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Travesty said on June 2nd, 2013 at 12:05 am

I’ll leave it at ‘amen.’

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Christophe said on June 2nd, 2013 at 12:13 am

Shorter DanimalCart: “The *really problem* is that a woman didn’t consider men’s feelings enough.”

Sigh.

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“I do think DanimalCart is right that Sarkeesian would do better to take into account the extraordinarily thin skin of her audience.”

Having watched the videos, I’d say she does that. She adds caveats and is restrained. I really don’t think she needs to modify her behaviour or criticisms any more for the sake of gaming culture’s “thin skin”.

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Mikesean45 said on June 2nd, 2013 at 2:11 am

A couple of points. In her Kickstarter video, Ms. Sarkeesian made it clear what her perspective and conclusion already was, before her videos were even funded or supposedly researched. She also said that it would be an academic in-depth analysis and going into something like this with a conclusion already drawn like that will inevitably cause some cherry picking to occur. This is apparent in some of the clips she discusses that are presented out of context.

Take ICO, for example. In her video, she shows a short clip of Ico pulling Yorda up from a broken bridge and uses it as an example of where writers use female vulnerability to trigger an emotional reaction in male players. This is very misleading because in ICO, both Yorda and Ico work together to escape. One literally cannot escape or even survive without the other and you are constantly saving each other’s lives throughout the game.

I’m not sure you understood DanimalCart’s “construction crew” metaphor, but it sounds like he is trying to say that sexism negatively affects both men and women and that she does not effectively take that into account when making her videos. She does address it in Part 2, but very briefly. In my opinion, when dealing with gender issues, making one gender feel excluded is always counterproductive, whichever gender it may be.

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ICO is exactly what Sarkeesian says it is: the damsel trope. Even if she assists, the female is still passive, one in a log line of passive and then dead women, while the male viewpoint character is active and even proactive. It’s not as toxic as some versions of the trope, but that’s part of her point. Even when the female character has abilities and some characterization, she’s still the object of the male character’s actions rather than an actor in her own right.

If you want to talk about a game that actually deals with the damsel issue look at ICO’s spiritual successor, Shadow of the Colossus. The damsel is literally dead and totally passive but it’s not clear that she would actually want to be saved by you and the game makes it very clear that YOU ARE THE VILLAIN and a big part of that is how locked-into the damsel narrative your character is.

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Nobody cares about your attempts to white knight an incompetent internet feminist.

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JCHandsom said on June 2nd, 2013 at 10:19 am

@Ex

I do, and I don’t think he’s “whiteknighting” anyone. You care to, otherwise you wouldn’t have posted a comment about it.

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There will always be a thinner skin. It should be possible to discuss motifs in fiction without being stopped cold for fear of upsetting a sad case whose identity is so badly entangled with a genre that he can’t bear to hear that anyone else has thoughts about it.

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tenken347 said on June 2nd, 2013 at 10:56 am

I also don’t think it’s unreasonable that some people may have differing interpretations of the same material, and that they are strongly enough attached to these interpretations that they are willing to argue them passionately against a conflicting opinion.

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tenken347: Sure. They are allowed that. Other people are then allowed to point out the holes in their arguments. The more of them there are, the more people are going to question whether those counter-arguments are being made in good faith.

Mikesean45: It’s called forming a hypothesis. She has a degree in social theory. She’s spent years upon years studying depictions of women in pop culture. She already knew the evidence was there – she just needed the funds to compile and further analyze it. And she asked for a very modest amount to accomplish that.

The “She stated a hypothesis before raising money” argument is as pointless as it is invalid, though, because it does nothing to invalidate the evidence presented. Saying she cherry-picked that evidence and therefore she’s wrong is like saying my garden doesn’t have potato bugs in it because, despite my finding potato bugs, I went out looking for potato bugs.

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NCallahan said on June 2nd, 2013 at 11:35 am

Mr. Smith, I am greatly disappointed that this post did not also contain Predator.

I’ve always found Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency videos a little dry, but generally I think she’s just pointing out the obvious and so it amazes me the amount of backlash they routinely generate, which is probably a testament to their merit considering how uncontroversial they *should* be.

What is often odd is that in games like ICO, people try to explain the Damsel narrative away by citing what a fantastic *tool* the female character is for the player — how *helpful* she is and how you *need* her to complete the game. This is the language people have to used to talk away by women for centuries, as compliments and completions for men — this is a very definition of objectification by praising a woman for the role she plays in a man’s life. I’m not saying helpful NPCs are bad game design, on the contrary — but they aren’t a de facto proof against chauvanism.

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@Ex: You cared enough to post. You lose!

I also love how “white knighting” has been twisted back on itself. Once, a pejorative term for a man who is defending a woman’s argument because he thinks she needs defending and/or he thinks a dude’s word will legitimize her opinion and/or he wants to bone her. Now it’s the go-to insult for any traitor who agrees with a woman for any reason. Ah, the internet.

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highlyverbal said on June 2nd, 2013 at 12:23 pm

@Mikesean45: You seem to be suggesting that she is not following the scientific method. That is a very serious charge and I strongly suggest that you do a rudimentary amount of research into the scientific method.

Hypothesis formation is part of the method. A core part. Period. Cherry-picking is not avoided by avoiding hypotheses. Cherry-picking is checked by a) record keeping to guard against confirmation bias and b)peer review & others replicating your results and c) statistical methods.

Asserting that her evidence is wrong because she held a hypothesis is not part of the method. If you think her experiments and research are wrong, you may perform your own and publish. If enough of her results are not replicated, her hypothesis will be discredited.

Your objections to her process merely display your own ignorance of the process.

(And seriously, are you really suggesting that Galileo, Newton, Darwin, Kepler, Einstein, et al did not form hypotheses?! If so, please state so clearly so I can have an enjoyable time mocking you.)

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Mikesean45 said on June 2nd, 2013 at 12:51 pm

“Have you ever noticed that, with a few notable exceptions, basically ALL female characters in video games fall into a small handful of cliches and stereotypes?” The first line of her Kickstarter video. That video really shows that that was more than merely a hypothesis, but a conclusion already formed. She even had already figured out what the stereotypes were before doing research. That is not how you use the scientific method.

@BSD My point was not simply that she was helpful or that she has some characterization, but that they BOTH worked TOGETHER to escape as a team and they both save each other constantly. It wasn’t so much a boy saving a girl, they were a team. And you wouldn’t know that only from watching Ms. Sarkeesian’s video. But interesting how you would defend Shadow of the Colossus, because I’d argue that Mono actually plays the Damsel role completely straight.

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JCHandsom said on June 2nd, 2013 at 1:21 pm

@Mikesean45

Do you play as Yorda at any time in the game? This is important, as the character the player controls has more importance in the story than NPCs. Why? Because like any protagonist, you interpret events through their eyes, and in a video game it’s even more important because that character is the conduit for player interaction.

