Tropes Versus Women in Games: Damsels in Distress
Feminist Video-Game Critic Anita Sarkeesian stood up last year to declare that A) that is a title that actually exists and that B) it’s a role that should be given a lot more attention that it is. She got her wish, but maybe should have been a little more careful what she wished for.
Online and on your local newsagent’s racks there are roughly as many sites dedicated to video games as there are movies; they all spruik the latest news, previews and reviews relevant to their medium, promoting as much as discussing the artform. There are however, also a number of pages – printed and digital – devoted to far deeper insights into film (or music, or novels; the specific example is extraneous), critical analysis and academic level research. Video games on the other hand are mostly seen as something of a more immature art – if in fact they are seen as ‘art’ at all – and so this sort of discussion is much harder to find, if it exists at all.
It was then, with great joy that many of us more serious minded gamers heard about her proposal – to start a series of in-depth investigations centered around the depiction of women in video games – and granted her over 2600% of the funding she requested to do so. It wasn’t going to fix the issue, nor satisfy every need for serious analysis but it was surely a start, something that should be supported for that very reason alone, even if this specifically isn’t exactly an issue that interests you personally. It seems though that an equal number – or at least an equally loud number, the internet’s anonymous model often skews signal and noise – of people were perturbed by the idea and set out to make Sarkeesian into a pariah by organizing online protests and creating games centred around punching a caricature of her (an honour normally reserved for dictators and political dissidents). And they say gamers are immature?
Fittingly though Sarkeesian isn’t demure, she didn’t wilt or falter in the face of this like the Damsels in Distress that she dedicates the debut episode of her program too; an episode which was first released today, March 8th, International Wwomen’s Day. As something of a wonk I found the video, which crafts a compelling narrative connecting the damaging depiction of women in gaming to that of other mediums present and mostly past, professional, insightful and quite interesting and so I thought that I would share it here; half to support Sarkeesian and her attempts at starting a deeper discourse and half to shove it in the face of her detractors. Hell, sometimes its satisfying to be immature. Check it out here: