But I didn’t see all that till much later. (And if anyone says anything about ethics in journalism, I will come wail outside your house at 3am until you start making better choices.). 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. She said she’d spoken with “well-meaning” game developers about how to handle female enemies. 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 saw a woman loving gaming, and it made me realise that I had a place in gaming too. “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. Anita Sarkeesian was not so sure. It doesn’t help that Sarkeesian was one of the strongest voices behind #GamerGate. Occasionally, as she went through these suggestions, Sarkeesian would mention counter-arguments. I saw, as cliché as it is, that I was not alone. Welfare In Sport: Campaigning For Mental Health In UoN Sport, Sports Society Spotlight: UoN Thai Boxing, It’s always fight week- MMA Saturday 7th Dec 2019, Interview With The ACS For Black History Month, Nottingham Forest 1-2 Bristol City: Lamouchi On The Brink Of Exit, The Shuffle Generation: How The Rise Of Streaming Platforms Has Influenced The Creation Of Music. “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.”. 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. “The male characters get to be short and stocky or heft gorillas or equipped with a massive power suit. Again, I repeat: Suddenly, the problem wasn’t me. Would it be bad to have more playable female characters? 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. To contact the author of this post, write to stephentotilo@kotaku.com or find him on Twitter @stephentotilo. 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. “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.”. Picture this: It’s 2014; I’m fifteen years old. News by Chris Bratt, Contributor An NYU security guard stood in front of the audience, watchful, as she spoke. In this video series, Feminist Frequency will explore five common and recurring stereotypes of female characters in video games 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. Anita Sarkeesian, 30, was raised on computers. She is the founder of Feminist Frequency, a website that hosts videos and commentary analyzing portrayals of women in popular culture. 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. It seemed like a subset to another argument about female character animation. In order to really participate, though, there’s a bit of required viewing. 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. That used to be the question a video game. She recounted her efforts to get her parents to buy her a Game Boy. Minutes after I walked through a metal detector—and some time before she was flocked by well-wishers at the best-attended gaming lecture I’ve ever been to at New York University—I recently listened to the media critic Anita Sarkeesian describe eight things she’d like to see changed in video games. Anita Sarkeesian’s age is 37. For speaking engagements contact Soapbox Inc.. For literary inquiries contact Inkwell Management I’d previously reported about a bomb threat against Sarkeesian’s GDC acceptance speech nearly a year prior. But screw all that; here was another woman who enjoyed gaming enough to analyse it, and demand better from it. There’s a part of me that wants to give up on gaming, even though enjoy it so much. In the middle of this tension, Anita Sarkeesian introduced a Kickstarter campaign for her Youtube series, Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, that points out … 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. In her intro video she’s worried about her makeup. 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. If not, well, you’re unlikely to see much here you can back. I heard a few attendees mutter about this being necessary or finding it absurd that a talk about women in gaming, of all things, required this kind of presence. Even more surprising? So, I thought I’d take the time to explain what Sarkeesian’s series did for me, and why I am so grateful for her sacrifice. 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. 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. Book to Film Adaptations – Is This The Same Character? In 2014, she appeared on an episode of Stephen Colbert’s The Colbert Report discussing GamerGate and gender inclusivity in video games. She made me re-evaluate things I’d just accepted as part of being a gamer; she challenged me to not just accept the status quo in this medium I so adore. “Motion capture and animations for female characters often have them looking like they’re walking down a runway at a fashion show,” she said. 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. The Among Us Phenomenon – Why Is It So Popular? 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. Anita Sarkeesian saved me from abandoning the medium I now want to base my career on. In fact, the vast majority of readers will probably be thinking to themselves how late to this particular party we happen to be; and while that may be true, it’s still fresh enough to discuss, and especially in a tone which hasn’t been used. By contrast, she praised the presentation of the female character in the new third-person game Life Is Strange. Record female character voiceover so that pain sounds painful, not orgasmic, Include female enemies, but don't sexualize those enemies. They are all color-coded. It made me determined to not let angry men take away what I loved, to not let fear ruin my enjoyment of the medium. At the same time I was trying to find my place within the video game community, a woman speaking up about games’ misogynistic tendencies was being threatened with violence near-constantly. “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. 