You say they work together as a team, but NPC Yorda is entirely dependent on the male player character. Their relationship is one of imbalanced importance: one is an actor, the other is merely an assistant.

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famousfolly said on June 2nd, 2013 at 1:21 pm

I’m not sure why the scientific method is even relevant in this discussion because Anita Sarkeesian isn’t doing a scientific analysis. She’s doing a literary critical analysis, and from that perspective her methodology is spot on. She noticed a pattern in her texts (in this case, the damsel in distress trope in video games), formulated a thesis/claim about it, wrote a paper (in this case, created video lectures) on it where she made her claim, made sub-claims, provided evidence to back up every claim, and analyzed that evidence. That is how you write a paper performing literary criticism, so actually, her methodology is spot on.

Also, for anyone who would argue about Anita Sarkeesian needing to be nicer for the benefit of the male part of her audience:

Those videos are incredibly uncomfortable to sit through as a woman, especially the second one. The evidence she cites is clip after clip of women being brutalized, being sexualized while they are brutalized, and–my personal favorite to be horrified at–women BEGGING TO BE BRUTALIZED by their male love interests/relatives after having been brutalized and dehumanized by the antagonist. Many of her clips are from a 1st person perspective; that is, from the perspective of the man doing the brutalizing.

As a woman, just watching her evidence was an incredibly alienating experience, even knowing that she only showed those clips in support of an argument against them. My sympathy for men who feel uncomfortable at having their favorite games called out for utilizing the egregiously toxic tropes she analyzes is extremely low, after seeing what those tropes are doing to depictions of women. I’m sorry you feel excluded from a video that is focused on a trope that most obviously affects depictions of women in video games. :’(

Though actually, I don’t feel sorry, because Sarkeesian has always been very clear about it being okay to appreciate and enjoy video games while being aware and critical of the ways in which those video games fuck up. And, in her second video, Sarkeesian specifically points out ways in which the repeated use of the “Damsel in Distress” tropes negatively affects depictions and perceptions of men and masculinity. Unless there are people here who don’t think repeated depictions of male heroes being incapable of solving conflicts with anything other than violence (and/or/especially violence towards women) are a problem?

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Mikesean45 said on June 2nd, 2013 at 2:16 pm

@JCHandsom That does not make her a Damsel in Distress, which the video was claiming she was. Complaining that she is simply not playable is a different point altogether.

@famousfolly She shows a lot of clips from games, but she doesn’t do a whole lot of analysis on them, the most egregious example being when she brings up Bionic Commando and just snickers.

I didn’t say she needs to be “nicer”, I said she should take into account that these tropes affect both genders. And yes, she does briefly bring that up, but again fails to provide insight or analysis.

I am sorry you feel uncomfortable from the videos, but even though one gender does not like the way they are represented and may even have it worse, does not mean they shouldn’t be concerned with how the other gender is represented as well. Tackling this one gender at a time tends to produce a sense of resentment which, like I said, is counterproductive.

I am not saying that there isn’t a problem with gender representation in games. There definitely is. I just don’t agree with how Ms. Sarkeesian is going about it.

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@Mikesean45 Yes, Mono pays the damsel role completely straight, and the guy rescuing her is incontrovertibly in the wrong. That’s how you use the damsel trope to attack the damsel trope.

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Mikesean45 said on June 2nd, 2013 at 2:53 pm

@BSD Well Ico and Shadow of the Colossus leave a lot up to interpretation. It depends whether you think Dormin was evil or not, whether the Colossi were merely pieces of Dormin or were innocent creatures that housed parts of Dormin, who Mono really was to Wander, etc. And that’s not even getting into the whole “Mono is the Queen” theory…

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“Games about male characters rescuing helpless female characters are reliably easy to sell to male audiences. This is a motivation for sexism, not an excuse for it”

Interesting argument until you realize that the romance genre. Which of course is something primarily written by and aimed towards women frequently contains the Damsel in distress character trope. Funny how it’s not an issue there. It’s only an issue in mail targeted media.

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JCHandsom said on June 2nd, 2013 at 3:29 pm

@Mikesean45

Rescuing Yorda is the goal of the game, and her character is that she needs Ico, the player, to do the rescuing. I know that’s an oversimplification, and indeed the game is not the worst offender, but you can’t say the trope isn’t there.

Oh, and that Bionic Commando thing is Head-Slappingly Stupid. There isn’t a lot to say about it aside from pointing and laughing.

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@Mikesean45

I am sorry you feel uncomfortable from the videos, but even though one gender does not like the way they are represented and may even have it worse, does not mean they shouldn’t be concerned with how the other gender is represented as well.

Except for the fact that Sarkeesian’s argument is almost entirely about both sides of it. She points out that it’s insidious, to have such a large # of games where the player (in first person) is required to either:
a) brutalize their loved one to bring their lover back to their senses
b) brutally kill their loved one as some way to redeem / recover her
With that being just one feature of the general damsel trope, which often reduces the damsel in question to a possession / property.

That’s not a failure to give insight or analysis, that’s just a failure to give insight or analysis that male gamers want to hear.

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@mikesean45

@famousfolly She shows a lot of clips from games, but she doesn’t do a whole lot of analysis on them, the most egregious example being when she brings up Bionic Commando and just snickers.

She stakes, exactly, what storyline is involved in almost all of the clips she brings up. If you think she’s not given them their due, it’s because in most cases the plot is the same (hence, her point).

And she is far more generous with the Bionic Commando clip than it deserves.

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“Games about male characters rescuing helpless female characters are reliably easy to sell to male audiences. This is a motivation for sexism, not an excuse for it”

There is a woman that needs rescuing does not mean all women need rescuing.

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Mikesean45 said on June 2nd, 2013 at 4:54 pm

@JDHandsom I’m not sure what game you played, but escaping the castle is the whole point of the game, not rescuing Yorda.

“Oh, and that Bionic Commando thing is Head-Slappingly Stupid. There isn’t a lot to say about it aside from pointing and laughing.”

In a critical analysis, there should be MUCH more to say about it. If there isn’t, don’t include it.

@chindi How? How does what you just said point out how her argument is “almost entirely about both sides of it”?

“That’s not a failure to give insight or analysis, that’s just a failure to give insight or analysis that male gamers want to hear.”

I understand you are angry, but this is exactly the kind of resentment I was talking about that we really cannot afford to have if we want this issue to be resolved.

“She stakes, exactly, what storyline is involved in almost all of the clips she brings up.”

Yes, yes she does. Again, that’s not analysis.

“And she is far more generous with the Bionic Commando clip than it deserves.”

