How games' lazy storytelling uses violence and rape against women as wallpaper




I have been saying this for years, it takes a crowdfunding and a famous figure for the point to get across?

Rape and sexual abuse is one of the laziest tropes out there. Shows a distinct lack of imagination that I personally find unnerving. Even if we ignore the sexist aspect, it’s still a very, very lazy shot at creating conflict. It’s worse than a trope, it’s a tired and overused cliché.

I don’t like those “media figureheads” very much, but at least someone has the guts to call out that lazy writing device that should have fallen in disuse years ago. I really hope people shows a bit more imagination in the future. The near future if possible.


I have nothing notably insightful to add; but this issue looks like the turing-complete equivalent to [Women in Refrigerators] 1 and the Stuffed in the Fridge genre generally. Games didn’t exactly invent the matter; but I’m hard pressed to think of any progress they’ve made compared to legacy media.

If one were feeling particularly generous, it would probably be worth noting that physics is easy and natural language is hard (which, in video games, means that modelling bullet trajectories is just a dash of math, while building dialog trees requires total intervention from writers and voice actors); but that hardly explains the distribution of fairly interchangeable reasons to go shoot some mooks, even if it does explain why the answer usually involves shooting mooks rather than applying psych-fu.


Give it a read; they did it in the typical Penny Arcade style, though, so people interpreted it (somewhat bizarrely) as being pro-rape. The point was to show what horrible fates game designers tended to give NPCs (non-playable characters). PA and FF were talking, by and large, about the same phenomenon.


Isn’t her name “Anita,” or does she accept “Anna” too?

Different strokes, but I would literally not even give a shit if the pimp was replaced by a talking donkey and the ‘hooker’ (the 80’s called, etc) was replaced by a steaming cheese and ham croissant. I accept I am not a normal gamer but for me it’s the gameplay dynamics that I’m interested in and the story is so irrelevant I literally couldn’t care. I skip every jump scene I can. I’ve played through every mission of every version of Halo but I have NFI what the story arc is. It’s just so unimportant. I would contend that I could destroy most if not all BB readers in CoD multiplayer… but have spent about 10 minutes playing the campaign.

There’s enough good storytelling out there that we don’t need this aspect brought into gaming IMO. I know that doesn’t fly with many gamers but whatever. Mario is an all-time-classic, the old versions of which are all still incredibly fun to play. The story of that is that an Italian plumber and his brother have been recruited by a mushroom-headed royal subject to save a princess from a dragon’s castle while avoiding turtles and eating mushrooms to get bigger. Even despite this nonsensical psilocybin-induced storyline, the game is still good.


Not only is the trope reprehensible, but it is also inaccurate portraying women as helpless creatures who always need the hero to step in and save them. I’ll just leave this here -


A lot of this seems to be a lazy knockoff effect because you’re almost always playing white bro McKnucklehead, and the cheapest easiest way to establish the revenge fantasy is, as noted, doing something to horrible to a) his woman (he’s het, of course), b) his family, c) his black partner who is six weeks away from retirement.

The good news there is that making the protagonists more interesting, which we’re slowly starting to see, may then help with the cliche women as flimsy revenge justification thing. But you’re always gonna have lazy writers. Hell, God of War used the family thing to justify Kratos being an inexcusable complete and utter f@#4head to everyone else in the universe, the angriest white male ever, for at least four entire games.

Oh well, the first step is admitting you have a problem.


But if we don’t need men stepping in to protect women from rape, do we really need them to escort them to the hospital? Or check in on them at the shelter?

Thankfully the actual analysis is a lot more sophisticated than the headline would imply. There are a lot of important points made by Sarkeesian about gender stereotyping and “background” violence. Missing from the analysis is any suggestion that men are stereotyped as well, but that is understandably left for another report. Worth thinking about though, as one watches the video.


Nice seeding the comments in such a judgmental way.

Makes it rather difficult for someone to come forward with a dissenting opinion.

Given that there’s plenty of spectacular clearly terrible examples, like God of War III at 21:42, I find it distracting that much of her analysis applies to the male characters as well. There is seldom a chance to call for assistance on a downed NPC, most do not have thoroughly developed backstories, etc.

