Beyond Female Harassment: How Gaming Can Stop Eating Itself


Anita Sarkeesian

I’ll begin in the thick of it: a week ago, feminist video blogger Anita Sarkeesian (@femfreq), notable for her Tropes vs Women in Video Games series, left her home in fear for her safety in the wake of violent threats against her and her family. You probably already know this. You probably already know that Sarkeesian has long been the target of threats and harassment, including a 2012 game entitled Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian. I will not link to it, but suffice it to say that it is self-explanatory. She has documented some of it here. You may even know that this most recent bout of threats of violence, sexual and non, came from an individual who made it clear to Sarkeesian that they had acquired her address, and that of her parents. This individual declared their intent to murder them.

carolyn petit gamespotIf there was any of that you did not know, please take a moment to sit, mouth agape, in rage and horror. However, if you’re barely surprised, no one could blame you. Not after thousands demanded that Carolyn Petit be fired for so much as suggesting that GTA V’s treatment of women is problematic, to say nothing of transphobic threats and harassment. Or after Miranda Pakozdi was harassed into quitting a video game tournament by her own team’s coach. You could probably name a million other incidents where someone in the gaming community has been abused, threatened, demeaned, or had their privacy invaded. All those events, recent and more distant, are tied together by the fact that the targeted persons dared to criticize or declare real the once-troubling-now-terrifying misogyny of “gamer culture”. Or they simply dared to be women in that culture.

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Hope the Game vs Tropes in Games

The climate surrounding video games today is characterized socially by the “Tropes vs Women in Video Games” series, which is digging ever more uncomfortably deep into the unsatisfying state of women in games. This leaves us all increasingly more aware of the universality of the problem. Part one of “Tropes vs Women in Video Games” is devoted to the Damsel in Distress, which is a theme investigated in a unique way by the new game Hope: The other side of adventure, developed by Mr. Roboto Game Studio (english translation.) By giving the player control of the princess locked in the tower, you are effectively locked in the tower with her. Continue reading

Tropes vs. Women in Video Games (Part 1) & Youtube Comments

It’s finally here: Part One of Anita Sarkeesian’s series about Tropes versus Women in Video Games! Many of you may remember the vast amount of hate Anita received while fundraising through Kickstarter for this series. At that point Anita hadn’t even stated any of her views on sexism in games, but she nonetheless received threats of murder, rape, and sexual assault, revealing just how strongly a video series like this was needed.

The first installment in the series discusses the well-used Damsel in Distress trope. Anita starts by tracing its roots back to ancient Greek legends to show just how deeply this trope permeates our culture. I won’t say any more about the video. Anita does a much better job of explaining the trope than I could ever do so you should really just watch the above video and check out the Tumblr blog for the series.

What I do what to address, however, is Anita’s choice to disable the YouTube comments for this video.

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