I’m not saying she shouldn’t criticize it, I’m saying if you’re going to include an example in a critical analysis, actually analyze it! That would be like if you put a quote in a term paper and then wrote, “I think that quote speaks for itself.” Suffice it to say your professor would not be impressed.

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JCHandsom said on June 2nd, 2013 at 5:47 pm

@Mikesean45

Escaping the castle is part of the overarching goal, but during the game it becomes apparent the goal is to rescue Yorda. The game makes her plight decidedly Damsel-esque, and the gameplay (ie the primary way the player engages with the game) revolves around keeping her safe. The story may say I need to escape the castle, but when I’m playing the actual game I’m focused on protecting Yorda.

When Ico falls off the bridge, he takes his magic sword and goes back to rescues Yorda from the Queen. I think it’s fair to say the goal there is pretty definitively “rescue Yorda.”

Also, I interpeted the Bionic Commando example not as a point of analysis, but as an extreme example of her overarching thesis. Her video talks about how DiD are objectified in modern games, and she brings up an example where the Damsel is literally turned into an object (Spencer’s cyborg arm). It’s a funny punctuation to her point; a lot of games still treat women not as developed characters but as objects in male-power fantasies.

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Sgaile-beairt said on June 2nd, 2013 at 6:41 pm

so im reading abt ICO & it says this yorda cant jump or climb & you ha ve to help her all the time by lifting her or go pushing things so she can climb over obstacles, !? sounds like a damsel to me….even befor e the part where she gets turned to stone….

(also, aka The LOad, literally))

http://www.ign.com/articles/2001/09/25/ico

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Jason:“There is a woman that needs rescuing does not mean all women need rescuing.”

Hence making it annoying that women-who-need-rescuing are super-common in video games.

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MrFoster said on June 2nd, 2013 at 7:24 pm

[i]to gamers, Sarkeesian displays all the tact of an uninvited construction crew coming in your living room at 5:30 in the morning and Jackhammering.[/i]

A better analogy would be if the construction crew knocked on your door around mid-day saturday and told you that your house has been dangerously under code for decades and could collapse at any moment, and are free to make the necessary improvements at any time but would rather do it sooner than later. Instead of scheduling an appointment you then pointed a shotgun in their face and told them to get out because how dare they try to ruin your precious house.

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MrFoster said on June 2nd, 2013 at 7:26 pm

Oh come on the tag codes are right there below the comment box and I still missed them. I really suck

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Mikesean45 said on June 2nd, 2013 at 7:27 pm

@JCHandsom When discussing characters, the story and context are still relevant. This is where the interactivity of the medium makes story and character discussion a little more complicated. As this is a single player game, you can only control one character. Sacrificing player agency to an NPC is a big no-no in game design and would hurt the minimalist approach they were going for. Ico and Yorda solve puzzles to escape throughout the game. While it is the player who solving these puzzles 100%, in the context of the game, they are working together. Yorda often moves towards or, at the very least, points towards different parts of the area involved in the puzzles and effectively helps Ico navigate the castle. This is not like the example from Zelda in the first video where all she would do is open doors. Both characters work together, even if all the thinking is done by the player. Unless you played the NTSC version. Apparently, it was rushed and Yorda’s AI suffered for it.

The ending boss fight without Yorda is definitely due to the whole player agency thing again. From a design perspective, it was most likely used to teach the player about the sword and how it repels the Queen’s magic.

@Sgaile-beairt You might want to play the game. Yorda can, in fact, jump. You just do not control her.

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JCHandsom said on June 2nd, 2013 at 8:12 pm

I think the trope is working both the story and the gameplay. Yes, in the story Yorda and Ico work together to escape, but Yorda isn’t able to escape until Ico defeats the Big Bad. Gameplay wise, Yorda is a tool for the player to solve puzzles.

I think part of it was intentional, as I got this sort of Grimms Fairytale vibe from the whole thing. And to the games credit Yorda is a better character than other prominent examples of DiD. She has utility, and I cared for her plight.

That being said, I think they could have done more for her character. You could have sections where you switch control between Ico and Yorda, and she would have abilities and puzzles unique to her. She could have contributed to the end boss fight, instead of being turned to stone. It isn’t a perfect solution, but I think you could have done more with her and still keep the game’s Fairytale feel and minimalist aesthetic

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Woodrow "asim" Jarvis Hill said on June 2nd, 2013 at 8:43 pm

@Jack: There are a ton of feminist critiques of the Romance genre, even until today — in fact, I’m on a mailing list for a Romance sub-genre that right now is having a debate on the “rape/ravish” troupe, and how present it is in the 21st century Romance genre.

Moreover: Your critique would be about a billion times more relevant if there was an actual English-language Romance-focused game…that didn’t involve gunplay.

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Mikesean45 said on June 2nd, 2013 at 8:53 pm

And Ico isn’t able to escape until Yorda saves his life. That isn’t just throwing her a bone like Ms. Sarkeesian seems to suggest. They both risk their lives to save the other. And besides, by that logic wouldn’t it mean when you help her, she’s a damsel, and when she helps you, she’s a tool?

As for switching characters, you have to be really careful when doing something like that. The game’s main reason for sticking to only one character is immersion. Switching characters creates a disconnect between the player and Ico and, in a way, I think it would also create a disconnect with Yorda as well. The point of the game is to form a bond through actions and interacting with each other. They even put up a language barrier between the two for that reason. I believe this is a case where controlling a character would actually be detrimental to the character. Instead of forming that bond through interaction as if she were an actual person, she would simply be just another player character. And the dynamics of the gameplay would be completely different as well.

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I don’t think that Anita is saying that Ico is BAD for using thet rope, just that the trope definitly IS there. And it is. She’s pretty much incapable of protecting herself, and can’t even remember which way she’s climbing up a ladder unless you’re telling her what to do. This is a massively unequal partnership.

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Nothing to add, but i thought this was the most eloquently and well thought out counterpoint to Anita Sarkeesian

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJihi5rB_Ek

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@eln:

I really don’t think she needs to modify her behaviour or criticisms any more for the sake of gaming culture’s “thin skin”.

I don’t think she needs to, but it might help. It’s a YMMV thing. Sarkeesian seems to be aiming for a general audience–I’ve seen it suggested that these videos are in a format that could be shown in schools. Whereas if I were in her place I’d be anticipating the reaction from your average Kotaku user, because that’s who I think needs most to comprehend the message.

On the other hand…

@Mikesean45:

I’m not sure you understood DanimalCart’s “construction crew” metaphor, but it sounds like he is trying to say that sexism negatively affects both men and women and that she does not effectively take that into account when making her videos. She does address it in Part 2, but very briefly. In my opinion, when dealing with gender issues, making one gender feel excluded is always counterproductive, whichever gender it may be.

