Video games are arguably one of the best forms of expressive media in existence. Gaming allows an individual to merge between the lines of immersion and manipulation to fabricate an interactive world for him or her to explore.
From role-playing games to first-person shooters to racing and fighting games, any form of activity can easily be found to enjoy within the medium. Despite its appeal, only one gender, male, has been universally acknowledged for playing games.
Anita Sarkeesian, a blogger and advocate for female equality, noted the difference and examined the culture in detail through her blog. She began a Kickstarter campaign to fund a video series to showcase the negative and misogynist portrayal of women in video games. She surpassed her goal of $6,000 to pledges, amounting to almost $160,000.
Two videos were created by Anita, both highlighting the use of scandalously-dressed women for sexual means as well as “background decoration” for mostly male protagonists in several popular game series, including “Fable”, “Dragon Age”, “Grand Theft Auto”, “Fallout”, “Assassin’s Creed” and “Mass Effect”.
Both videos range in analysis from highlighting the triviality of the frequent “damsel in distress” trope to examining the disturbingly high use of sexual violence and strip clubs, prostitutes and brothels solely for the player’s entertainment.
Anita argues in her videos how developers create these elements to appeal to the male audience. They are normalizing and advocating a misogynist portrayal of women, isolating even more women from entering the medium, which is already male-dominated.
Both videos, a two-part series, have garnered much attention, but the most recent has gone ablaze within the video game community. Game developers Tim Schafer (“Grim Fandango”, “Psychonauts”), Neil Druckmann (“Uncharted 2”, “The Last of Us”) and Steve Jaros (“Saints Row”) as well as writer Joss Whedon (“Firefly”, “The Avengers”) stated the validity of Sarkeesian’s statements and urged any professional to view the videos and consider implementation of her words into future writing and gaming projects.
Although many professional journalism and gaming studios are recognizing the creditability of her statements, many gamers have back-lashed against Sarkeesian and her videos.
Some gamers have launched a flood of harassments onto Anita’s videos from angrily jostling how she will “ruin gaming” to rape and death threats causing her and her family to leave their home for safety.
While furious gamers argue that misogyny does not exist within gaming, their vicious threats of sexual violence therein highlight the irony of their statements. By their reactions, they prove Sarkeesian’s point: the prominent existence of misogyny within gaming culture.
Arguments flourish that sexism is simply a part of life, suggesting this should allow or condone such representation of women to continue. Opposers continue that equality is absent in all aspects of life, so demanding political correctness in regards to women’s rights deters the creative process.
By lewd depictions of women, adversaries claim it is depicting an accurate, realistic view of females.
Advocates in Sarkeesian’s favor state that though tragedies such as racism and child abuse occur, to promote its use to appeal to an audience is considered injustice, and the continued poor representation of women in gaming should also be considered as such.
Examples of excellent games without poor depiction in gaming exist (and do quite well), from “Portal 2” and “The Last of Us” to the “Walking Dead: A Telltale Game Series”.
Despite the numerous hostile responses to Sarkeesian’s words, countless game developers and companies have resolved to make their games more thoughtful and promised to help defend Sarkeesian online through messages within forums and social media sites to help end continued threats.