Anita Sarkeesian and Tropes vs. Women in Video Games
The Kickstarter That Started It All
On May 17, 2012 a new Kickstarter project was launched by Anita Sarkeesian. Sarkeesian is a self-described feminist pop culture media critic who produces an ongoing web series from a feminist/fangirl perspective and maintains a popular website called Feminist Frequency.
The project was called Tropes vs. Women in Video Games and promised to "explore five common and recurring stereotypes of female characters in video games".
The project's initial request to research the tropes and produce high quality web videos was for $6,000. By June 16, 2012 the project had received $158,920 amid considerable controversy.
Very soon after Sarkeesian launched her campaign and publicized it through her social media channels, she received an incredible level of backlash. Her Wikipedia site was vandalized and her YouTube account was filled with hateful messages tageting her, feminism, andwomen more broadly. Images and games began popping up on the internet that included pornography and violence. Sarkeesian documented and publicized these attacks on her website and Kickstarter page.
- Harassment via Wikipedia Vandalism
- Image Based Harassment and Visual Misogyny
- Harassment, Misogyny and Silencing on You Tube (this one is a large file, give it time)
The abuse suffered by Sarkeesian served to increase her support and she became a media spokesperson for sexism in video games, online harassment, and cyber mobs. Sarkeesian maintains a "Media Round-up" of her appearances on her website. Below are links to many of them.
- GameSpot: From Samus to Lara: An Interview With Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency
- Erich Sherman on PMS clan: How Anita Sarkeesian funded a project about video game sexism, and ignited an internet firestorm
- Destructoid: Interview: Anita Sarkeesian, games, and Tropes vs.Women
- GamesIndustry International: Woman Vs. Internet: How Anita Sarkeesian beat the trolls
- Wired: Feminist take on games draws crude ridicule, massive support
- The Guardian: Anita Sarkeesian interview: 'The word "troll" feels too childish. This is abuse'
- New Statesman: Dear The Internet, This Is Why You Can't Have Anything Nice
- Globe and Mail: Feminist pop-culture critic faces off against sexist gamers
- The Guardian: If you think sexism's OK in games, you may be in the wrong century
- Slate: Online misogyny
- Maclean's: Tropes vs. Women: How misogynist trolls accidentally funded feminism
- Forbes: Winning Without Cheat Codes: Jay Smooth On Gaming And Harassment
Other Game Industry Sites:
- Kotaku: Awful Things Happen When You Try to Make a Video About Video Game Stereotypes
- Rock Paper Shotgun: Tropes Vs. Women In Video Games Vs the Internet
- Border House: This Week In Harassment
- Polygon: Anita Sarkeesian shares the graphic, violent threats that fill her Twitter feed
The episode also sparked connected stories and deeper considerations of the culture of video games. These are archived under the post 'Sexist Culture...More Generally''.
So what does this have to do with the quality of life of people who make video games?
Women are underrepresented in the video game workforce and the perceived (or actual), implicit (or explicit) culture of gaming is connected to that fact. Movement into careers are often considered to be a pipeline where early experiences influence future choices. Most people who end up making video games for a living are avid game players and game dev hobbyists. There are many places for the pipeline to break for women if: a) they do not identify with, or are actively repulsed by what they see in video games and therefore do not play them; b) if they would like to play, but are treated poorly in the game community; and c) if they are a lost voice in attempts to change the representation of female characters.
Women bring different perspectives to a workplace largely because they still assume the dominant role in the reproductive labour of care giving and household maintenance. Many of the changes that we see in modern workplaces around family-friendly policies, work-life balance, flexible work schedules, anti-discrimination and anti-harassment policies, pregnancy leave, etc. have come about because of the massive influx of women into the working population over the past few decades. The presence of women and their voices have pushed various agendas forward. Because the game industry remains dominated by younger men, the issues of quality of work life are more easily brushed aside and subsumed in the long hours work culture.
The Part I of this topic discusses the harassment that Anita Sarkeesian received in setting up her kickstarter project to make a video series of the common tropes of women in video games. This post will track some of the commentary on the videos.
Note that this topic has received considerable attention on the internet and it is impossible to catch everything!
