“Don’t make the enemies or villains hyper-sexualized,” she said, “because again it creates a scenario in which violence against women is gendered and infused with elements of titillation. From what I've seen of it, The Puppeteer is a delightful upcoming PlayStation 3 game starring a boy. Leos tend to have almost a royal air about them. [31] Crash Override is a support group for victims of large scale online abuse formed by game developers Zoë Quinn and Alex Lifschitz in the wake of the Gamergate controversy. She recounted her efforts to get her parents to buy her a Game Boy. Giving players more playable female characters is the first step toward female characters, like their male counterparts, being defined more by who they are rather than simply by their gender.”, What Sarkeesian was talking about sounded like a quota, because, well, it is. Its creator was the feminist and critic Anita Sarkeesian, and these videos would become the next season of Feminist Frequency, an ongoing web series that “explores representations of … She said she’d spoken with “well-meaning” game developers about how to handle female enemies. Banner from Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs Women in Video Games Kickstarter campaign. 2. So it’s easy to see how two people might sit through the same Sarkeesian presentation and think “This completely matters” and “This doesn’t matter at all.”. Record female character voiceover so that pain sounds painful, not orgasmic, Include female enemies, but don't sexualize those enemies. How do you assess which portrayals of women in games attract or repel male or female gamers? She’s done this through a series of online videos for her non-profit, Feminist Frequency, and in lectures at conferences and even at some game studios. During an unscripted Q&A, she said that modern gaming’s depiction of women was really bad. “It actually isn’t equal.” Her view of how women are seen in much of society and culture is fundamental to her arguments: “Women are thought of and represented as sexual objects to be used by and for the sexual pleasure of others in society, and men are not viewed that way. [68], Speaking at the XOXO Festival in September 2014, Sarkeesian described the allegation that she and other women fabricated harassment as itself being a form of harassment. I actually had to learn a lot about video games in the process of making this.” (Correction - 8/13/16: The clip was from 2010, not 2011. Talk of gameplay brought Sarkeesian to her final point. Gamers are obviously debating this. [3][4] She later moved to California and identifies as Canadian-American. Under her breath she added: “I don’t even know if I want to say that now, but whatever.”, She said she’d “bought into the bogus myth that, in order to be a real gamer, you had to be playing GTA or Call of Duty or God of War or other testosterone-infused macho posturing games which often had a sexist, toxic culture that surrounded them. Would it be bad to have more playable female characters? ", "Why Gaming Culture Allows Abuse... and How We Can Stop It", "Tropes vs Anita Sarkeesian: on passing off anti-feminist nonsense as critique", "Anita Sarkeesian shares the most radical thing you can do to support women online", "Editorial: Utah's laws place gun rights over free speech", "Feminist Speaker Questions Utah's Campus Gun Laws", "Game critic Sarkeesian avoids Utah due to foolish gun laws. This coincided with the ongoing harassment of Zoë Quinn as part of the Gamergate controversy. Animate female characters to move the way normal women, soldiers or athletes would move. The organizers later revealed that they had received an anonymous bomb threat and that San Francisco police had swept the Moscone Center hall before the event proceeded. [25] In January 2015, as part of a $300 million effort to increase diversity and inclusivity in the technology sphere, Intel announced it would partner with Feminist Frequency and other groups to help promote increased career opportunities, engagement and positive representation for women and minorities in technology and gaming. [26][27], On January 23, 2015, Feminist Frequency issued its first annual report and announced they were planning two new video series tackling the "positive" portrayal of women in video games, as well as the "portrayal of masculine identities in games". If not, well, you’re unlikely to see much here you can back. Throughout her NYU talk I was struck by both her negativity and her positivity. [20] The threats and harassment she received in response generated widespread media attention, and resulted in her ultimately far exceeding her funding goal of $6,000. Anita Sarkeesian is an expert at feminism and video games and is not a con artist. Anita Sarkeesian: Tropes vs Women in Video Games Anita Sarkeesian is a powerful example of the positive ways in which the internet connects people and oers opportunities. [85][86] She was also nominated for the Ambassador Award at Microsoft's 2014 Women in Gaming Awards for her work. Apologies for the error.). First, she seemed to be challenging claims that she thinks games make people do things. [92] In May 2015, Cosmopolitan included her in its list of the "50 Most Fascinating People on the Internet". She spelled out what she wants to see done, what she thinks game developers should think about doing differently. I saw her trying to draw clear lines all throughout her NYU talk, and I could sense what a fraught