I’m happy that this video suffers from this issue far less than the previous one, where it was so pervasive that it reduced her credibility for me.

Most video games are not about satirizing, interpreting, or fixing the world. They often objectify and abuse men as well.

Unfortunately violence against women, men, and children is reality, and most of us are particularly sensitive to violence against the helpless, so this is used make retribution murder acceptable, even pleasurable.

Perhaps part of the problem is that we produce games based on murdering people.

Is there ever a good justification for murdering people?


Hi @waetherman - In past related topic threads, it was noted that in games men are gender stereotyped: by men, for men. That’s true physically and in action. We’ve also discussed a study about how gaming affects socialization toward different races.

Male stereotyping was discussed in depth on this Sarkeesian thread.

Here’s a link to Part 1 of the Women as Background discussion. Sexual stereotypes in gaming are discussed there as well the study on race.


Absolutely nothing. It’s actually an) interesting story (mildly) and should at least be a cautionary tale about trusting peoples’ claims at face value, but yeah…this isn’t the place for it.

Aaaand just like that, somewhere out there some asshole started to pen the script for Shrek 5.


Latent issues created by Anita’s past behavior. I pointed out that it’s less common in this video, but prior episodes were decidedly manufactured, misrepresented, and sexist towards men.

First video is decent for some background, but the second one is nuts.

@chellberty: You post like a bit of a crazy person. That may prevent you from reaching people effectively.

@regeya: First video at least is informative about the reliability of the content producer. How is this not relevant?

I argue that a substantial portion of the rage Anna has attracted has to do with her misrepresentation and sexism.

Not that gamer culture doesn’t already react stupidly and violently when valid issues are raised.

Oh, I understand that there are issues with Sarkessian; BoingBoing isn’t a good platform for discussing it because a.) Cory already poisoned the well so that bringing up anything negative is automatically misogyny, and b.) they’ll just remove it if it gets too far from what they want here. EDIT: Besides–and I want to make this perfectly clear–she’s not wrong, even if she gets some details a bit wonky. Like I said in an earlier comment, this is what the Penny Arcade “Dickwolves” strip was really talking about. There’s no good reason why some of this crap just keeps getting regurgitated. Why must the NPCs suffer such horrible fates? Back to PA, much like Beastie Boys’ License to Ill, they were too coy about their real intent, and like much controversial art, it was widely misunderstood.

Quinngate has little, if anything, to do with what’s being discussed here. While I would love to see BB tackle the issue of separating the misogynist bullshit from the fact that an amateurish game written in a TiddlyWiki fork got onto Steam Greenlight and glowing reviews because of (imho) male guilt and a lack of journalistic integrity in gaming press, I don’t see it happening here.


Your tl;dr: don’t muddy FPSs or RPGs with storytelling, just accept all the rape and misogyny because you don’t care?



Wait, so is this why in one thread I’m speaking out against slut shaming, and minutes later I’m arguing hordes of feminists?

The only people linking these two things together are gamers who are unwilling to take a truly critical look at the pablum they’re being served in modern gaming.

And in this thread, that’s you, buddy.

Sarkesian’s videos, and Corey’s intro both state that there’s nothing wrong with enjoying these games. But you’re quick to link a video that equates her to Jack Thompson.

The idea behind this commentary is to wake people up so they can start demanding better storylines, which will improve the art form. Every art form is open to this type of criticism, and every artform benefits from it.


This is Tropes on Women. If you want to do your own Tropes on Men, go ahead. When you discuss a topic, you don’t automatically have the discuss the other topics. If she were discussing problematic depictions of LGBT people, she wouldn’t have to also include problematic depictions of straight people. If she is talking about date rape of women, she doesn’t also have to talk about prison rape of men. If you want to do this, go ahead. But this doesn’t have anything to do with her. She isn’t covering up topics just because her research doesn’t overlap. Just because men murder men in video games doesn’t mean that her discussion of the use of rape as a plot device is of little importance.

This type of bullshit argument always comes up from the Men’s Rights groups whenever a person wants to talk about Women’s Issues. A feminist says that women being raped is a problem, and the retort is always “Hey! Why are you ignoring the men being raped?” That isn’t their focus. An AIDS researcher isn’t constantly bombarded with “Hey! Why are you ignoring malaria?”