a segment from God of War, involving Kratos shoving around and later killing a female NPC.  Anita frames this as just a helpless captive, but something about the whole sequence makes me think she's more than just a nameless character, and her death especially suggests that she, somehow, did something to deserve it.  Can anyone that's played the game and gone through that segment shed a bit more light on who that character is?

Offline Sabby

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #36 on: August 30, 2014, 09:29:28 AM »
Second, she brings up sandbox games like GTA where a player can attack a female character with almost no penalty, even if they're caught in the act.

Another thing to note is that there is a penalty. At least, in GTA4 there is. Some games (the ones on the more over the top side of things) will encourage it by keeping score, but these games are so far removed from reality that they may as well be cartoons. Going once again to GTA4, the only think you stand to gain from killing a woman is the same thing you stand to gain from killing a man, the slight chance of getting a miniscule amount of money. The 'reward' might as well not exist.

However, if a police officer see's this or a pedestrian decides to call the police on their mobile phone, cops will attempt to arrest you. You can go willingly and end the game or resist and be taken down by force. You can even attempt to silence a witness and keep them calling the police, but everything you do to cover up your act can and likely will bring more punishment down on you.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #37 on: August 30, 2014, 09:44:06 AM »
Supply does not always reflect demand, supply sometimes guides demand.  Simple put if there is only a certain type of item presented, eventually the public will want that item and then refine that item.  Look at “local cuisines” and crafts in certain areas.  People had only seafood to work with and so their demand for seafood was affected by the lack of supply elsewhere.  So supply dictated their demand.  Here the same thing can be said to exist as people run across sexist story arcs and activities.  So inundated with the imagery, the bravado and the familiar stories the people simply continue to buy into the trend.

Why would someone drawing attention to a problem need to present more than a simple solution?  She repeatedly states that the writers and developers of these pop mediums need to develop more complex stories and she does indeed give some basic examples.  She is drawing larger attention to a problem by using social media, blogs and youtube services.  Her end goal and point is to increase awareness, encourage greater demand for female centric stories and hopefully encourage discussion and thought on these issues.  A forum such as this one is probably what she would hope to see happen.

As for the background decoration argument with the strippers, there are other ways to encourage players to perform tasks than a score.  Sounds that attract a player to the action, images that are appealing or unique to this particular scene can all encourage the act.  If this particular area offers something visually stimulating to do, then players are encouraged to do that act and experience this stimulation. 

As for GTA she may be referring to the hooker situation where someone could solicit a hooker, gain back their health and then kill them to get their money back.  That would be an incentive to kill female characters.

As for the third perfect effect, she is probably referring to a psychology notion rather than mass media notion. 

Persuasive experiments

"So pervasive is this feeling that only ‘other’ people are influenced by things like adverts that many studies have explored the idea, with an initial surge in the 1980s and 90s. Psychologists wanted to see how much people thought they were influenced by persuasive messages like adverts and compare it with actual attitude changes, if any.

Typically these studies first got participants to watch an advert, read a newspaper article or other medium containing a persuasive message. Then they were asked how much it had influenced them and how much it might influence other people. Since the experimenters measured actual persuasion and knew from previous research how influential the messages were, they could compare people’s guesses with reality.

What they found, in study after study, was that participants thought others would be influenced by the message, but that they themselves would remain unaffected. When psychologists looked at the results, though, it was clear that participants were just as influenced as other people. This was dubbed the ‘third-person effect’."

http://www.spring.org.uk/2010/08/persuasion-the-third-person-effect.php

Online SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #38 on: August 30, 2014, 09:50:59 AM »
As for GTA she may be referring to the hooker situation where someone could solicit a hooker, gain back their health and then kill them to get their money back.  That would be an incentive to kill female characters.

Apologies, not enough time before work to respond to your other points, but I have a question for people who have played GTA: do you get more money from killing a hooker that's taken money from you than killing one that you haven't paid yet, and are there other NPCs in the world that act the same way (i.e. give back what you gave them if you kill them after giving them something)?

Offline Sabby

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #39 on: August 30, 2014, 09:55:11 AM »
Apologies, not enough time before work to respond to your other points, but I have a question for people who have played GTA: do you get more money from killing a hooker that's taken money from you than killing one that you haven't paid yet, and are there other NPCs in the world that act the same way (i.e. give back what you gave them if you kill them after giving them something)?

