Anita Sarkeesian's new video is about what games do right


#1

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#2

I didn’t notice anything in Sword & Sworcery that ever indicated that The Scythian was a woman.

I know she was, because I read that she was, but I would never have known from playing it. Was it ever signified anywhere, and I just didn’t notice? (Quite likely).

watches video

Ah yeah, maybe I didn’t remember the pronouns because I already knew she was female.


#3

Good video, though I am a bit worried about the future ones. I hope that Anita doesn’t go the route of proclaiming that the only good female protagonists are the ones that don’t perform their gender. That’s regressive in its own way.

Luckily, based on the shots we saw in the video’s opening, I don’t think that’s going to be the case.


#4

If you watch some of her other videos, she makes it pretty clear that it’s possible to write female characters that are not just chock full of male-coded character traits. I think she specifically cited Buffy the Vampire Slayer as example of a good female character that was not dragged down by her femininity.


#5

In fact she even calls it out when female characters are simply given male-coded character traits.


#6

It’s almost as if actually paying attention to what she has to say indicates that the fearmongers are baseless, but why contribute to the fearmongering? It sounds like you’re disappointed that the reality didn’t match your expectations.

She hasn’t done any of these things, so take them for what they are and not what you want them to be.


New poster watch (this could be a bit creepy)
#7

It’s going to be a short series, and I say that as a game developer.
I also expect she’ll continue to be deluged with hate mail, now by those decrying her attempt to destroy the game industry with her positivity or something.


#8

I know she’s said those things, but it’s also worth noting that the first character she brought up in this series is one that possesses no female-gendered character traits except for her pronoun.


#9

I’ve actually watched all of her videos and generally agree with a lot of her points. I’m just wondering about what other characters she’s going to do because the first one is specifically being praised for possessing no gendered traits.

Anita seems to swing back and forth on whether gender expression is acceptable or not, and I’m still trying to get a feel for when she thinks it’s appropriate.


#10

Just joined an hour ago? Is hyperbolic and missing the point? In an Anita Sarkeesian thread? Oh, I suppose…

Wait…huh…

Guys, either the trolls have gone all meta on us in an effort to make a future false equivalence bid, or I am becoming paranoid…

At any rate, excellent vid as always from this woman. I kind of wish it was like twice as long and she included some more specific counterpoints, but I suppose those curious about counterpoints can mostly watch her other videos. :stuck_out_tongue:


New poster watch (this could be a bit creepy)
#11

Sadly, the only enjoyable part about that game was its music.
And the high-res version.


#12

Sarkeesian’s review did the game justice. It really is a gem of a game.

I’m about to venture into territory I rarely comment upon, so I’m a little nervous.

I think the Scythian’s gender is relevant to the themes of the story, and to its emotional impact, though the relationship is subtle and can be denied. The story involves mortality and sacrifice, and the gameplay references the phases of the moon, as it changes in real time, which I think is a hint at the connection between gender and mortality. It’s a reference to the symbolic association of the moon with women, with lunar cycles to the menstrual cycle, and to life and death. (The game also makes joking references to Karl Jung, so I think I’m on reasonable ground to suggest that the game developers had this sort of symbolism in mind.)

As Sarkeesian points out, it’s relatively unusual for protagonists in games to sacrifice themselves – which, if you think about it, is quite remarkable, given the cultural influence of Christianity and how commonly sacrifice is a theme in folklore, mythology, and to a lesser extent in contemporary fiction. Generally, a successful playthrough is one in which the protagonist never dies. Many game narratives are power fantasies, in which the protagonist accumulates power and overcomes all conceivable limitations. Violent death is something that happens to the protagonist’s enemies, and sometimes to the protagonist’s allies – as Sarkeesian points out, the death of a woman that the protagonist cares about is a common plot device, But not to the protagonist. The protagonist achieves his goals without sacrificing anything.

There’s a cultural tradition in which issues of mortality are for women to deal with: childbirth and child rearing, caring for the sick and the elderly. And this comes with expectations of self-sacrifice: women are expected to give up their personal interests for the sake of others. Helping others comes at a cost.

Thus, the Scythian acts as a woman, and as a warrior: she fulfills positive aspects of a traditional model of the gender, through a role usually associated with men, thus overcoming the limitations of one gender and implying a path to overcome the limitations of the other.


