Five Feminist Moments in Video Games

December 17, 2014

This week, the web magazine Matter is hosting the New York Review of Video Games. I was asked to think about some of my favourite feminist moments in games, so I reached out to Carolyn Petit and we put together this short list of Five Feminist Moments in Video Games.

 

 

25 Invisible Benefits of Gaming While Male

December 2, 2014

This video is based on the article “Playing with privilege: the invisible benefits of gaming while male” written by Tropes vs Women in Video Games producer Jonathan McIntosh.

Many women have courageously spoken out about how they experience alienation and harassment in gaming. Despite this fact, too many male gamers still dismiss the issue as “no big deal” and insist that there isn’t really a problem. One of the luxuries of being a member of a privileged group is that the benefits afforded often remain invisible. This blindness allows many men, even well meaning men, to remain blissfully unaware of what roughly half of all gamers experience on a fairly regular basis. With that in mind the following is a checklist of some of the concrete benefits that male gamers automatically receive simply for being male gamers.

Please note: This list is referring primarily to straight men who are not transgender but similar lists could be created for white, straight, cis, or able-bodied privilege and there would certainly be some overlap with the conditions identified in this video.

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Anita Sarkeesian on The Colbert Report

November 2, 2014

On October 30, 2014, Anita Sarkeesian was invited to be a guest on The Colbert Report to discuss online harassment and the sexist representations of women in video games. You can watch the opening segment outlining what GamerGate is and how it’s connected to sexist harassment here.

Media Interview Link Round up for October 2014

October 23, 2014

I was invited to speak at Utah State University on Wednesday October 15th, 2014 about women’s representations in video games. Sadly, the university received a series of emails threatening to commit “the deadliest school shooting in American history” if I was allowed to speak on campus. When USU and Utah police refused to screen attendees for firearms, citing the state’s concealed carry laws, I was forced to cancel the event. Below is a round up of media interviews I have done recently speaking about the threats in Utah, the epidemic of gendered harassment online, and the larger problem of sexism within the games industry as a whole.

Print & Web

Radio

Television

 

Anita Sarkeesian speaking at XOXO Conference

October 7, 2014

In September 2014, I was invited to speak at the XOXO conference & festival in Portland. I used the opportunity to talk about two subtle forms of harassment that are commonly used to try and defame, discredit and ultimately silence women online: conspiracy theories and impersonation. (Note: trigger warning early on for examples of rape and death threats as well as blurred images of weaponized pornography).

Women as Background Decoration (Part 2)

August 25, 2014

This is the second episode exploring the Women as Background Decoration trope in video games. In this installment we expand our discussion to examine how sexualized female bodies often occupy a dual role as both sexual playthings and the perpetual victims of male violence.

The Women as Background Decoration trope which is the subset of largely insignificant non-playable female characters whose sexuality or victimhood is exploited as a way to infuse edgy, gritty or racy flavoring into game worlds. These sexually objectified female bodies are designed to function as environmental texture while titillating presumed straight male players. Sometimes they’re created to be glorified furniture but they are frequently programmed as minimally interactive sex objects to be used and abused.

In part 1 we discussed the concept of Sexual Objectification and looked at a specific subset of non-essential female characters which I classify as Non-Playable Sex Objects.

Press Image for Media Use: https://www.flickr.com/photos/anitasarkeesian/15034097635/

LINKS AND RESOURCES

ABOUT THE SERIES
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. This video series is created by Anita Sarkeesian and the project was funded by 6968 awesome backers on Kickstarter.com

GAMES REFERENCED IN THIS EPISODE

Assassin’s Creed 2 (2009)
Assassin’s Creed: Brotherhood (2010)
Bioshock (2007)
Bioshock 2 (2010)
Dead Island (2011)
Dishonored (2012)
Dragon Age: Origins (2009)
Fable 2 (2008)
Far Cry 3 (2012)
God of War 3 (2008)
Grand Theft Auto IV (2008)
Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
Hitman: Absolution (2012)
Hitman: Blood Money (2006)
Kane & Lynch (2007)
L.A. Noire (2011)
Mafia II: Joe’s Adventures (2010)
Metro: Last Light (2013)
No More Heroes (2008)
Papo & Yo (2012)
Prototype (2009)
Red Dead Redemption (2010)
Saints Row (2006)
Super Mario Galaxy 2 (2010)
The Darkness II (2012)
The Witcher (2007)
The Witcher 2 (2011)
Thief (2014)
Watch Dogs (2014)

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Women as Background Decoration (Part 1)

June 16, 2014

In this episode we explore the Women as Background Decoration trope which is the subset of largely insignificant non-playable female characters whose sexuality or victimhood is exploited as a way to infuse edgy, gritty or racy flavoring into game worlds. These sexually objectified female bodies are designed to function as environmental texture while titillating presumed straight male players. Sometimes they’re created to be glorified furniture but they are frequently programmed as minimally interactive sex objects to be used and abused.