You do not. Prostitutes cost a flat rate, killed pedestrians have a random chance to drop money, and it's usually a very small amount. Anyone trying to get their money back in this way are just going to get arrested or killed. This is one of the oldest sensationalist anti-game arguments out there, right up with there with 'score extra points by killing cops' and 'power up by using cocaine'. It wasn't true when it was reported and it's not true now. The GTA games and most games in general do provide consequences for 'bad' actions, and the only times a morally suspect alternate path to success is presented is in games where choice is a constant theme and your character is defined by these choices. If a game does say "Hey, you can win by doing this bad thing instead" that choice will none the less have a lasting effect on the player.
« Last Edit: August 30, 2014, 10:05:18 AM by Sabby »

Offline Valthazar

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #40 on: August 30, 2014, 10:15:29 AM »
Supply does not always reflect demand, supply sometimes guides demand.  Simple put if there is only a certain type of item presented, eventually the public will want that item and then refine that item.  Look at “local cuisines” and crafts in certain areas.  People had only seafood to work with and so their demand for seafood was affected by the lack of supply elsewhere.  So supply dictated their demand.  Here the same thing can be said to exist as people run across sexist story arcs and activities.  So inundated with the imagery, the bravado and the familiar stories the people simply continue to buy into the trend.

You seem to be suggesting that we've unfortunately made the transition to a supply side economy, where economic development is concentrated and controlled by a few.  There certainty is valid argument for that, though I also think it's more a perceptual assumption as well.

A lot of people unfortunately only view themselves as employees, and the thought of creating their own products never crosses their mind.  No business has any obligation of changing the nature of their products, unless any applicable regulations.

One of my students was actually complaining to me about how Planet Fitness isn't a "real" gym because they don't have a squat rack - as if they had some sort of obligation to cater to fitness enthusiasts.  Clearly, their business plan is working just fine as is, but he's the type of guy who always views himself as a consumer and employee, so when I suggested that he buy a used rack for $400 and charge membership fees for his buddies at the college to use it for a membership fee per month, he was overwhelmed to say the least.

I see this a lot from college students where I teach.  I think it's truly a result of how we conduct education in K-12 in the US.

It's easy to make computer games these days.  Just look at Spintires (a favorite game of mine that was made on a kickstarter budget by 1 guy!) which is now a bestseller on Steam!  It catered to a niche that was in demand (just like the anti-sexism niche, as many claim.)

Edit : typo
« Last Edit: August 30, 2014, 10:55:01 AM by Valthazar »

Offline Euron Greyjoy

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #41 on: August 30, 2014, 01:23:51 PM »
While not necessarily about her videos, this goes to disprove her credibility. Apparently a troll has driven her out of her house, but this would prove otherwise. Am I the only one who finds it interesting  that all this supposedly happened, the day before she made a video asking for more money?


Offline Oniya

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Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #42 on: August 30, 2014, 01:26:21 PM »
I'd like to keep this discussion on the topic of the videos themselves.  Thus, I'm going to ask that no one bring up issues related to trolls against her, what she's actually done with the kickstarter money, whether or not she was a "gamer" before this series came out, where she got her footage and art assets from, or any other "controversies" about Anita herself.  I think that some of those topics can be an interesting discussion on their own, and if someone else wants to make a new thread to discuss them or chat about it over PMs that's perfectly fine, but let's keep it out of this thread.

Please respect the topic of discussion.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #43 on: August 30, 2014, 05:58:20 PM »
Development of large scale, pop culture games is controlled by a few almost by definition.  This is the sole focus of the woman’s critique as she is focusing on large, big name games that are sold by millions to a mass audience.  Such games also have cultural impacts on society at large in the way Mario has lasted with people for generations; GTA continues to resonate with audiences and so on.  These are not simply video games she is making reference to but cultural cornerstones in pop culture.  Such games and products are produced by a select few companies.  Indeed she is making a plea to these companies to develop more female centered stories because these companies have a direct share in that pop culture of video games and comic books.  A case in point may be the new Tomb Raider video game.

The new Lara Croft is far more feminine in appearance than her previous incarnation with a more realistic body shape and honestly a more realistic character.  She is a strong woman and the story is nearly focused on her entirely.  To be honest after playing the game I really felt proud to be a woman because finally I found a character that I would be happy for my daughter, if I had one, to really associate with in the video game world.  Lara Croft was featured on many posters and on video game covers despite criticism that women on covers do not sell video games.  Square Enix showed that there is a market for a well-made, well produced, well developed female lead.  The game sold very well and there hasn’t been anything since, even from Square Enix.

