Remix: Too Many Dicks in Video Games

March 23, 2010

This remix was inspired by Sloane’s “Star Trek Dance Floor

It is no secret that the majority of video games these days star overly muscular men often carrying big swords, guns, baseball bats, chainsaws or other phallic weaponry. Many games normalize this extremely macho form of masculinity while uncritically glorifying war or military intervention. Sadly too many games tend to celebrate grotesque displays of violence instead of providing opportunities for creative, less violent, innovative forms of conflict resolution. Today with the growing dominance of the first person shooter genre players are encouraged to really participate in the destruction, testosterone and gore up close and personal.

Not only are these games dominated by male characters but even the few women characters who do get staring roles are often made to replicate overly patriarchal, violent, macho behavior (but inside of a hyper sexualized female body). Not surprisingly the vast majority of game producers, designers and writers in the industry are still men.

To put it simply, there are just too many dicks on the dance floor!

***Note: Two games in this video I offer as examples of games that break the mold. A clip of the game Portal appears during the line “Easy to Fix”. Portal is a game employing less violent conflict resolution tactics and the protagonist is a woman (although you hardly see her during the gameplay). On the lyric “Not Enough Sisters” there is an clip of the protagonist from the dystopian future game Mirror’s Edge which also stars a woman who is not hyper-sexualized.

List of Games Used Under the Cut

List of games in order of appearance:

Halo 3
Assassin’s Creed 2
Alien vs. Predator
Modern Warfare 2
Call of Duty 4
Modern Warfare 2
Soul Caliber Broken Destiny
World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King
Battlefield Bad Company 2
Call of Duty 4
Devil May Cry 4
Resident Evil 5
Halo 3
Postal 2
Halo 3
Grand Theft Auto IV
Lego Universe
Army of Two
GTA IV: Princess Robot Bubblegum
Assassin’s Creed
GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony
Gears of War 2
Left 4 Dead 2
Soul Caliber 4
Prince of Persia
Perfect Dark Zero
Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2
Star Trek Online
Splinter Cell Conviction
Call of Duty 4
Dead Rising 2
Tekken 6
DJ Hero
XMen Origins: Wolverine
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Modern Warfare 2
Heavenly Sword
Dead Rising 2 Multiplayer
Star Wars: The Old Republic
GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony
DJ Hero
Vampire Rain
Mirror’s Edge
Bio Shock 2
Gears of War 2
Uncharted 2
Tekken 6
Dead Rising 2
Grand Theft Auto IV
GTA IV: The Ballad of Gay Tony
Devil May Cry 4
Left 4 Dead 2



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21 Responses to “Remix: Too Many Dicks in Video Games”

  1. [...] Thanks to Reel Grrls for posting a link to Anita Sarkeesian’s remixed video “Too Many Dicks.” Sarkeesian is a social justice activist and has assisted various movements in reaching out [...]

  2. [...] many misters, not enough sisters! If you enjoy the vid, drop seedling a comment on her blog. Categories: Uncategorized Tags: fanvids, Gaming, gender [...]

  3. Hi, I saw this over at Geek Feminism and wow, the editing is absolutely spectacular and, omg yesss, there are way too many dicks on the dance floor.

    brava, brava.

  4. I was reminded of this issue a bit too blatantly lately when I played Saints Row 2. On the upside, the character customization is ridiculous, and while there’s ‘male’ and ‘female’ presets, they’re just different sets of numbers on the same scales. The only thing that isn’t gender neutral with creating your character is the voice. Everything else can be tweaked to hell and back. (Wish I had a screenshot of the duckbilled girl a friend created…)

    It becomes way too obvious what audience they’re expecting, though, when my female character mentioned the gang’s new crib needing a stripper pole. There’s only a couple moments like that specific to your character, but they’re there. I mean, it’s not like I expect the game to be all that progressive, but those moments stuck out to me. (Meanwhile, in the ho-ing diversion, I got a male partner, so apparently men are straight, women are bi :/ I didn’t even get the amusing end-lines my husband did)

  5. Holy hell I’ve become completely transfixed by this thing! What an amazing job you did putting this together. Nothing proves a point like the cheeky humor you used here. Awesome job–I’m sharing the link with all my friends!

  6. I love some gory action games, like Left 4 Dead 2 (which is as much a social, cooperative experience as it is a zombie gorefest) and I know quite a few female gamers who feel the same, but it’s quite obvious that the game industry is dominated by men and has a cultural baggage of machoism.

    There is one additional factor that is worth mentioning — the mathematical roots of games. It’s easy to program physical objects colliding realistically (bullets and bodies, cars and other cars, etc) or having realistic optical properties, but very difficult to program realistic intelligent or social behavior. Of course, the reason why there’s been so little progress on AI and social behavior in games might be because of the male dominance pushing for more physics and visuals instead, but seeing how we don’t have any sophisticated AI in other areas yet it can’t be a major factor.

    This isn’t meant to defend the dominance of macho games. Even if I wasn’t a feminist I’d be against their dominance because they limit the potential of games as an artform and common human experience.

  7. [...] her motivation and list of videogames included, please go to her blog entry over at Feminist Frequency about [...]

  8. Hi there, I found this via youtube and this mix is great and your point is amazing. I posted it to my facebook page. Likely scandelizing a few people so that’s fun too.