endeavor that was. [80], Sarkeesian's Feminist Frequency blog was highlighted by Feminist Collections and Media Report to Women. And she rejected clothing female characters in cleavage-emphasizing armor whose “only functionality is to titillate young straight male player base.” For the latter, she said the amount of skin shown wasn’t the issue and recommended that game designers look to the outfits of real female soldiers and athletes for inspiration. By contrast, she praised the presentation of the female character in the new third-person game Life Is Strange. Don't over-emphasize female characters' rear ends, not any more than you would the average male character's. One: avoid violence in which women are framed as weak or helpless. That’s not really her point. Much of what she showed in them—the propensity for games to depict a disappointingly narrow range of female characters, of often using women in games as props to motivate players, of regularly sexualizing female characters to a comical degree—had rung true to me. There are seven main heroes. Sarkeesian was born in Canada and grew up near Toronto. Four main playable protagonists, one of them female. [7] On May 17, 2012, she began a Kickstarter campaign to fund a series of short videos that would examine gender tropes in video games that was featured as a campaign of note on the official Kickstarter blog. The list was a surprise—not really for its content but for its explicit charge for change. [54][55][56][57][58][59][60][61], In an August 2015 interview with The Guardian, Sarkeesian remarked of dealing with the pervasive harassment (her "new normal") that older mentors and feminists told her "We were dealing with that, but they were throwing rocks at us". As Sarkeesian pointed to fan-art that imagined Team Fortress 2's cast as being all women I thought about her position as an advocate. Her parents are Armenians from Iraq who emigrated to Canada in the 1970s. Amidst the backlash towards plot and design elements seen in leaked footage of The Last of Us II and fan speculation that feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian influenced the game’s development, a member of Naughty Dog’s development team has confirmed that … “Everything depends on framing, right? Well most likely she have never played a single video game in her hole life. Anita Sarkeesian remains a controversial figure in some circles, and her work is still being discussed and argued over, so I though it was time to take another look at her most well known series, Tropes vs Women in Video Games. Anita Sarkeesian (Photo credit: … [87][88], After the Utah State University death threats, Rolling Stone called her "pop culture's most valuable critic," saying that "the backlash has only made her point for her: Gaming has a problem". An NYU security guard stood in front of the audience, watchful, as she spoke. She called for more body diversity in female characters, lamenting the “Victoria’s Secret catalogue” physiques of so many playable women and yearning for the kind of bodies that the male characters in the upcoming Blizzard game Overwatch have. [15][17][18][19], Sarkeesian was inspired to start a video series on female representation in video games after she was invited to speak to developers at Bungie. For speaking engagements contact Soapbox Inc.. For literary inquiries contact Inkwell Management [8][13] Chris Suellentrop of The New York Times referred to the first four videos of the series as "essential viewing for anyone interested in video games", and cites it as the reason why he asked Nintendo producer Shigeru Miyamoto about the themes of damsels present in his games, to which he responded "I haven't given it a lot of deep thought over the years". Wells and Emma Goldman.[30]. [41][42] Sarkeesian responded to the threats against Guthrie in a statement to the Toronto Standard, condemning the widespread harassment she and other women have faced online. Media can inspire greatness and challenge the status quo or sadly, more often, it can demoralize and reinforce systems of power and privilege and oppression.”, And, second, it seemed to me she was being careful to clarify whether she loves games. They are brave, playful, leader, fun, warm, protective, generous, and charismatic. It’s a tricky argument, right? The metal detectors, and the overall heightened security presence at Sarkeesian’s talk, were impossible not to notice. The people who make Dragon Age didn’t get this kind of security. Anita Sarkeesian: ‘It’s frustrating to be known as the woman who survived #Gamergate’ The critic was viciously targeted by trolls after speaking out about sexist tropes in video games. "Harassment is the background radiation of my life," she later remarked in a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story on her work and the video game industry. The series examined common tropes in the depiction of women in media with a particular focus on science fiction. [7][8] Videos created for the site analyzed social and cultural gender structure and popular culture from a feminist standpoint, such as applying the Bechdel test to pictures nominated for the 84th Academy Awards in 2012 and highlighting Lego's role in reinforcing cultural norms. "[55][71][72][73][74], On October 29, 2014, Sarkeesian was interviewed on The Colbert Report where she discussed the harassment she suffered at the hands of GamerGate and her views on making video games more inclusive. [63][82] In 2013, Newsweek magazine and The Daily Beast named Sarkeesian one of their "125 Women of Impact". In her intro video she’s worried about her makeup. Can you guess what color the woman is?”, Several people in the audience shouted the predictable answer: “Pink!”