So the game showed that not only is there a market for this story and an interest, but that these games would be economically viable.  Still the market has not produced stories that have a similar focus on a lead woman.  Another example in the opposite is the clamoring people have made for a Wonder Woman movie or show.  An icon of female liberation, Wonder Woman could easily have gained DC an edge in the movie or television medium where their company is doing poorly.  Instead, despite multiple criticism to both Marvel and DC showing a desire for this sort of movie, DC regulates Wonder Woman to a third wheel in a Batman and Superman movie.  So despite a vocal demand, DC has cut the supply.

Offline Shjade

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #44 on: August 31, 2014, 12:19:55 AM »
The new Lara Croft is far more feminine in appearance than her previous incarnation with a more realistic body shape and honestly a more realistic character.  She is a strong woman and the story is nearly focused on her entirely.  To be honest after playing the game I really felt proud to be a woman because finally I found a character that I would be happy for my daughter, if I had one, to really associate with in the video game world.  Lara Croft was featured on many posters and on video game covers despite criticism that women on covers do not sell video games.  Square Enix showed that there is a market for a well-made, well produced, well developed female lead.  The game sold very well and there hasn’t been anything since, even from Square Enix.
On the other hand, Lara Croft is also brutalized in far more graphic fashion than in her previous games. Heck, just search for a youtube clip compilation of all the death scenes from the new Lara Croft game. It's cringe-worthy.

Considering how Anita seems to prioritize treatment of women in games, I'm not sure she'd consider the new Tomb Raider a positive example.

Regarding your earlier post: you're right, she isn't in a position where she needs to provide more than examples and attempt a simple solution. However, considering the kind of project she appears to be constructing, it seems to me that only providing examples and a simple solution is aiming fairly low. Anyone can post together a clip show of women being exploited in games (and people have; I know I've read articles on the subject long before Anita was a thing), which just leaves me wondering why this project should be getting any special attention - positive or negative. It just seems sorta...shallow I guess is the word I have to settle for.

Drawing attention to the issue is a good thing. I just wish she were telling me anything I didn't already know/hadn't already seen/heard before. It's possible I'm not her target audience, but that just leaves me wondering who is.

Online SethalaTopic starter

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #45 on: August 31, 2014, 12:36:15 AM »
Why would someone drawing attention to a problem need to present more than a simple solution?  She repeatedly states that the writers and developers of these pop mediums need to develop more complex stories and she does indeed give some basic examples.  She is drawing larger attention to a problem by using social media, blogs and youtube services.  Her end goal and point is to increase awareness, encourage greater demand for female centric stories and hopefully encourage discussion and thought on these issues.  A forum such as this one is probably what she would hope to see happen.

No, but offering some kind of solution is a significant help when you're trying to accomplish a goal.  If all she's doing this for is simple awareness, that's fine, though her videos really drag on for a very long time if it's "only" about awareness (the damsel in distress trope alone got three videos totaling over an hour, yet all I really walked away from them with was "there's a lot of examples of damsels in distress, if you're looking for them", for instance).

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As for the background decoration argument with the strippers, there are other ways to encourage players to perform tasks than a score.  Sounds that attract a player to the action, images that are appealing or unique to this particular scene can all encourage the act.  If this particular area offers something visually stimulating to do, then players are encouraged to do that act and experience this stimulation. 

As for GTA she may be referring to the hooker situation where someone could solicit a hooker, gain back their health and then kill them to get their money back.  That would be an incentive to kill female characters.

True, the player can be encouraged to go and see the strippers for a variety of reasons.  However, there's a pretty big leap to go from "the player can explore and see half-naked women" to "the player is encouraged to attack the strippers", and if such a stretch is warranted, I don't think Anita's video does a very good job of explaining why that is the case, so her argument is substantially weaker than it could have been if that is true (and is horribly dishonest if it's not true).  Ultimately, if the developers wanted to prevent violence against women specifically - and note that violence against the strippers is no more encouraged or discouraged than violence against any other bystander NPC - they would have had to either make the strippers immune to attack (which is glaringly immersion-breaking), or not include them (which is its own can of worms, but it boils down to why they wanted to include them and if doing so is worth potentially offending a subset of their audience).

As for the GTA thing, assuming Sabby's correct, it's simply not true.

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As for the third perfect effect, she is probably referring to a psychology notion rather than mass media notion.  [snip]

Truncating the quote because, after re-reading my own link and realizing I misread some things in it, I think you're completely right.  I'll bring the point up again if I find anything else noteworthy, as there were a few things I didn't understand in the wikipedia article (though it may have just been because wikipedia).

