So Anita Sarkeesian in her latest NYU talk aired her opinion on what needs to change in videogames and the industry itself. Instead of reading through the entire thing, here is an abridged version of what she believes needs to change. For discussion sake I will add my replies below each bullet point to make things easier.
- Avoid the “Smurfette principle”. Don’t have just one female character in a videogame, let alone one whose personality is more or less “girl” or “woman.”
The above might be true for some video game franchises, but they are the exception not the norm. There are plenty of franchises that have more than one female character for example. Final Fantasy, Gears of War, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Skyrim and Fallout just to mention but a few. There are literately hundreds of good examples out there and in this case those examples far outnumber those mentioned by Anita. So the above mentioned point is the exception not the norm.
- Lingerie is not armour” (Dress female characters as something other than sex objects.)
This I can agree with 100%, but having a scantily clad female on screen does not always serve to objectivity females or titillate the player. It is also dependant on plot, story or setting of the videogame. Good example of this would be the strip club in Hitman: Absolution and pretty much any fantasy/medieval brothel setting. The portrayal of sex and sexuality in a videogame needs to fit with a game’s story, otherwise I drop it like a bad habit. And most if not all gamers feel the same way as I do about the subject.
- Have female characters of various body types
As technology improves so does the animators and creators abilities to improve on character animation and models. And while I would have agreed with the above a few years back things have been changing albeit slowly. Anita most notably forgot, that most modern day MMO’s and role-playing games allow you to change and set your body type. Be it slim or overweight. And there are plenty of these characters in single player games as well for instance: Hilda in Shadow Hearts: From the New World, Princess Spumoni from Little King’s Story, Princess Theredras, in the World of Warcraft and Fat Princess. And yet again it did not take me long to mention just a few.
- Don’t over-emphasize female characters’ rear ends, not any more than you would the average male character’s.
I really don’t see an issue staring at a sexy woman’s “rear end “while playing videogames, I am after all a hot blooded male. I actually prefer playing with female characters, especially when playing something like an MMO or a Role Playing Game. As I will be spending many hours playing, so I might as well have something easy on the eyes and visually pleasing while I do. I would rather stare at a woman’s ass then a guy’s ass if I am going to spend hundreds of hours playing. Does that make me a misogynistic woman hater? No. It means I appreciate the female form in all its shapes and sizes. The fact of the matter is that more options should exist for those people who want them, we cannot deny people these options because we are not comfortable with them.
- Include more female characters of colour.
Shinobu from No More Heroes, Storm from Marvel vs Capcom 3, Vanessa from Virtua Fighter, Elena from Street Fighter and Gloria from Devil May Cry, Angel Rosa from Condemned 2, Rochelle from Left 4 Dead, Aveline de Grandpré from Assassin’s Creed III: Liberation. There are plenty of female characters of colour in videogames, and just like I mentioned in the first bullet point, you can also decide to play a characters of colour in games like Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Skyrim and Fallout. Or any MMO for that matter.
- Animate female characters to move the way normal women, soldiers or athletes would move.
No one person irrespective of sex or gender moves in the same way. From the way we walk to the way we run it is very different from person to person. It is pretty unique purely because each of us woman or man are built differently be it large small, short or tall. So you will never find two people who run or walk the same. And expecting developers to be able to fulfil such a request is impossible the technology is just not there yet. The female body simply has more bounce in it than its male counterpart. Is it amplified in video games? Sure! I am also pretty sure more people have watched my wife’s chest bounce than they have seen my junk jiggle.
- Record female character voice-over so that pain sounds painful, not orgasmic
I agree with the above point, especially when it comes to fighters. But you also have to take into account where most of these fighting games originate from Japan. The Dead or Alive franchise is a perfect example, it is profoundly sexist but so are a lot of things from Japan. You just need to open the PlayStation Store to be convinced that sexism in western gaming is nothing compared with Asia. But yet again it is an exception not the norm, and something we see (or hear) less from when it comes to western developers. If someone wants to interpret something like grunting as sexual, there is no stopping them from doing so. Case in point female tennis players playing against each other, change the context and imagery and it takes on a whole different meaning.
- Include female enemies, but don’t sexualize those enemies.
Why cannot we sexualize female enemies? Isn’t a woman’s greatest weapon her sexuality? Isn’t that why they make great spies in real life? Isn’t that the one thing she can pretty much use on any man with almost 100% success? So why if it applies to real life then why should it be any different in videogames? There is no denying that sexuality can be powerful, we just have to look to other entertainment forms movies like James Bond for example, and to see that using one’s sexuality as a weapon can be a powerful tool in the hands of a protagonist. So I ask again why not be allowed to use it in videogames?
She also made a few other comments I would like to address below:
“Sarkeesian said, “but I seriously doubt people from Gamergate’s intentions of coming to an event where I am speaking…I think if anyone in this audience is here for Gamergate they are not here because they genuinely care and want to learn. They are coming here to be, like, ‘oh my god, that woman, that horrible evil woman that’s ruining video games.'”
Anita maybe Gamergate supporters like myself would be more open to dialogue when you yourself becomes more open to it, instead of not granting interviews to videogame orientated pod casts and granting interviews to media corporations that are known for their skewed point of view when it comes to videogames. But you do this because you can control the environment and the narrative, you can move the discussion in the direction you want it to go instead of the direction it needs to go.
“At her talk, she showed a photo of herself as a kid, playing the Super Nintendo with a childhood friend. She recounted her efforts to get her parents to buy her a Game Boy. She talked about getting nostalgic while in college and buying a Super Nintendo to play Super Mario World. She described her relationship with gaming as “complicated,” credited the Wii for getting her back into gaming and showed a slide of Mario Kart Wii, World of Goo, Guitar Hero and Angry Birds. She said that she knew that some people didn’t consider those “real” games but that she counted them as some of her favourites.”
Anita in 2011 you stated: “I don’t like video games and I don’t know much about them” Then in 2015 you said you played video games but did not consider yourself a gamer. Going back to clarify a fairly clear statement claiming you meant something else is called back-pedalling. People would like some clarification on this.
“She would later emphasize the idea that “you can love something and be critical of it.” That, she said, “is so important to what I do and is really important to engaging with any kind of pop culture.”
I am very critical of my chosen hobby. But attempting to belittle videogames and the industry who work so hard to make it a success is not how you do it. I don’t think anyone wants there to be less women or poorly represented women in games or any other media for that matter. But just because you (Anita) is offended by something, does not automatically make it offensive to others. Also Anita you have not engaged with anyone, you choose to not interact with the majority of us and rather opted for the minority.
In closing Anita you are too toxic of an individual to be the one to highlight these issues in the gaming industry, there are times I don’t even think you understand your own arguments or the videogame industry for that matter. This is just you picking certain franchises to fit your arguments and narrative. And you don’t really need to look hard to find good examples which supports my statements. You simply don’t know gaming as well as we do and you don’t seem to respect it. The many problems gaming has are almost all related to one another, and you can’t easily go about fixing one without having an impact on the others and vice versa.