Damsel in Distress Part 1
- Anita Sarkeesian on Feminist Frequency: Mar 7, 2013: Damsel in Distress (part 1) - Tropes vs Women
- Mathew Jones on Gameranx: Mar. 8, 2013: Comments Aren't Disabled: Here's What People Are Saying About Tropes vs Women
- Sarah Brin on The Creator's Project: May 10, 2013: Feminism and Videogames: A Look At Anita Sarkeesian's Tropes vs. Women Series
- Christopher Carter and Brodie Gibbons on Dusty Cartridge: Apr. 9, 2013: A Response to Anita Sarkeesian's 'Tropes vs. Women in Video Games'
Damsel in Distress Part 2
- Anita Sarkeesian on Feminist Frequency: May 28, 2013: Damsel in Distress (part 2) - Tropes vs Women
- Solomon Wong on Be Young & Shut Up: May 30, 2013: On The Legitimate Criticism of Tropes Vs Women In Games
- JJ Wang on Gamasutra: May 29, 2013: A Fictionist Perspective on Sarkeesian's Part 2
Damsel in Distress Part 3
- Anita Sarkeesian on Feminist Frequency: Aug 1, 2013: Damsel in Distress (part 3) - Tropes vs Women
- Maggie Freleng on Vitamin W: Aug. 12, 2013: Damsel in Distress Role Reversal in Video Games Still Reeks of Sexism
Ms Male Character
- Anita Sarkeesian on Feminist Frequency: Nov 18, 2013: Ms. Male Character - Tropes vs. Women
Women as Background Decoration Part 1
- Anita Sarkeesian on Feminist Frequency: Jun 16, 2014: Women as background decoration (part 1) - Tropes vs Women
- Kristin Bezio on The Learned Fangirl: June 18, 2014: Digital Decorating: Sarkeesian's "Women as Background Decoration: Part 1"
Woman as Background Decoration Part 2
- Anita Sarkeesian on Feminist Frequency: Aug 25, 2014: Women as background decoration (part 2) - Tropes vs Women
- Cory Doctorow on Boingboing: Aug. 26, 2014: How games' lazy storytelling uses rape and violence against women as wallpaper
- Evan Narcisse on Kotaku: Aug. 27, 2014: The Problem With 'The Casual Cruelty' Against Women in Video Games
- Sarah Gray on Salon: Aug. 26, 2014: Tackling the terrible sexism in video games: Women are portrayed as sexual playthings or victims of violence
- Philip Kollar on Polygon: Sep. 1, 2014: Saints Row developer: 'Sarkeesian is right'
The Scythian - Positive Female Characters in Video Games
- Anita Sarkeesian on Feminist Frequency: Mar 31, 2015: The Scythian - Positive female characters in video games
Jade - Positive Female Characters in Video Games
- Anita Sarkeesian on Feminist Frequency: May 11, 2015: Jade - Positive female characters in video games
Women as Reward
- Anita Sarkeesian on Feminist Frequency: Aug 31, 2015: Women as reward - Tropes vs Women
- Jessica Conditt on Engadget: Aug. 31, 2015: New 'Feminist Frequency' video examines 'women as reward'
- Damon Beres on Huffington Post: Aug. 31, 2015: Women are prizes in video games - and that should bother you
- Tom Pitt on The Independent: Sept. 3, 2015: As a male gamer, I agree: gaming does have a problem with using women as rewards
- Meghan Murphy on Feminist Current: Sept 8, 2015: Anita Sarkeesian's new video takes on male entitlement
Women as Reward - Special DLC Mini-Episode
- Anita Sarkeesian on Feminist Frequency: Sept 14, 2015: Women as Reward - Special DLC Mini-Episode
Strategic Butt Coverings:
- Anita Sarkeesian on Feminist Frequency: Jan 19, 2016: Strategic Butt Coverings - Tropes vs Women in Video Games
- Joe Blevins on A.V. Club: Jan 21, 2016: Feminist Frequency takes on “strategic butt coverings” in video games
Body Language & The Male Gaze
- Anita Sarkeesian on Feminist Frequency: Mar 31, 2016: Body language and the male gaze
Lingerie is not Armor
- Anita Sarkeesian on Feminist Frequency: June 6, 2016: Lingerie is not armor
Are Women Too Hard to Animate?
- Anita Sarkeesian on Feminist Frequency: July 27, 2016: Are women too hard to animate?
Jessica Lachenal on The Mary Sue: July 27, 2016: Feminist Frequency Tackles the Age-Old Question: “Are Women Too Hard to Animate?”
All the Slender Ladies: Body Diversity in Video Games
- Anita Sarkeesian on Feminist Frequency: Sept 1, 2016: All the slender ladies: Body diversity in video games