I don’t know how else to read the metaphor except this way: You’re sitting at home comfortably, when suddenly some asshole starts running a jackhammer outside with no consideration for whether you wanted to put up with a jackhammer. Likewise, gamers are sitting in their fandom, content that there’s nothing wrong with gaming, until Sarkeesian shows up pushing them out of their comfort zone with no consideration for whether they want to hear her message. In either case, your privilege to control the nature of the disturbance is limited by the need for it to occur–city workers gotta fix your infrastructure, and society has to enlighten people about sexism. It’s never going to be convenient, but it has to be done.

I understand why males feel uncomfortable or excluded or targeted from this sort of dialogue, because I’m a dude and I’ve felt uncomfortable, excluded, and targeted in feminist dialogue. When someone says things you embrace are sexist, you feel like you’re being picked on and nothing you do is good enough to meet their standards. It’s the source of most of the misplaced hostility against Sarkeesian, and why I think the message needs to be tailored with that in mind. But as much as I’d like the entire feminist movement to treat me with kid gloves, I can’t expect it to, so my best course of action is to grow a thicker skin, and understand why that misplaced hostility is misplaced.

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@NCallahan:

Mr. Smith, I am greatly disappointed that this post did not also contain Predator.

I too am disappointed that the thing which can turn invisible is nowhere to be found and OH SHIT GET TO THE CHOPPAH!

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Mikesean45 said on June 2nd, 2013 at 10:34 pm

But I’m saying if these videos included the negative effects of these tropes on both men and women and both genders felt included, one gender (in this case, male) would feel less defensive and would probably be more open to listening to how the tropes negatively affect women as well. Both sides would be addressed and we could move forward faster.

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JCHandsom said on June 2nd, 2013 at 10:46 pm

@Mikesean45

What do you mean when you say “she would be just another player character?” If Yorda was a playable character, I would think I would have MORE of a connection with her. If I could play as Yorda, I would get a better sense of what she is capable of, what her limits are. As a player character, I would give her character a greater sense of agency through my inputs. She would be productive, rather than helpful. She would be an agent of the player, rather than a “tool” for players convenience.

You said earlier that they worked together as a team to accomplish their goals. I agree, but I wouldn’t call theirs a team of equals. Sure they work together, but we all know who gets top billing and who’s playing the second fiddle. We all know who gets to rescue whom at the end. Making Yorda a playable character would make her far more useful a partner and far less of a “Damsel/Tool” of the player character.

You can keep the language barrier and disconnect. She could be more helpful gameplay wise and still remain aloof and mysterious to the player in the story. You could even tie it with the story, as we learn more about her you can have more puzzles for her to solve and obstacles to overcome. As the player gets better playing as Yorda, the more backstory you get about her and the Queen.

I even think Ico’s relationship with Yorda would be stronger as well. As the puzzles got harder and required more cooperation, the more the player would have to rely on using Ico’s and Yorda’s skill in tandem, paralleling their growing bond with each other. When Ico is seperated from Yorda, there’d be a greater sense of loss: you didn’t lose a helpful NPC, you lost a part of yourself.

As for the dynamics of the gameplay… well it’s hard to argue in favor of a hypothetical game’s mechanics. Suffice to I think the guys who made Shadow of the Colossus, a game which experimented and did great things with platforming, could have made it work.

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cole1114 said on June 2nd, 2013 at 11:00 pm

Only thing I got out of this: Why are you reading Kotaku comments? Why are you reading Kotaku?

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But I’m saying if these videos included the negative effects of these tropes on both men and women and both genders felt included, one gender (in this case, male) would feel less defensive and would probably be more open to listening to how the tropes negatively affect women as well

It’s almost like Sarkeesian expressly stated how patriarchal values limit men to a pre-selected set of roles and responses, just as they limit women, in the videos we’re all talking about – in fact, it’s one of her major ongoing themes – but fuck it, whatever, keep playing that world’s tiniest violin

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Sgaile-beairt said on June 3rd, 2013 at 12:23 am

@JCHandsom there is a game called brothers coming out that is supposed to work that way, you play two kids on a quest at once & they each have different skil ls & attitudes….looks fun…& HARD!!

http://kotaku.com/5989508/in-this-lovely-fairy-tale-game-your-right-thumb-is-your-little-brother

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Mikesean45 said on June 3rd, 2013 at 1:31 am

@JCHandsom What I mean is…

When you play as one character in a game, you assume that character’s identity, you are that character. Ico’s interactions with Yorda are yours and you, as Ico, form a bond through that interaction. You form a connection to Ico as your avatar and to Yorda as a person. Switch characters and that connection is lost. You are no longer Ico, you are working with him. Yorda is no longer the person who you spent time with and interacted with, you are controlling her actions. The player is beyond and outside both characters the moment you step into other shoes. The main intention of the game and the thing that most people take away from it is not a story about defeating a shadow Queen or beating up creatures, it’s the bond you form with this other character, which would be lost if you assumed both roles.

Yes, as the player character, Ico obviously gets a little more control over the situation so half the game isn’t solved by the AI. But taking a step back, the game involves two characters communicating with each other through sounds and actions to help each other solve puzzles. She calls you to important puzzle locations as you do to her. As a character, Yorda is as important as Ico. I would also like to reiterate that you save each other in the end, you don’t just save her.

What I meant when I mentioned the dynamics of gameplay is not that they would have been bad, but they would have been completely different and had a completely different effect on the player.

@MGK Where? Where, besides that brief mention toward the end, does she demonstrate this major ongoing theme that it is harmful to men as it is to women?

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Christophe said on June 3rd, 2013 at 1:42 am

Really, if we are going to belabor the quite stupid construction analogy, what DanimalCart is saying is that he was sitting at home playing his games, when he got an email from a friend saying that there was construction going on across town, so he packed up, drove over there, sat down next to the jackhammer, and started bitching that it was too loud.

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Christophe said on June 3rd, 2013 at 1:48 am

Shorter, well, certain commenters on this thread: “The *real problem* is that a woman didn’t consider men’s feelings enough.”

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@Mikesean45

Ms. Sarkeesian has talked a lot about how patriarchal, sexist stereotypes hurt men as well as women, in the past. Here’s one example of such a video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wefi-FWdQiU

That being said,

1) The series she’s doing now is called Tropes vs. Women. If you’re looking for a ‘fair and balanced’ take on how gender roles in video games hurt people, this may not be the series for you.