Sexual objectification is the practice of treating or representing a human being as a thing or mere instrument to be used for another’s sexual purposes. Sexually objectified women are valued primarily for their bodies, or body parts, which are presented as existing for the pleasure and gratification of others.

Press Image for Media Use: https://www.flickr.com/photos/anitasarkeesian/14431537812/

LINKS & RESOURCES

ABOUT THE SERIES
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. This video series is created by Anita Sarkeesian and the project was funded by 6968 awesome backers on Kickstarter.com

GAMES REFERENCED IN THIS EPISODE

Out Run (1986)
Chequered Flag (1988)
Snatcher (1988)
Super Off Road (1989)
GP Rider (1990)
Rise of the Dragon (1990)
Quest for Glory II (1990)
Sunset Riders (1991)
Eliminator Boat Duel (1991)
Lucky & Wild (1992)
Cruis’n USA (1994)
Rave Racer (1995)
Need for Speed: Underground (2003)
Ridge Racer 2 (2006)
Need for Speed: ProStreet (2007)
MX vs ATV Alive (2011)
Forza Horizon (2012)
Mortal Kombat (2011)
God of War: Ghost of Sparta (2010)
Grand Theft Auto V (2013)
The Witcher 2 (2011)
Deus Ex: Human Revolution (2011)
Yakuza 4 (2011)
Hitman: Absolution (2012)
Mafia II: Joe’s Adventure (2010)
The Darkness II (2012)
Dishonored (2012)
Fallout: New Vegas (2010)
Metro: Last Light (2013)
Just Cause 2 (2010)
Sleeping Dogs (2012)
Fable II (2008)
Watch Dogs (2014)
Max Payne 3 (2012)
Far Cry 3 (2012)
Binary Domain (2012)
Shellshock: Nam ’67 (2004)
Fable: The Lost Chapters (2005)/Fable Anniversary (2014)
Grand Theft Auto 4 (2008)
The Godfather II (2009)
Mass Effect 2 (2010)
Hitman: Blood Money (2006)
Red Dead Redemption (2010)
The Saboteur (2009)
Assassin’s Creed IV (2013)
Saints Row (2006)
Bioshock Infinite: Burial at Sea (2013)
Duke Nukem 3D (1996)
Dragon Age: Origins (2009)
Fallout 3 (2008)
Saints Row: The Third (2011)
Killer is Dead (2013)

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The 2014 Game Developers Choice Ambassador Award

April 1, 2014

I’m honored to be the recipient of the 2014 Game Developers Choice Ambassador Award. The award honors an individual or individuals who have helped the game industry advance to a better place, either through facilitating a better game community from within, or by reaching outside the industry to be an advocate for video games and help further our art.

The award was presented to me by Neil Druckmann, creative director on the 2014 GDC Game of the Year, The Last of Us.

Full transcript available below.

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Ms. Male Character – Tropes vs Women

November 18, 2013

In this episode we examine the Ms. Male Character trope and briefly discuss a related pattern called the Smurfette Principle. We’ve defined the Ms. Male Character Trope as: The female version of an already established or default male character. Ms. Male Characters are defined primarily by their relationship to their male counterparts via visual properties, narrative connection or occasionally through promotional materials.