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. She said that she knew that some people didn’t consider those “real” games but that she counted them as some of her favorites. What did shock me was seeing a woman unapologetically criticise video games with authority like she’d never doubted her place in the community. Blogger, YouTuber, and media critic best known as the mind behind the Feminist Frequency blog and YouTube channel. 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. We’d e-mailed several times when I was reporting stories. Introduction To Medics Sport- What’s The difference? She spelled out what she wants to see done, what she thinks game developers should think about doing differently. Why must she be perfect to simply criticise video games? When the female character sits, she lays on the side of her legs. If you’ve got a project or speaking event you think I’d be a good fit for please reach out! Is ‘I’m A Celeb’ Bad For The Environment? I had attended Sarkeesian’s NYU talk because I wanted to hear her outside of the pre-recorded Tropes Vs. Women In Video Games that she’s been making for the last couple of years. ), Have female characters of various body types. You just don’t see anything approaching this variety of body types in weights and sizes with female characters.”, She pushed for more representation of women of color in games, and more that are neither reducing such women to ethnic stereotypes nor so divorced from their cultural history that it “is eased or invisible.” She praised Never Alone, a game featuring a female character from an Alaskan tribe. She ran clips of how male and female characters sit in Destiny, a game that imbues its heroes of either gender with the same capabilities. An NYU rep told me they hadn’t set up metal detectors for any Game Center talks before. 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. YouTube is where I found my middle ground. 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. Emily celebrates the positive impact feminist game critic Anita Sarkeesian has had on her life. “The other four are similar, long legged, slender, mostly sexualized armor, high heels, lack of pants.” She contrasted that to the men. Feminist Frequency is raising funds for Tropes vs. Women in Video Games on Kickstarter! I also learnt that the problem with games wasn’t me. Media can inspire greatness and challenge the status quo or sadly, more often, it can demoralize and reinforce systems of power and privilege and oppression.”, And, second, it seemed to me she was being careful to clarify whether she loves games. Playing: Watch Dogs Legion (need to get back to RDR2, Iconoclasts, Arkham Origins, Sushi Striker, Samus Returns, and Ghost Recon Breakpoint). Among Us With AOC: Politics and Games Done Right. 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. The metal detectors, and the overall heightened security presence at Sarkeesian’s talk, were impossible not to notice. Arguments about the depiction of women, however, will find a sympathetic ear among those who, like Sarkeesian, believe that less sexualized and more diverse presentations of women will make games more approachable—more fun—for more people. Sarkeesian mentioned her time in grad school, which I believe was the same time she was saying in that clip that she wasn’t a fan of games. 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. 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So even though I was playing a lot of games—these kinds of games—I still refused to call myself a gamer, which I don’t think is uncommon.”, She would later emphasize the idea that “you can love something and be critical of it.” That, she said, “is so important to what I do and is really important to engaging with any kind of pop culture.”. Talk of gameplay brought Sarkeesian to her final point. "How long is your game?" 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. The list was a surprise—not really for its content but for its explicit charge for change. Also, like the Impact Entertainment Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved. Anita Sarkeesian: Faith from Mirror's Edge and Jade from Beyond Good and Evil are two of my all time favourite female characters. Gamers are obviously debating this. Her list was brand new. She talks about issues that she feels have been entrenched in games but go under-discussed. Remember, at this point I thought women simply couldn’t exist in video game communities, but here she was to prove me wrong. 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. 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. Jim Wilson/NYTimes/Redux S he started with a … 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. This article is a thank you note to Anita Sarkeesian. Sarkeesian is an advocate. From what I've seen of it, The Puppeteer is a delightful upcoming PlayStation 3 game starring a boy. I’d seen most of her Tropes gaming videos, of course, and, frankly, not had much issue with them. When Anita Sarkeesian launched a YouTube series on misogyny in video games, she received death threats and was forced into hiding. Her work has also had an impact on video games, where more creators are … 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. “The ideal here,” she said, “is to design combatants who just happen to be women.”. My dissertation this year is about video games. “Happily, this is another easy one to solve,” she said, when lamenting the sexualized grunting that she often hears from female game characters who are supposedly engaged in combat. The Science Show Episode 4 – World Toilet Day, The Science Show Episode 3 – Black History Month. I learnt hope and determination from Tropes vs Video Games, for sure, but I also learnt that the problem with games wasn’t me. Featured image courtesy of Liks Digital on Unsplash. She talked about getting nostalgic while in college and buying a Super Nintendo to play Super Mario World. Anita Sarkeesian released a new video in her Tropes vs Women in Video Games series on August 31, this time taking on the “women as reward” trope. At her talk, she showed a photo of herself as a kid, playing the Super Nintendo with a childhood friend. “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.”