2) If you feel that Tropes vs. Women is wrong or somehow unfair for focusing on how video games both act as a mirror of our sexist culture (in the sense of how game companies think they can make the most money, and then proceed to try to) and as a vehicle to perpetuate those very stereotypes in a way that hurts women (by normalizing sexist stereotypes and behaviors) — if you really think that focusing on how specifically women are hurt by sexism is wrong, go check your privilege. Yep, I said it. To quote from another good (and angry) piece of internet feminist writing (full version at http://jezebel.com/5992479/if-i-admit-that-hating-men-is-a-thing-will-you-stop-turning-it-into-a-self+fulfilling-prophecy):

—-

We live in a world of measurable, glaring inequalities. Look at politicians, CEOs, film directors, law enforcement officers, comedians, tech professionals, executive chefs, mathematicians, and on and on and on—these fields are dominated by men. (And, in many cases, white men.) To claim that there is no systemic inequality keeping women and minorities out of those jobs is to claim that men (people like you) are just naturally better. If there is no social structure favoring men, then it stands to reason that men simply work harder and/or are more skilled in nearly every high-level specialized field.

It’s fine (though discouraging) if you legitimately believe that, but you need to own up to the fact that that is a self-serving and bigoted point of view. If you do not consider yourself a bigot, then kindly get on board with those of us who are trying to proactively correct inequalities. It is not enough to be neutral and tacitly benefit from inequality while others are left behind through no fault of their own. Anti-sexism, anti-racism, anti-homophobia, anti-transphobia—that’s where we’re at now. Catch up or own your prejudice.

—–

tl;dr: Yeah, it sucks that men are pidgeonholed into some bad places in our culture dominated by male power fantasies. But women are put into much worse places by them, in very entrenched, ugly ways, and the only way that will ever change is if we get loud. We have the right to be loud, and the right to talk about Tropes vs. Women, on its own, rather than Tropes vs. Humans, because the imposed systems of disenfranchisement of women by our culture is in many ways embodied by their treatment in video games, which is a culture increasingly consumed by newer generations.

It matters.

And, yes, feeling like you have to have Kratos’ pectorals in order to be a Real Man matters too. And feminism cares about it, feminism cares about how gender stereotypes hurt everyone — but expecting women to be the ones writing about that, and saving a space for it to be talked about within all their feminist creations, pioneering the movement for how gender stereotypes hurt men…

…again, check your privilege. Then go write it yourself, share it with the world, and see what happens.

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Oh, and lest we forget the other side of the ‘game companies market what they think will make money’ problem, the VGcats webcomic handled it pretty succinctly a long time ago:

http://www.vgcats.com/comics/?strip_id=252

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Nice post. I particularly like this sentence: “Because she’s questioning the sacred cow, whereas he’s reflexively guarding it.” I know that any criticisms I make of sexism in games are from a place of wanting the things I like, or could have liked, to be better, not intrusion into an area I’m not already a part of. I second Travesty in that all I can really say is “amen”.

@Mikesean45 So, in a series of videos intended to examine certain tropes that are present in some video games and how they relate to women… do you want Sarkeesian to have an in-depth analysis of each individual game on its own, and to also address how these tropes affect men? There’s something to be said for limiting the scope (and depth) of a project, especially when baby steps apparently need to be taken, judging by the vitriol some parts of the internet have seen fit to dish out. Excepting your take on the particular example of Yorda and Ico (I’ve never played the game and can’t speak to it), do you feel that the fundamental message of the video is clear?

Also, could you explain what you would have liked Sarkeesian to touch on regarding how sexist tropes affect men? Constructive criticism isn’t very helpful without specifics.

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Wait, wait. Some men are sad because they are, in some corner of the internet, not being catered to directly?

Specifically, in relation to a bunch of videos about how gaming usually does cater directly to men, and wouldn’t it be nice if games instead catered to everyone instead?

This is performance art, right?

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@cole1114:

Only thing I got out of this: Why are you reading Kotaku comments? Why are you reading Kotaku?

I read various sites in the Gawker franchise because a) I get bored and b) their mobile site is easy to use on my phone. One of those sites (Foofur or Nutspin or Gleeworm or whatever they’re called) was doing some roundup of interesting links of the day and included DanimalCart’s piece for some reason. I thought it was odd for a site to promote a forum post so it caught my attention.

Specifically, I read Kotaku because I find scuttlebutt about the video game industry and unwarranted self-importance within the video game fandom interesting. Actually, I find industry scuttlebutt and fan-ego interesting in general. But with video games, I happen to know a site where I can find that stuff.

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Mikesean45 said on June 3rd, 2013 at 3:52 am

@Liz I actually rather like that video because she not only discusses the implications toward men, but women as well. I actually think the video series would benefit if it were more like that, though obviously still focusing more on women since it IS more of a problem with women in video games.

I’d like to point out that I am not against what Ms. Sarkeesian is trying to do. I would love it if more games came out with strong, interesting, and flawed female characters. And yes, video game publishers really do need to get a freaking clue. And yes, mainstream game studios really do need to take some creative writing classes. However, I do not think Ms. Sarkeesian is doing an effective job with these videos.

I’m sure you’ve seen some of the hate the series has gotten. I don’t think that only focusing on women in these videos is wrong. I think it is counterproductive in the long run. I’ve seen many legitimate criticisms toward the series from women and even other feminists who feel the same. Men cannot know what it feels like to be a woman in society, just as women cannot know what it feels like to be a man. Which is why I believe it is so crucial for men and women to be on the same page regarding gender issues. Resentment toward one another will not help.

@A. Well I, personally, think she should focus on a few mainstream games per video and go more in-depth instead of just listing off 30+ games.

One example of something she could have touched on would be from one of her points she mentioned, that hurting or killing women is always used to evoke an emotional reaction, she could go into that a little more and also say how that trope leaves men to be the ones who get hurt or are killed without any emotional reaction expected from the player. More on that and how it’s offensive to both genders, here is a good place to start (only to start, though):

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MenAreGenericWomenAreSpecial

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Here, I’d like to take Mikesean’s side, at least partially.

If you are playing an RPG-style game, your own character is often one for whom the story is the weakest. First, the mechanics of the game most visible in the player character, and especially if you are playing a game with difficult combat situations, you need to develop the character consciously, even if these choices are not logical for the character or not really very well in line with the story.

On the other hand, if you have NPC characters accompanying you, you don’t really see their stats and don’t know their internal AI. These characters may be much more human than my own player character. For example, in Skyrim, my PC befriended in a side quest a person named Erandur, a rather complex person with relatively interesting interactions. After having him as a companion of my PC for more than 50 hours of real-time game play in numerous quests, I really liked him, and had developed him, in my head, as a much fuller character than my own PC.

My own character had no backstory and his plotline was too unrealistic to really believe in. It was for the interaction with the more complex NPCs that I kept playing after the first 10 hours. Turning any of these NPCs to a secondary PC would have destroyed their interestingness.

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Sisyphus said on June 3rd, 2013 at 9:02 am

I’m not trying to troll, but I am trying to understand something here. It looks to me like some people are suggesting that an NPC is a damsel in distress if at any point in the game:
1. A male PC helps her.
2. She is not playable at any point.

