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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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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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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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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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