. Anita Sarkeesian was one of these voices who spoke out, and thus became a very high profile target because of her previous feminist work. Emily celebrates the positive impact feminist game critic Anita Sarkeesian has had on her life. Anita Sarkeesian ends web series that rocked the world of gaming Anita Sarkeesian breaks down the way video games portray women as "exotic" fantasies. 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. 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. So it’s easy to see how two people might sit through the same Sarkeesian presentation and think “This completely matters” and “This doesn’t matter at all.”. Inquiries. Image: feminist frequency 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. 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… Video games are more important than ever before, and so is cultural criticism of them. That used to be the tough one. Anita Sarkeesian talks about exposing gaming’s most toxic trends with sheer data "A conversation happened in games that was previously only happening in the shadows." “It’s very much like one step forward, two steps back,” she said. The animation arguments were interesting but also demonstrated Sarkeesian’s emphasis on the critique of what players see, more than what they do. Gamergate is a response to radical feminist Anitra Sar-somethingorother complaining about games that do not have Anita Sarkeesian's Tropes vs Women in Video Games Friends of Freethought: Can you guess what color the woman is?”, Several people in the audience shouted the predictable answer: “Pink!”. As easy as she had suggested some of the changes in gaming could be, so much of this is likely to be controversial—and not just because someone might be sexist. Her dad was a networking engineer, and she spent the majority of her free time as a kid rocking a Game Boy. 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. She also kept talking, surprisingly, about how easy change in gaming could be. As always, she is so right on when it comes to connecting male entitlement to the representation of women as consumable objects. Is she perfect? “Everything depends on framing, right? For example, she said that impractically-sexualized costumes communicate that a female character’s “value and worth is tied to ability to arouse straight young men.” But she added that some of her critics say that male characters are sexualized, too. 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? 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 I just feel so unwelcome, and as a teenager that stuff is really hard to shake. 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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. The added protection, I was told, was “the result of NYU Public Safety’s extensive security audit of the situation,” though NYU did not specify, despite my asking, if they were there in response to any specific threats. 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. 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. 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. That’s not really her point. “Equal opportunity sexual objectification is not the answer here,” she said. I truly recommend you watch her series, and decide if it even slightly deserves the rage it whipped up. They are coming here to be, like, ‘oh my god, that woman, that horrible evil woman that’s ruining video games.’”, She said she’d written Gamergate off, that there was no convincing them. The people who make Dragon Age didn’t get this kind of security. During an unscripted Q&A, she said that modern gaming’s depiction of women was really bad. Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment. 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! She’s blamed for ‘ruining’ every game release with a hint of a decent female characterisation since 2012. 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. “Fixing this is of course incredibly easy,” Sarkeesian said. I want to add a drop of positivity to this discussion, no matter how small. 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 received particular attention for her video series Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, which examines tropes in the depiction of female video game characters. 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! Editor-in-Chief. Why not sometimes let a character of any type be helpless or play up their gender?—and yet it also seemed to be the one where she was trying hardest to find ways through it and where she felt like there were the worst potential negative impacts. The Hotline is a brand new, free, confidential, emotional support resource for people who make and play games. This is not a new topic. Interview With Maddie Craig From ‘Familiar Strangers’ @NNT, Ancient Theatre Through Modern Eyes – Looking At Medea, Circe…. A Festive Formula: What Makes The Perfect Christmas Movie? “Yeah,” she replied, and rolled the character intro for Wonder-Pink. TikTok: A New Platform For Aspiring Arts-And-Crafters? 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 … 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? A lot of negativity has been published about Anita Sarkeesian’s video essay series Tropes vs Women in Video Games (TvW); there was negativity at the time, and there’s still negativity now. It wasn’t that I was wrong to like this stuff, it was that people weren’t comfortable with me liking it for some dumb reason. “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. Four main playable protagonists, one of them female. 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