#13

I’d say there’s more than just a pronoun that shows the player that the Scythian is female. Her voice is the first giveaway, with her exclamations sounding distinctly feminine during combat and such. There’s also small details in the way the way she moves, and how other characters talk to her (and think about her once you get the Megatome) that give you clues about her gender.

Also, a pronoun can be a pretty big deal. This is especially true for trans people who have figured out their gender identity, but haven’t taken any steps to change their outward appearance. Asking other people to use a specific pronoun when referring to you is often the first way that trans people express their gender.


#14

Misleading title is misleading.

I would also say that what Sarkessian, along with other feminists, were looking for are fictional role models for aspiring young females who doesn’t cater to the male demographics. This is why Samus and Bayonetta never counted when it comes to feminism; their games caters to the male demographic.

She most likely going a route for games with thought provoking narratives; Life is Strange, Beyond Good and Evil, and Mirror edge came to mind.


#15

I got happy as soon as I saw Mirror’s Edge in the opening sequence.


#16

Haven’t watched the vid yet, but must say I’m happy to hear ms. Sarkeesian going through positive things. I found her old vids quite negative and chock full of things that were wrong and skimming past any positive aspects. Made them a chore and a half to watch.


#17

Sarkeesian raised almost 160,000 dollars, three years ago, for her Troupes Vs Women In Video Games. How many videos did she complete?

Three.

Three Videos in three years. While there is nothing wrong with this video, it’s great that she show casing an Indie game that is about exploration, she is shirking her responsibility to her backers. Are people going to admit to themselves that she is a fraud.

Three videos out of twelve that she promised back in 2012.


#18

That’s interesting, because I’ve felt quite critical of Buffy specifically because I didn’t feel that her femininity was well integrated with the character. It felt more like ‘warrior’ and ‘girl’ had been conceived separately, like two balls of plasticine, and then squashed together without blending. Also her moments of weakness closely correlated with her desire for ‘normal girl stuff’ (like in every series) which, aside from the fact that every series ran the same damn story arc, is an unhealthy association in my opinion. Obviously as a work of entertainment there are multiple interpretations, but my impression was that the femininity she craved was presented as inherently weak, which I find a restrictive understanding of femininity.

Generally I don’t think Joss Whedon is as great an ally as he thinks he is. I love his work as entertainment, but I find that some of the things suggested as pro-feminist commentary within his stories are creepy as hell. For intance when I heard about the suggested future plot development ‘Inarra Serra raped by Reavers, they all die because of magic vagina woo’ I was almost glad that the series got cancelled. Almost.

Back on track, I thought the video was good. I don’t understand the hostility towards women in games or gaming. I mean, I think I understand the mentality that it comes from but I don’t understand the sense of threat - I guess that they feel that if they concede that some games should feature non-stereotyped females, then the next step will be the suppression of the stereotyped male characters that they love so much? I dunno. I think Anita hit the nail on the head when she commented that women are expected to be happy identifying with male characters, but men are considered incapable of identifying with female characters - which is a pretty sad indictment of the male gamer if that’s what developers think.

I actually hate the amount of fan-service that goes on in games aimed at the ‘true gamer’ geek core demographic (presumed to be male). Half Life 2 is the most egregious example that comes to mind. You can barely play for 5 minutes at a time without some brown-nosing NPC idiot gushing “Oh Gordon, I’m so glad you are here! You are so smart and brave and handsome!” Then there’s Alyx, who starts off as usual presenting this strong-willed, independent facade but over the course of the game melts into a gushy, simpering, obvious pseudo-girlfriend type. The whole thing stinks of a massive effort to draw a certain type of player in by heaping the validation that they crave (and presumably lack from elsewhere) upon them.


#19

This is the sixth video in that series. The initial kickstarter was only for five 10-minute videos, so if you kicked in five bucks you would already received more than you were promised by now. She wasn’t under any obligation to increase the number or length of the videos just because people kept throwing money at her, so the total amount raised is irrelevant. As a contributor of $0.00, I for one am extremely happy with what I’ve received so far, and am looking forward to another six great videos.


#20

Wow, Gamergaters [1] suck at math.