Press Image for Media Use: http://www.flickr.com/photos/anitasarkeesian/10932165865/

LINKS & RESOURCES

ABOUT THE SERIES
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. This video series is created by Anita Sarkeesian and the project was funded by 6968 awesome backers on Kickstarter.com

GAMES REFERENCED IN THIS EPISODE
Pac-Man (1980)
Crazy Otto Enhancement Kit Prototype (1981)
Ms. Pac-Man (1982)
Bubble Bobble (1986)
Adventures of Lolo (1989)
Super Monkey Ball Series
Super Monkey Ball: Banana Splitz (2012)
Where’s My Water Series
Where’s My Water: Allie’s Story (2013)
Giant Boulder of Death (2013)
Rogue Legacy (2013)
Ms. Splosion Man (2011)
Ice Climber (1985)
Sonic the Hedgehog CD (1993)
Bit.Trip Runner Series
Bit.Trip Presents Runner 2: Future Legend of Rhythm Alien (2013)
Bomberman Series
Super Bomberman 2 (1994)
Mortal Kombat Series
Super Mario Bros. Series
New Super Mario Bros. U (2012)
Bare Knuckle III (1994) [Japan only]
Super Mario All-Stars, Super Mario Bros 2 (1993)
Kirby Series
Kirby’s Return to Dreamland (2011)
Super Punch-Out!! (1994)
Scribblenauts Series
Scribblenauts Unlimited (2012)
Army Men: RTS (2002)
Left 4 Dead 2 (2009)
Sonic Lost World (2013)
Bully (2006)
Mega Man Series
Mega Man 9 (2008)
The Wonderful 101 (2013)
Gauntlet (1985)
Crazy Taxi (1999)
EarthBound (1989)
Call of Duty: Black Ops II Zombies Mode (2012)
Pac-Man 2: The New Adventures (1994)
Donkey Kong Series
Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze (anticipated 2014)
Angry Birds Series
Angry Birds (2009)
Angry Birds Seasons – Hogs and Kisses (2011)
Mario Kart Wii (2008)
Mass Effect Series
Mass Effect 3 (2012)
Thomas Was Alone (2012)
TowerFall (2013)
Knytt Underground (2012)
ScaryGirl (2012)
Ittle Dew (2013)
Lili (2012)
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Damsel in Distress (Part 3) Tropes vs Women

August 1, 2013

This is the third installment in our three part mini-series exploring the Damsel in Distress trope in video games. In this episode we examine the rare Dude in Distress role reversal and then take a look at the use of “ironic sexism” in retro inspired indie games. We conclude with an investigation of titles that attempt to subvert or deconstruct the traditional damsel narrative.

Watch The Damsel in Distress Part 1
Watch The Damsel in Distress Part 2
Watch “The Legend of the Last Princess” mini animation

For more examples of the Damsel in Distress see our Tumblr for this series: http://tropesversuswomen.tumblr.com

LINKS & RESOURCES

For more info on Ironic Sexism:

For more on gender hacks:

For more on Fat Princess:

Other links:

Some games mentioned in the video that we recommend:

Damsel in Distress Trope Series by the Numbers
Number of episodes: 3
Minutes of video analysis: 73
Games referenced: 192
Total views so far: 2.2 million

ABOUT THE SERIES
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. This video series is created by Anita Sarkeesian and the project was funded by 6968 awesome backers on Kickstarter.com

48 TOTAL GAMES REFERENCED IN THIS EPISODE
Those with Spoilers are marked with an asterisk (*)

Super Princess Peach (2006)
Balloon Kid (1990)
Kya: Dark Lineage (2003)
Primal (2003)
* Beyond Good & Evil (2003)
Aquaria (2007)
Spelunky (2012)
Donkey King: Pauline Edition (2013)
Wind Waker: Gender Pronoun Mod (2012)
Zelda Starring Zelda (2013)
Gish (2004)
* Castle Crashers (2008)
* Eversion (2008)
Machinarium (2009)
Super Meat Boy (2010)
Frobot (2010)
I Must Run (2010)
Flying Hamster (2010)
Rochard (2011)
Sideway: New York (2011)
Zack Zero (2012)
Bean’s Quest (2012)
Hotline Miami (2012)
Labyrinth Legends (2012)
Sang-Froid: Tales of Werewolves (2013)
Gunman Clive (2013)
DLC Quest (2013)
The Other Brothers (2013)
Fist Puncher (2013)
Fightback (2013)
Tiny Thief (2013)
Knightmare Tower (2013)
Guacamelee (2013)
Adventures of Lolo (1989)
Cloudberry Kingdom (2013)
Hoard (2010)
Dokuro (2012)
Fat Princess (2009)
Fez (2012)
Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP (2011)
Where is my Heart? (2011)
Rayman Origins (2011)
Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective (2011)
* Earthworm Jim (1994)
* The Secret of Monkey Island (1990)
* Braid (2008)
Thomas Was Alone (2012)
Donkey Kong (1981)

 

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