. She has spoken to TEDxWomen, XOXO Festival, and the United Nations' Broadband Working Group on Gender, and appeared on The Colbert Report discussing her experiences of harassment and the challenge of attempting to improve gender inclusivity in gaming culture and the media. Gaming industry veteran Anita Sarkeesian launched a harassment hotline for the entire gaming industry amid a turning point in the industry.. In the middle of this tension, Anita Sarkeesian introduced a Kickstarter campaign for her Youtube series, Tropes vs. Women in Video Games, that … [32][33][34][35][36], One attacker created the computer game Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian, which prompted players to bloody a picture of Sarkeesian by clicking the mouse. You just don’t see anything approaching this variety of body types in weights and sizes with female characters.”, She pushed for more representation of women of color in games, and more that are neither reducing such women to ethnic stereotypes nor so divorced from their cultural history that it “is eased or invisible.” She praised Never Alone, a game featuring a female character from an Alaskan tribe. Attackers posted disparaging comments online, vandalized Sarkeesian's article on Wikipedia with racial slurs and sexual images, and sent Sarkeesian drawings of herself being raped by video game characters. For the last three years, Anita Sarkeesian has been talking about how women are treated in games and has slammed the widespread sexism she sees in the portrayal of female game characters. [43][44], Sarkeesian's elevated profile led to speaking engagements on sexual harassment and online communities at the TEDxWomen conference and several universities. Anita Sarkeesian. The Tropes vs Women project triggered a campaign of sexist harassment against Sarkeesian that included rape and death threats, hacking of her webpages and social media, and doxing. Developers, publishers and gamers could hear and decide for themselves what’s best to do. In conclusion, Anita Sarkeesian isn't the epitome of feminism or a representative for all ladies (and guys) who are upset with how women are portrayed in games. They are all color-coded. [9][10][11], In 2011, Sarkeesian partnered with Bitch magazine to create the video series Tropes vs. Women. I noted her words, about what “should be” and what “would be great” and it got me thinking again about the enthusiasm and anxiety people have about her influence. Sarkeesian’s list of eight things included several straightforward requests. [69][70], The Utah State University threats resulted in public attention to misogynistic and violent harassment on the Internet, along with the propriety of concealed weapons on university campuses. Anita Sarkeesian talked about her work as a feminist media critic trying to show the negative ways women are represented and then offer tools for how to make games better. “The ideal here,” she said, “is to design combatants who just happen to be women.”. Possibly GTA V was one of the only games in modern times where women were really objectified, they were used to regain health. Near the start of her talk, she apologized for being sick and said it was the first time she’d been ill in two years. By Anita Sarkeesian and Carolyn Petit Published Dec. 17, 2020 Updated Dec. 18, 2020 It should come as no surprise that 2020 was a monumental year for the video game industry. And in my experience, confident creators could deal with this kind of critique, could take from it what they found productive and stand up for their authorial independence about what didn’t mesh. I’d seen most of her Tropes gaming videos, of course, and, frankly, not had much issue with them. The first video in the Tropes vs Women in Video Games series was released on March 7, 2013. ), Have female characters of various body types. ... Anita Sarkeesian receives a Women’s Media Center Award in 2016 Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images. Anita Sarkeesian (/sɑːrˈkiːziən/; born 1983) is a Canadian-American feminist media critic and public speaker. Arguments about the depiction of women, however, will find a sympathetic ear among those who, like Sarkeesian, believe that less sexualized and more diverse presentations of women will make games more approachable—more fun—for more people. But in say, Watchdogs, the scene she uses in her video is one where the main character is trying to break up a human trafficking ring. “It’s as if the person directing the mo-cap session told the model to walk in the most seductive or sexy way possible rather than just asking her to walk the way a soldier or intergalactic bounty hunter or any ordinary woman going about her business might walk.”, Even sitting could be a gender issue, she showed. Sarkeesian talked about how a more expansive range of female characters can open games up to new stories and experiences, but she doesn’t flat-out say that it’d make an okay game more fun. At her talk, she showed a photo of herself as a kid, playing the Super Nintendo with a childhood friend. [16][81] In 2012, Gamasutra considered the harassment and success of Feminist Frequency a catalyst that led to new attention