I ask because if that’s the case, then I’m not sure I understand how anyone can tell a story with a game that includes female NPC’s without it being considered sexist, without requiring those characters to be playable at some point.

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Sisyphus said on June 3rd, 2013 at 9:06 am

To clarify a little bit, I’m wondering if the general view is that it is impossible to have a mutually cooperative relationship with between a male PC and a female NPC in a game without it being Damsel in Distress. Or am I misunderstanding how people are representing their argument.

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*slow clap for Jim Smith*

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Christian Williams said on June 3rd, 2013 at 10:38 am

@mikesean45

@chindi How? How does what you just said point out how her argument is “almost entirely about both sides of it”?

Because she is saying that the stereotype / trope, while extremely dismissive towards women and enforcing the worst stereotypes also has a negative affect on male gamers, because it reinforces bad stereotypes.


“That’s not a failure to give insight or analysis, that’s just a failure to give insight or analysis that male gamers want to hear.”

I understand you are angry, but this is exactly the kind of resentment I was talking about that we really cannot afford to have if we want this issue to be resolved.

Fun fact #1: I am not female.
Fun Fact #2: I am not angry.
Fun Fact #3: I am not ‘resentful’.
Fun Fact #4: If I was any of the above things? Your reply would be patronizing in the extreme.
Fun Fact Final: What I am, is a male gamer who finds the general response to her videos to be, at best, disappointing. She makes good points, she has an overwhelming amount of evidence and, to be honest, not a whole lot of evidence is needed. Just speaking as a gaer, it’s pretty clear that the vast majority of women in games are ‘damsels’, it’s one of the reasons that Mass Effect and ‘FemShep’ became such a massive deal. The guys who come out and call her names, and threaten her, are easy to dismiss. But to be honest, those who pretend to want to discuss the issue, but immediately step past her point to try to quibble with the methodology of her analysis are just as bad. You’re not discussing the issue, you’re discussing *how* she’s discussing the issue because you feel like if you can win that argument it invalidates the things she’s saying that you know to be true.


“She stakes, exactly, what storyline is involved in almost all of the clips she brings up.”

Yes, yes she does. Again, that’s not analysis.

No, the analysis comes in between those clips, where she discusses the trope in general, the ways it manifests, and it’s impact. The analysis is there, you just can’t hear it because you’re putting your hands to your ears and saying ‘La-la-la-no-analyisis-can’t-hear-you’.


“And she is far more generous with the Bionic Commando clip than it deserves.”

I’m not saying she shouldn’t criticize it, I’m saying if you’re going to include an example in a critical analysis, actually analyze it! That would be like if you put a quote in a term paper and then wrote, “I think that quote speaks for itself.” Suffice it to say your professor would not be impressed.

Fun Fact P.S.: I’m pretty sure, corect me if I’m wrong, that you’re not her professor, she hasn’t submitted the work to you for grading, and you haven’t been appointed the internet authority on what constitutes analysis and what doesn’t. in this context, to be honest, that clip criticized itself.

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JCHandsom said on June 3rd, 2013 at 11:32 am

@Lurker

When I say that making Yorda a playable character would improve her character, I’m not stating that making any NPC a playable character would improve their character in any game. I’m talking specifically about the game Ico here.

@Sisyphus

Mikesean and I are talking about the game Ico specifically. When I said that making Yorda a playable character would make her more important a character and less a DiD, I was responding to this statement.

“My point was not simply that she was helpful or that she has some characterization, but that they BOTH worked TOGETHER to escape as a team and they both save each other constantly.”

My point was that as an NPC, she is going to matter less (in gameplay terms) to the player than the PC. They are a team, but an unequal one. Ico (the player) solves all the problems and Yorda is a helpful assistant. It goes beyond “male PC/female NPC have a mutually cooperative relationship”: the entire game is centered on them working together as a team. The story is all about how the work together to solve problems, risking their lives for each other. Unfortunately, the gameplay boils down to ‘PC solves problem, PC takes care of NPC, NPC occasionally helps the PC’. I think making Yorda a PC would bring the gameplay more in line with the story.

Games can have great Female NPC characters that have a mutually cooperataive relationship with a Male PC character. I’m making the point that, in this specific case, making Yorda a playable character would make her more relevant to the gameplay and therefore more important to the player.

@Mikesean45

You interact with Ico as a character, and I interact with Ico as a PC. I think it comes down to a case-by-case basis for which side a player falls towards.

Personally, when I play a game with a large emphasis on narrative and characters (Mass Effect or Metal Gear Solid), I think of characters like they were actual people. When I play a game that emphasizes gameplay experience over narrative(Skyrim or Fallout) I tend to view things in gameplay terms like NPC or PC.

With Ico, it’s kind of a mixed bag for me. On the one hand, the world of Ico is incredibly moody and immersive. The game doesn’t explain a lot about the world, leaving it up to the Player’s imagination to fill in the gaps. And what the game does reveal about the world invites that sort of mental exploration: breathtaking architecture, mythic lore, and mysterious creatures.

On the other hand, I didn’t find Ico and Yorda’s characters developed enough to be worth investing myself in. Everything about them is painted in broad, almost predictable strokes; they’re cursed, they care about each other, they’re brave and noble, etc. Standard Fairytale stuff really. That doesn’t mean they’re bad characters, just that they’re not particularly complicated or deep characters.

We might just have to agree to disagree here. I see where you’re coming from, and I can respect investing yourself in the story, but I think the gameplay of Ico is much more immersive and important than the characters of Ico.

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Mike Smith said on June 3rd, 2013 at 11:40 am

@NCallahan

Predator is hiding behind the giant quotation marks. Watching. Waiting.

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The Unstoppable Gravy Express said on June 3rd, 2013 at 1:14 pm

…any time…

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Ico is a beautiful, beautiful game which I enjoyed playing. But none of that excuses the problems with it.

It’s funny, the number of game reviews that can talk about the good things about a game, while also including mention of the drawbacks in gameplay, but if one of the drawbacks is the sexism of the storyline, suddenly the reviewer is seen as damning the game completely, rather than simply pointing out one of its faults.

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GEHT TO THAH SEHXISSAAAAAAAHHHHMMM!!!!!

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With respect to focusing on a few games rather than many, I think that’s one viable approach, but as it happens, Sarkeesian has chosen another. The strengths of providing many surface-level examples over a few are these:
1. It demonstrates the widespread nature of the tropes. This is one of her main points, after all – a few damsels in distress, taken individually, hurt no one. They’re just specific stories, and don’t particularly matter. If she’d examined a few and just said, “And there’s more where that came from,” then left it at that, she would’ve done a disservice to her audience.
2. It centers the argument on the trope, and not the specific instances of the trope. Say she picked just a handful. I’m quite sure the majority of criticisms of her would then be focused on what she’s addressed – picking apart every single example, and why the trope was justified in the story’s context. By all means, discuss whether examples actually fit under the trope, because that helps to solidify a definition of what we’d like to see less of – but focusing on Ico and Yorda or whichever video game characters, with detriment to addressing the trope and its impact, isn’t going to get much done.