While not necessarily about her videos...

The short answer to this is, then don't post it here.

The long answer is, what you posted does have some merits worth debating, and if you wanted to make a new thread about it, feel free and I'll happily join in to discuss.  However, I know that discussion of this particular topic will be very likely to derail the conversation about the videos themselves, so I'm cutting it out here.

Development of large scale, pop culture games is controlled by a few almost by definition.  This is the sole focus of the woman’s critique as she is focusing on large, big name games that are sold by millions to a mass audience.  Such games also have cultural impacts on society at large in the way Mario has lasted with people for generations; GTA continues to resonate with audiences and so on.  These are not simply video games she is making reference to but cultural cornerstones in pop culture.  Such games and products are produced by a select few companies.  Indeed she is making a plea to these companies to develop more female centered stories because these companies have a direct share in that pop culture of video games and comic books.  A case in point may be the new Tomb Raider video game.

The new Lara Croft is far more feminine in appearance than her previous incarnation with a more realistic body shape and honestly a more realistic character.  She is a strong woman and the story is nearly focused on her entirely.  To be honest after playing the game I really felt proud to be a woman because finally I found a character that I would be happy for my daughter, if I had one, to really associate with in the video game world.  Lara Croft was featured on many posters and on video game covers despite criticism that women on covers do not sell video games.  Square Enix showed that there is a market for a well-made, well produced, well developed female lead.  The game sold very well and there hasn’t been anything since, even from Square Enix.

So the game showed that not only is there a market for this story and an interest, but that these games would be economically viable.  Still the market has not produced stories that have a similar focus on a lead woman.  Another example in the opposite is the clamoring people have made for a Wonder Woman movie or show.  An icon of female liberation, Wonder Woman could easily have gained DC an edge in the movie or television medium where their company is doing poorly.  Instead, despite multiple criticism to both Marvel and DC showing a desire for this sort of movie, DC regulates Wonder Woman to a third wheel in a Batman and Superman movie.  So despite a vocal demand, DC has cut the supply.

While I'm not going to jump into the supply/demand part of your argument, I will agree that most media industries in general need more strong female leads.  On the note of Tomb Raider however, I know some people got offended at the rape attempt scene in the game.  Honestly, even if it offends someone (heck, even if it offends me), as long as the scene serves purpose in the game, I see no problem with including it.  Haven't played the game yet myself (though it is on my radar, thanks to Playstation Plus giving it to me free), but from what I understand, it's used as part of the narrative for the antagonist's personality, so it seems valid enough to include it.

Offline ImaginedScenes

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #46 on: August 31, 2014, 12:42:28 AM »
Right. No problem with pointing out things that might be troubling about games or movies or whatever, yeah? But it's a different thing to go looking for problems and talk about them like they're everywhere. Cherry-picking is never a good thing. That's why a lot of people are angry about her videos. Makes gamers seem like women haters who enjoy the negative things connected to women in games. A more honest person would make it clear how uncommon or common each thing really is across the whole spectrum of games available.

Personally I don't like that she only focuses on things about women. The whole idea of defending only one group at a time is a big stupid thing in America. Good criticism criticizes all flaws in a product. A game that is terrible all around might look like it's only horrible to women if you ignore everything else.

There are many problems with gaming and films. The biggest one is that they recycle ideas that are only surface-deep. Many of the tropes that are negative against women and negative against men are symptoms of that bigger problem. Anita and many other critics treat games like the only problems that exist are against women and come from deep misogynism in gamers and game designers. That's bollocks.

Offline consortium11

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #47 on: August 31, 2014, 04:00:53 AM »
Rockstar, for example, fill their game worlds with characters who have their own story arcs that have little or no immediate benefit to the gamer. GTA4, Red Dead Redemption and their expansion packs have multiple groups of people whose stories intersect with the playable characters in much the same way that multiple real people would. You're still seeing all this from the inherently self centered perspective of one human with their own objectives, but you're still witnessing people and stories that appear to exist irregardless of you. If you had never come by, these stories would have happened without you. You are not the center of this world.

Those two games strike me as staggeringly bad examples of this.

Both GTAIV and RDR have a day night cycle right (that's not a disingenuous question... I recall them doing so but I haven't played either for a while)? So let's do a little experiment. As soon as you get control of the protagonist, stop. Do nothing. Wait as in-game time passes. Minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, hell, years if you've got the patience. Then go off and play the game.

