If you’re into gaming and on social media at all, you’ve probably heard of Anita Sarkeesian’s Women vs. Tropes in Video Games series, if only for the huge swath of angry gamers it leaves in its wake. See, Sarkeesian dares to suggest that a vast majority of video games, beloved and otherwise, are quite, shall we say, problematic in the way they treat women, and she uses example after example from game after game – Mario to Watch Dogs and everything in between. While for many people this seems pretty obvious, and even more so once she’s drawn our eyes to it, it enrages a certain segment of gamers who like their games as they are. I won’t go into the entire controversy, because it’s been raging since Sarkeesian’s kickstarter several years ago. This is a great rundown of it and why it’s so toxic (language warning).
Anyway, the latest iteration of the Women vs. Tropes in Video Games series came out yesterday, and it’s one of the best (and most difficult to watch) of the series. It’s part 2 of a miniseries on Women as Background Decoration, which basically looks at the way women are often treated as disposable in action games – there merely to be attacked, beaten, raped, and killed, and often depicted in a sexualized manner. It’s important to note, as always, that Sarkeesian enjoys gaming herself, often including the games she uses as negative examples in her videos. I personally am a huge fan of Red Dead Redemption, which gets called out numerous times in the segment. The point is not that these negative elements necessarily mean it’s a bad game, but just how pervasive these storytelling elements are in gaming, to the point that they pop up when there’s literally no reason for them to be there. This is a difficult episode to watch, and it carries a serious trigger warning for violence against women.
If you’re unfamiliar with the series, this is the first one, which focuses on the storytelling trope of the Damsel in Distress. They’re all worth watching.
Note: I don’t moderate comments for disagreement or discussion, but I will be deleting comments with hate speech or slurs.