On the second matter – alright, I could see a mention of that particular trope being a nice addition, because it is very much a thing. That said, to discuss it any more than as an aside would mean… well, talking about a different trope, in videos specifically about “Damsels in Distress”. You see what I mean? I have a feeling that Sarkeesian will, undaunted, continue to make videos, and she could certainly examine sexist tropes and their negative impact on men, but when you’re focusing on a specific problem, you aren’t obliged to go into every other related problem. No one would ever get anything done that way. Her videos could be improved by having some extra mentions of related impacts here and there (and I’m not one to deny her series could be better, having a few quibbles with it myself), but – well, at that point criticisms are about quibbles. Hence my question about whether her message came across clearly. I don’t need to explain my thoughts on this point very much, because Christian Williams said it very well. At some level, it seems like people are focused on just invalidating her argument rather than discussing the content of her argument, under the guise of helpful criticism.

Could her videos be better? Yeah. Would they be better if they focused on a few rather than many? Maybe, but she’s chosen a good approach, too. But this is the way she’s gone about it, and people who agree with her message and disagree with her methodology? They can always make their own posts/videos/media doing it the way she should’ve, rather than putting all efforts into ignoring her main points.

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I know it’s a nit-pick, but a stigma is a negative trait. A stigmata is a spontaneously-appearing wound mimicking those inflicted on Jesus Christ (or, less often, one of the saints). Different things.

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Rawrasaur said on June 3rd, 2013 at 3:48 pm

My problem with Sarkeesian’s work is how she basically conflates all of video games with some of the more problematic (though, granted, popular) genres. That’s disingenuous and unfair, especially when there are entire genres of games where the trope does not apply (RTS, Simulation, Puzzle, rhythm and beat, party, fighting, etc.), but also many positive examples of games in the example genres where such tropes do *not* happen (Remember Me, Tomb Raider, Uncharted, etc.) or are even inverted (Super Princess Peach, Final Fantasy X-2).

It basically comes across as a one-sided argument where she refuses to acknowledge or engage in any actual discussion. Some folks are ok with that, but I’m not.

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@Rawrasaur:

I think it’s premature to conclude that Sarkeesian won’t address games that don’t have damsels in distress, and inaccurate to claim that she’s applying her statements to the entire medium of video games.

The title of the series is “Tropes vs. Women in Video Games.” That’s enough right there to tell you that the series is not about video games as a whole, but this one specific topic (tropes and women) within the broader subject of video games.

It’s like if wrote a paper called “Feathers in the Animal Kingdom,” and somebody complained that I completely ignored squids even though they’re animals. Well, squids don’t have feathers, so it’s less a matter of omission and more a matter of irrelevance.

Moreover, Sarkeesian’s specific focus is on tropes that work against women (hence “vs.”). So that’s more like if my paper was called “Feathers used for Flight in the Animal Kingdom,” and somebody complained that I didn’t bring up flightless birds, such as penguins. Because obviously I’m insinuating that squids and penguins use feathers to fly.

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JCHandsom said on June 3rd, 2013 at 4:24 pm

@Trevelers

Imagine the reaction if she did the “Tropes vs. Women” videos.

XD

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Joke’s on you, Jim. Squids do have a “quill” on the inside. I can’t believe you ignored them in your paper on a technicality like that.

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Also, Tomb Raider has a DiD character.

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Rawrasaur said on June 3rd, 2013 at 6:13 pm

@Jim Smith: She’s had a year of research and production time and ~50 minutes of edited video to do so, but she hasn’t yet. Call me impatient for thinking that she can do better than produce roughly 8.3 seconds of footage per day.

I suppose I was just mistaken about the scope of what she was trying to produce. I thought that exploring these concepts would include the good and the bad, as well as trope inversions and counterexamples. Something that would more easily foster constructive discussion. I thought that it would at least be as good as the TVTropes.org pages. I guess I was wrong.

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I, for one, was hoping for her to spend an entire video listing all the video games that don’t have characters and thus have no characterization of male or female.

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@Rawrasaur:

She’s had a year of research and production time and ~50 minutes of edited video to do so, but she hasn’t yet. Call me impatient for thinking that she can do better than produce roughly 8.3 seconds of footage per day.

But see, those are two unrelated complaints. First, that she won’t ever cover certain topics at all. Second, that she’s taking too long to finish. You can’t use one to justify the other–the fact she’s taking so long makes it impossible at this stage to be sure what she will or won’t address by the time she’s finished. As I recall it’s a 15-part series or something, and she’s only made two videos so far.

And yeah, the videos are slow. So what? Even if she were wasting time, it’s not my time, so it doesn’t make any difference to me. All that concerns me is the substance of her arguments, not the manner in which she delivers them. If I were paying for this stuff, I might have cause to complain, but I didn’t fund her Kickstarter, so I don’t.

I suppose I was just mistaken about the scope of what she was trying to produce. I thought that exploring these concepts would include the good and the bad, as well as trope inversions and counterexamples. Something that would more easily foster constructive discussion. I thought that it would at least be as good as the TVTropes.org pages. I guess I was wrong.

Seems to me you heard the word “trope” and automatically expected more of that other thing that has “trope” in the name, which is specious reasoning. (Especially since you must have also heard the “vs. women” part and somehow took that to include “vs. men” and “in favor of women.”) You’re basically dismissing her argument because it’s not what you expected to hear, rather than considering it on its own merits.

It’s like if I say “oranges are good for you,” and you decide that I’m wrong only because you were hoping I’d talk about apples. Your disappointment, however valid, would not invalidate my point.

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Lindsey said on June 3rd, 2013 at 7:36 pm

Super Princess Peach?! That’s your best counterargument?

I had a more articulate reply but honestly I don’t think you’re very good at video games.

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A: It centers the argument on the trope, and not the specific instances of the trope. Say she picked just a handful.

Then all the easily-offended gamers would be saying “Why does she only focus on a handful of games? It’s unrepresentative! She needs more examples!”

Speaking of which…

Rawrasaur: That’s disingenuous and unfair, especially when there are entire genres of games where the trope does not apply (RTS, Simulation, Puzzle, rhythm and beat, party, fighting, etc.), but also many positive examples of games in the example genres where such tropes do *not* happen (Remember Me, Tomb Raider, Uncharted, etc.) or are even inverted (Super Princess Peach, Final Fantasy X-2).