What's different to if you'd started playing the game immediately?

Nothing as far as I can recall.

Far from the stories having happened without you and you not being the centre of the world all of those other characters are held in a state of suspended animation until you arrive at which point they can do their narrative demanded song and dance. They're the equivalent of a Disney theme park-style animatronic figure, waiting for someone to come along and push a button so they can do their little action and then return to a state of inactivity.

This is the sole focus of the woman’s critique as she is focusing on large, big name games that are sold by millions to a mass audience.  Such games also have cultural impacts on society at large in the way Mario has lasted with people for generations; GTA continues to resonate with audiences and so on.  These are not simply video games she is making reference to but cultural cornerstones in pop culture.  Such games and products are produced by a select few companies.  Indeed she is making a plea to these companies to develop more female centered stories because these companies have a direct share in that pop culture of video games and comic books.

Do the likes of The Bouncer, Rygar: The Legendary Adventure, Maximo: Ghosts to Glory, Will Rock, The Void, Child of Eden, Psychonauts, Ico, Pandora's Tower, Outlaws or Inversion really count as large, big name games that are sold by millions to a mass audience? Because that's a selection of the games she highlights/features in simply the second part of the Damsel in Distress series. Later on she explicitly focuses on Indy games... and while the big names are mentioned (Fez, Super Meatboy, Braid etc) there's also the likes of Flying Hamster, Rochard, Zack Zero, Sideway: New York, Bean's Quest, Gunman Clive, DLC Quest, The Other Brothers, Fist Puncher and Knightmare Tower.

A case in point may be the new Tomb Raider video game.

The new Lara Croft is far more feminine in appearance than her previous incarnation with a more realistic body shape and honestly a more realistic character.  She is a strong woman and the story is nearly focused on her entirely.  To be honest after playing the game I really felt proud to be a woman because finally I found a character that I would be happy for my daughter, if I had one, to really associate with in the video game world.  Lara Croft was featured on many posters and on video game covers despite criticism that women on covers do not sell video games.  Square Enix showed that there is a market for a well-made, well produced, well developed female lead.  The game sold very well and there hasn’t been anything since, even from Square Enix.

I'm not sure the bolded part is that simple. While the game eventually hit sales expectations it took a long time to make it there and needed extensive discounts combined with re-releases on the next-gen consoles to make it; on release is was considered a high profile flop and an example of the bloated budgets AAA games work with. I'm also not quite sure it's fair to use the example of one off the biggest icons in gaming as an example that female-fronted titles can sell well and apply it to the wider whole... using that example you could argue that games fronted by an Italian plumber are going to sell well but outside of Mario, do they?

On a side note, considering the exploitative violence against Lara within the game (notably the psuedo-rape threat that formed a major part of its marketing/hype) and the fact that the main plot is basically the sort of damsel in distress scenario Sarkeesian's spent three videos decrying, I don't think it's really the sort of video game she'd like or hold up as a counter to the points she makes.





Much like Shjade, I appear to have spent far too much time thinking about this.

Which is strange in some ways as I largely agree with Sarkeesian on damsels in distress, albeit from a different perspective. She views it as part of the wider misuse of women in video games, I view it as part of the wider lazy, poor writing in video games. Poor writing's long been a hate of mine in the industry as anyone who can recall me posting about Fallout 3 can attest so, while our routes there may be different, our conclusions are roughly the same. But I don't agree with her analysis.

Why is that?

Well, having spent too much time thinking about it, I think I understand.

Because to me, the damsels piece shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of agency (one of her big issues with damsels in distress) in video games.

Of course, in pretty much all video games agency for the characters is an illusion. They're fictional, not sentient beings who do what the writer tells them to do. On that level none of them have agency. But reverting back to that is somewhat of a cop-out answer.

But even if we get past that point, what agency is there?

The stereotypical view is that the protagonist character has more agency than non-protagonists and it appears to make sense. After all, the player controls the protagonist and they can decide what they do while the non-protagonists are simply tools of the narrative. But is that actually true?

Take God of War, an example she lists of the damsel in distress/fridging trope combination. The protagonist gets to play Kratos, the ultra-badass death dealing war machine who on paper should be the epitome of agency. But does he have any? What happens if I don't want him to gain his revenge on Ares or the other Gods? What happens if I want him to go off to Persia and be a mercenary? What happens if I want him to give up his life of violence and become a farmer? I can't. The narrative demands that he goes through the linear storyline going to the locations the narrative demands I go to and killing the enemies the narrative demands I do. Kratos, for all his in-game power and protagonist status is still a slave of the narrative in the same way that every other character in the game is. The agency there is an illusion... would we say a puppet having its strings jerked (the protagonist) has agency while a puppet with untouched strings (the damsel) doesn't? Neither actually have agency... one just gets to look like they do.