  9. [...] NOTE: Since posting this, Rachel O and Justine have directed me to this article that reports that this game came out in 2006 and that the Western media discovered it in 2009. The article goes on to state that the makers of the game did not break any rules in Japan but decided to clean up their act after an emergency meeting was held by Japan’s Ethics Organization of Computer Software. The article claims that this game is outdated and CNN’s motives for reporting on this game are linked to another issue (see full article). Whether or not the game is outdated or out of print, the fact that this game was created, was (and possibly is being) played is disturbing, not to mention that this game was/is one of many in Japan (and in other countries) that continues to dismiss and glorify violence against women. Cleaning up potential game titles and renaming the “rape genre” doesn’t convince me that this game is not worth discussing. Unlike CNN’’s article I don’t place blame and the creators of their video games. I am analyzing the issue of violent entertainment and the portrayal of women in video games and this video game is simply the platform. For an excellent critique of hypermasculine and hyperviolent video games, see Anita Sarkeesian’s remix “Too Many Dicks.” [...]

  10. Honestly, I find your conflation of the issues here problematic.

    There is an argument to be made about the lack of female voice, role models, perspective and so on in games and how instead there is an abundance of overly-sexualised stereotypes. There is a vid to be made about these issues. There’s also a vid to be made celebrating positive examples that are to be found in games of which there are more than you’d think from such a male-dominated industry and such a relatively new media.

    Likewise, there is also an argument to be made about the glorification of violence in games (and in most visual entertainment, frankly). There’s plenty of scope for that too.

    These are not the same discussion, however, and I find your commentary here ends up coming across as general outrage because of it. It’s a shame because there’s a lot of meaningful debate going on about this subject and this doesn’t really feel like part of the conversation.

  11. I think it’s completely appropriate to be outraged at problematic and offensive images in our media landscape and if my vid comes off as such then I feel as though I have succeed. I am aware that there are conversations being had about gender and violence in video games but they are certainly not loud enough to be heard in the mainstream media and I feel like my vid is a visual and entertaining form contributing to the conversation that needs to continue. There are very, very few games that have a female protagonist that aren’t objectified sexually, additionally, most female characters strongly embody masculine/patriarchal value systems. I did LOADS of research while making this video to find positively represented female characters and they are few and far between.

  12. I really like this remix, it is hilarious. I really appreciate the appropriation of this song with its terribly problematic lyrics for the purpose of legitimate criticism.

    The juxtaposition of the lyrics, all about how “too many dicks” make it “hard to meet chicks” with an example of one (among many) male-dominate social arena (gaming) also reminds me of how so frequently there is the complaint that women don’t take part in x-aspect of our culture. But then when it is pointed out how hostile that aspect of our culture is to women, the hostility is defended as “fantasy” or “escapism” or otherwise justified.

  13. [...] The video (originally at Feminist Frequency): [...]

  14. Having not played FPS’s for some time, I recently purchased the 2000 version of Alien Versus Predator, and was annoyed by two things:

    1. On every level, each species was hell-bent on killing every other species. There is no alternative mode of interaction, despite all three being intelligent and motivated by self-preservation.

    2. The human “marine” skins are male: the Alien franchise without a female human lead? WTF?

    Can anyone tell me whether this is this is case in all subsequent AVP games?

    I like this article on the whole, but there is one problem with the soundtrack to the video: it equates “phalli” with “men.” As a queer woman, I know many women with dicks, be they strap-ons, packers, or the fleshy ones they were born with (or, in one case, a strap-on made from a mould of the one she had prior to surgery). And I don’t see any of them in video games.

  15. Loved it — made the point while giving a huge number of examples. Plus, you can dance to it. :)

  16. Brilliant. I don’t understand why YouTube have taken this down on you, ridiculous censorship! If Fred Phelps’ videos can stay up, why on earth can’t this?

    As a ‘girl gamer’ I wholeheartedly agree with your article. Thanks for the fabulous video. That long, long list of games really hammers the point home.

  17. I love this so much, I know this comment is very belated, but my friend just sent this to me and I had to smile :3 Thank you!

  18. I don’t really get why simulated graphic violence is a bad thing. Care to explain?

    On that note, portal does not feature non-violent conflict resolution, you are threatened with hilarious death on a number of occasions. Also so many companion cubes are charred to a crisp. They’re sentient you know, they just have a lot of them.

    I will agree that it does feature a kick-ass mostly female cast.

  19. [...] sentiments omitted. Inspired by Sloane’s Star Wars: Too Many Dicks, Sarkeesian created Video Games: Too Many Dicks remix video to satire the lyrics of an ironically sexist rap song by Flight of the Concords.[24] By [...]

  20. [...] anything for female attention, the unrealistically large and buoyant breasts on every woman, the hulky he-men saving every mission.  But beyond that, the overwhelmingly masculine culture of gaming leaves me vulnerable and open [...]

  21. [...] Inspiration: This remix was inspired by the practice of fan vidding and specifically by the vid Star Trek Dance Floor created by Sloane. She used the same song to point out the lack of female characters in J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek reboot. In 2010 Feminist Frequency video blogger mashed-up the same song in order to highlight the violent phallic imagery in modern video games. [...]