She’s already said the next part will look at games that subvert or reverse the Damsel in Distress model. It’s right there at the end of part 2 (and mentioned briefly at the end of part 1 as well).

It seems like those might be important things to acknowledge for somebody who’s so interested in engaging in actual discussion.

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I also hoped that Tropes vs. Women would be similar to TV Tropes. Instead, it didn’t include any Troper Tales or even reference classic tropes like the 2nd Law of Inverted Lampshade Hanging!

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There’s four possible gender combinations for the Ico Yorda pair. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to criticize ICO for choosing the most gender-normative choice of genders.

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>”or how he knows she is cherry-picking data to support a predetermined conclusion”

Anyone who has actually played videogames, unlike Sarkeesian, can see that she’s cherry-picking.

Her videos don’t even count as logical fallacies, they’re more akin to apish shit-flinging.

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Acabaca — I don’t understand you. I mean, I really don’t understand you. Where are you coming from? What were you looking for?

Because when I went to watch the video, I was expecting her to identify various tropes used related to Damsel-In-Distress and then give a number of examples of them. That’s what I was promised, that’s what I got. “Cherry picking” is not a reasonable complaint in my mind.

I personally found it clear that she was going to be talking about the DiD tropes, (and where they are found in video games), and NOT the video games (and the tropes that they use). Which is not to say that I wouldn’t love to have her tackle, say, “Tropes of Women in The Elder Scrolls Series.” But she’s openly defined her focus as very narrow: the subset of tropes connected to Damsels in Distress. Anything that ISN’T one of those isn’t relevant, and she’s only 67% of her way through, or perhaps even less.

So I can understand that you’re disappointed that you didn’t get what you want, but I do want you to realize: she’s giving exactly what she promised. That you wanted something else isn’t her fault.

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highlyverbal said on June 4th, 2013 at 11:02 am

A simple search on “acabaca” reveals more troll-like behavior… e.g.

– Trayvon Martin’s tragic death

“The true villain in this story is the media, which wasted no time at all trying to escalate a fairly simple manslaughter into an all-out race war just to bump ratings a tiny bit higher.”

– on “nice guys” blaming women for no sex

I think the lot of you are confusing “thinking you are owed sex” and “fucking WANTING SEX like a normal goddamn human being”.

– Defending Scott Adams’ sock puppets

“I’ve been in the habit of creating multiple online identities, having them argue against each other about issues I don’t have a strong opinion of my own on, and attach myself mentally to whichever side seems to be winning.”

– Thread-jacking from the magic cards being too Dem-favorable

“Oh, and to jump from that subject to another one entirely, the thing with gay marriage is that marriage isn’t merely a sentimental thing. A married couple is, from the society’s perspective, an abstract unit that produces new citizens, a baby machine if you will. Until gays get artificial semination/womb-renting rights, ie. the ability to legally produce new citizens, they’re never going to be _really_ married as far as the society’s structure is considered, and if they’re not, calling them “married” just causes confusion. Things should be called by their right name.”

– on the NBA’s overpaid players

Nobody deserves to be paid money for sports. Not players, not team owners, nobody. You want to play sports, sure, fine, but do it on your own dime and get a real job you lazy bum.

– on the non-white Spiderman

“So let me get this straight… They replace a beloved character and nobody is allowed to dislike this move because the replacement is black, and that automatically makes it okay?”

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Christian Williams said on June 4th, 2013 at 11:22 am

@acabaca
Anyone who has actually played videogames, unlike Sarkeesian, can see that she’s cherry-picking.

If you translate ‘cherry-picking’ as ‘taking a relatively small sampling of a larger # of examples’ then sure, she’s cherry-picking.

Your response, to me, is honestly only slightly less offensive than the ones filled with slurs, threats, and attacks. Why? Because it’s so intellectually dishonest as to not be worth considering.

I play video games, you play video games, I’m fairly certain that a large number of people on this thread play video games, if not all. I’m pretty sure that we can agree that, in games featuring characters (i.e. not sims, strategies, RTS) there is a tendency for female characters to not be fully realized. They are often only featured as DiD, or as eye candy, and pretty often they’re killed off solely to serve as motivation for the main (male) character.

If you want to talk about whether this is a problem or not? Fine, let’s do that.

If you want to talk about whether it’s economics, sexism, laziness, or just tradition that drives it? Let’s do that.

If you want to point out that there are many games where the death that drives the hero isn’t the death of a woman or lover, but is instead the death of a male relative or father figure? Bring that argument, it’s not a bad one actually. Mind you, those are outnumbered by the others, but it’s at least an argument.

If you want to talk about how the DiD trope goes beyond video games, and that there are aspects of it in the monomyth / Hero’s Journey, and talk about it’s relevance to Campbell’s work? Hey, I’m game, let’s do that to.

You can even fall back on the fact that there are really only ‘x’ number of stories in fiction, and two of the prominent archetypes are ‘revenge for wrongs done’ and ‘rescuing of a loved one’, so it’s unfair to call out videogames specifically for featuring those archetypes.

You could even, if you were of an enlightened sort of mindset, say ‘Yes, this probably is a problem, I haven’t really seen that before, but I’ll grant it. So what, exactly, do you propose can be done about it?’ Because for me that’s the question, because it’s not just an answer to make more FemShep’s or Lara Crofts.

These are all reasonable arguments to make, and they’re discussions that I would love to have, and are things I’m hoping Sarkeesian hits on later in her series.

But to say: ‘Oh she’s cherry-picking examples that suit her cause, this isn’t a trend in games, and even if it’s a trend it’s not a problem’. That’s just pure sophistry, or y’know ‘apish shit-flinging’.

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mygif

I actually don’t have anything specifically against him, other than as the latest in the number of people to accuse her of deliberately making a list of times that video games use Damsel In Distress tropes, in her video about the Damsel In Distress tropes that video games use.

Of course, having become a feminist, I’ve already gotten over most of the initial blind backlash that one goes through when realizing that they’ve subconsciously been oppressing others without intending to. I suppose I can’t blame those who haven’t gotten over that yet, for going through the same process I did.

… provided, of course, they’re going through the process rather than bouncing off of it and doubling down on the belief that there’s no way they could be participating in something harmful to others, because they don’t MEAN to.

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mygif

It’s a mistake arguing about whether she’s right about any particular game. Obviously you can make a good game that uses the damsel in distress trope, and you can make a game that appears to use it but subverts it.

The question is not whether any particular use of the trope is good or bad, but why the trope is so ubiquitous and whether we can change the culture so that roles of female characters in games aren’t so limited and so negative.

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mygif
highlyverbal said on June 5th, 2013 at 3:17 am

It was a sincere (but perhaps unkind) answer to: “Where are you coming from?”

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