on the importance of diversity and inclusion in the gaming culture and industry. Anita Sarkeesian talks about exposing gaming’s most toxic trends with sheer data "A conversation happened in games that was previously only happening in the shadows." Inquiries. The increased volume and specificity of the harassment (including death threats) prompted Sarkeesian to leave her home. [79], On February 11, 2019, Sarkeesian appeared at the University of Alberta's Myer Horowitz Theatre with the presentation "I Am Tired: The Costs of Online Harassment" during the Level Up: Gender Based Violence Prevention Week. This video series is created by Anita Sarkeesian and the project was funded by 6968 awesome backers on Kickstarter.com. She said that she knew that some people didn’t consider those “real” games but that she counted them as some of her favorites. It was games like Grand Theft Auto where Anita was FORCED to turn. I don’t think there’s an easy answer, and it doesn’t seem to me like there’s a rule that would work across the board. This was a friendly and game-savvy crowd. Editor-in-Chief. “It should not be too much to ask for for representations of people of color whose cultural backgrounds are acknowledged and woven into their character in ways that are honest and validating.”. How do you balance creators’ freedom with the need or desire to open a game up to a broader audience? [64][65][66][67], Soraya Murray identified Sarkeesian as emblematic of "a burgeoning organized feminist critique" of stereotyped and objectified portrayals of women in video games. Her list was brand new. Sarkeesian never acknowledged the security, and she only briefly mentioned the online harassment she’s received for her work. “Just give players more diverse options. She complimented the latest Borderlands for upping the number of playable women heroes in each of the original base games from one to two (more if you count the DLC). Gender Breakdown of Games Featured at E3 2019. Why not sometimes let a character of any type be helpless or play up their gender?—and yet it also seemed to be the one where she was trying hardest to find ways through it and where she felt like there were the worst potential negative impacts. She fought back a bad cough throughout an hour-long presentation but frequently elicited applause or laughter as she spoke. In 2012, Sarkeesian was targeted by an online harassment campaign following her launch of a Kickstarter project to fund the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series. Clip- montage. Anita Sarkeesian zodiac sign is a Leo. I’d met her in person briefly last spring, before she won an Ambassador Award at the Game Developers Conference for her work critiquing video games. They both infer a lot from her analysis of games, but at her NYU talk she left no ambiguity. There’s a pre-Tropes vs. Women in Video Games clip, after all, of her introducing a video about gaming by telling a college class in 2010 that “I’m not a fan of video games. Anita receives at least 50 threats every 3 seconds. [63] Discussions occurred in a range of publications and outlets, including The New York Times, The Guardian and New Statesman. If you agree with her worldview, you’re likely with her on many or all of these eight things. ", "Anita Sarkeesian launching new video series focused on masculinity in games", "Anita Sarkeesian's next Feminist Frequency project tackles women's history", "Feminist Frequency and Crash Override Partnership", "In Virtual Play, Sex Harassment Is All Too Real", "Feminist Take on Games Draws Crude Ridicule, Massive Support", "Leveling (Up) the Playing Field: How Feminist Gamers Self-Identify and Learn in Online Communities", "Gamer campaign against Anita Sarkeesian catches Toronto feminist in crossfire", "Internet Trolls Up Their Harassment Game With, "Man charged with harassment after Twitter attacks", "Ruling in Twitter harassment trial could have enormous fallout for free speech", "Procès pour harcèlement criminel sur Twitter", "Anita Sarkeesian Responds to Beat Up Game, Online Harassment, and Death Threats on Stephanie Guthrie", "Toronto Tweeter Causes Uproar Over Violent "Beat Up Anita Sarkeesian" Game", "Feminist website creator to speak at LLCC Oct. 10", "Critic assails portrayal of women in video games", "The Most Dangerous Woman in Videogames - Anita Sarkeesian", "Hyper Mode: Anita Sarkeesian vs. In 2012, she was introduced to a larger audience after launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new web series exploring the negative tropes surrounding women in video games. Of all of Sarkeesian’s requests, I could see this being viewed as the most well-intentioned but creatively stifling one—Why not sometimes have a sexy female enemy? July 23 - August 22. That’s how she set up her first request to game developers: “Avoid the Smurfette principle,” a reference to both having just one female character in an ensemble cast and the character limitations that can spring from that. This free, nonprofit service comes from Anita Sarkeesian, the head of the Feminist Frequency who started a movement to expose sexism in games with … “When I say that media matters and has an influence on our lives, I’m not saying it’s a 1:1 correlation or a monkey-see, monkey-do situation,” she said, “but rather that media’s influence is subtle and helps to shape our attitudes, beliefs and values for better and for worse. 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