Certain games, notably sandbox ones (be they Oblivion/Skyrim style RPGs or GTA style adventures) somewhat get around this; if I wanted to in Skyrim one could make their living as an itinerant farmhand, traveling the region being paid for collecting crops without any thought of dragons. One could be a hunter, making their living shooting foxes and deer without even considering hunting into ruins. While the economic system makes it difficult, one could make their living as a craftsman, using raw materials to make more expensive products which they then sell. Playing that way may not be the most rewarding of games but it is allowed. Now, such games have their own issues... as mentioned above with regards to GTA while the main character may have agency every other character is little more than a moving statue; to use Skyrim as an example, until the protagonist reaches a certain stage the world remains entirely the same... dragons with never rise, the civil war will never end etc etc... no matter how much time passes.

Protagonist characters in video games rarely have agency. To compare and contrast them with "damsels" who likewise don't have agency is to miss the point.


Offline Sabby

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #48 on: August 31, 2014, 04:19:38 AM »
Those two games strike me as staggeringly bad examples of this.

Both GTAIV and RDR have a day night cycle right (that's not a disingenuous question... I recall them doing so but I haven't played either for a while)? So let's do a little experiment. As soon as you get control of the protagonist, stop. Do nothing. Wait as in-game time passes. Minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, hell, years if you've got the patience. Then go off and play the game.

What's different to if you'd started playing the game immediately?

Nothing as far as I can recall.

Far from the stories having happened without you and you not being the centre of the world all of those other characters are held in a state of suspended animation until you arrive at which point they can do their narrative demanded song and dance. They're the equivalent of a Disney theme park-style animatronic figure, waiting for someone to come along and push a button so they can do their little action and then return to a state of inactivity.

You have to remember that a game is always going to look like a deterministic dilemma if we break it down to a purely mechanical level. I could have used another example where the actual mechanics of the game function regardless of the player, like Skyrim or Animal Crossing, but I chose not to use those because, while functionally they are independent of you, they are also very clunky and primitive in what they can achieve without the player. I used Rockstar games as an example because a game is an illusion. With GTA4 and RDR, you are given the illusion that these side stories happen independently of the main story, and you often get to see them from different perspectives in different points in time, once again enforcing an illusion that there is a world here moving forward independent of you.

Yes, if we want to be technical, this isn't true, but it's still the illusion that it throws up for us, and I think it's completely valid to take that illusion at face value when evaluating the worth and complexity of a game.

As for Tomb, I've never understood why people consider her to be a DiD in the newer game. She doesn't fit that trope at all.

Offline consortium11

Re: Thoughts on Anita Sarkeesian's videos?
« Reply #49 on: August 31, 2014, 06:46:13 AM »
You have to remember that a game is always going to look like a deterministic dilemma if we break it down to a purely mechanical level. I could have used another example where the actual mechanics of the game function regardless of the player, like Skyrim or Animal Crossing, but I chose not to use those because, while functionally they are independent of you, they are also very clunky and primitive in what they can achieve without the player. I used Rockstar games as an example because a game is an illusion. With GTA4 and RDR, you are given the illusion that these side stories happen independently of the main story, and you often get to see them from different perspectives in different points in time, once again enforcing an illusion that there is a world here moving forward independent of you.

Yes, if we want to be technical, this isn't true, but it's still the illusion that it throws up for us, and I think it's completely valid to take that illusion at face value when evaluating the worth and complexity of a game.

Skyrim doesn't work either... however long you wait more Dragons don't return, the Civil War doesn't end and every other narrative point doesn't progress until you allow them to. Relatively meaningless NPC's (often without a name) may move around and occasionally die but every event and character of importance doesn't change or progress until you come along to let them.

Dead Rising (at least the first one, I haven't played the subsequent games) did allow the story to progress without you... but it's one of the few.

As for Tomb, I've never understood why people consider her to be a DiD in the newer game. She doesn't fit that trope at all.

The Sam character plays the classic damsel in distress; she's kidnapped relatively early in the game and the rest of the story is about rescuing her. Lara may not play it frequently (although there are a few times when she's saved by the input of others) but the overall plot is heavily reliant on a damsel.