‘Positive Female Characters’ Is The New Sarkeesian Series

Previously, pop culture critic Anita Sarkeesian’s videos have focused on how problematic many games’ depiction of women characters can be, but a new companion series looks at the other side of the coin. The seven-minute first video in Positive Female Characters focuses on the wonderful, strange Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP [our review] and its stoic protagonist The Scythian.

The gentle, enthusiastic video examines how The Scythian, whose gender the game never makes a big deal out of and never resorts to stereotypical visual imagery for, doesn’t just “exist as somebody’s sister or wife or daughter, but rather she existed as an individual, and as a hero.” On top of that, S&S subverts genre expectations in terms of its protagonist’s journey, resisting the intrinsic power fantasy which tends to underpin the vast majority of ostensibly similar adventures.

Here it is. Please be warned that this video contains ending spoilers at about the halfway point – it does clearly warn when that’s about to happen, however.

What an excellent soundtrack that game has too. I even have it on vinyl, slovenly nerdy quasi-hipster that I am.

If you can’t or would prefer not to watch video, a full transcript is available here.

As you may notice in the intro/outro segments, we can likely expect to see Beyond Good & Evil, Portal and Mirror’s Edge in upcoming videos.

185 Comments

  1. Niko says:

    Love this game, and it’s one of those cases when a game’s better on a mobile device – there’s certain delight in rotating the tablet vertically to open the Megatome or start a fight.

    • Alec Meer says:

      Yeah, and tablet also has that window to another world feeling, which really suits this game. Didn’t entirely get on with the PC version, which is a shame.

  2. Eiv says:

    Nice to see Sarkeesian giving a more positive perspective of the games industry.

    • Shockeh says:

      Seconded. I approve entirely with Sarkeesian when it comes to the issues themselves, but I always feel she’s knowingly inciting the morons of the world to some extent (because bad PR is still PR) and that’s more damaging than helpful in the long run.

      To see her doing something talking positively is a much better idea, and might do a better job.

      • Niko says:

        Some morons get incited by just about anything when a woman starts talking about that, sadly. With that said, this series looks quite promising and interesting.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          More level headed people will still get incited when people lie over and over though, as she has proven to do in the past.
          Still I’ll agree, I’ve been saying for a while this issue needs to be given a more positive light. We keep hearing that there are all these women that feel under represented, yet every time the focus is in a negative way, bashing games that don’t do what they want, rather than focusing on games that do, which is much more constructive as it will encourage these games to be made.

          Yelling at developers on twitter and “bad pressing” them into changing their artistic vision is not something I can get behind. Using your voice to promote games that do what you are looking for can help encourage people to make future games in a similar vein and that actually encourages diversity, painting people as bigots and misogynists for enjoying something you don’t, does not.

          • Kala says:

            “painting people as bigots and misogynists for enjoying something you don’t, does not.”

            I think that’s how people have taken her videos, rather than what’s actually in them.

            She’s actually said it’s fine to enjoy something and find aspects of it problematic at the same time.
            Not that you are a bigot or a misogynist if you enjoy something.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Maybe not her videos specifically. That I will agree with. The common social justice narrative is definitely guilty of this though.
            link to twitter.com
            Sarkeesians boyfriend for example.

          • minkiii says:

            1) How are people going to realize what is negative in gaming if you do not point it out?
            Why is it wrong to point out, for example, that these corpses are sexualized, and these ones are not? As a developer, I find this stuff fascinating.
            2) Saying that GTA looks normal to gamers is STILL not the same thing as claiming that gamers are misogynistic…. and since when did McIntosh’s tweets become her responsibility anyway?
            3) Unless you are the developer, why would you take the criticism of a game personally? N.B: even the devs themselves should not really take the criticism personally, since sexism and racism in games usually occurs thru ignorance/ lack of awareness, rather than maliciously intentional. If it was INTENTIONAL they would have something to feel guilty about… but that probably only reflects a small proportion of her examples.

    • Winged Nazgul says:

      Positive, negative. She talks about issues that sorely needed to be discussed. That some people automatically lash out in the worst possible ways whenever they feel their status quo threatened is a huge reason why discussion is sorely needed.

      • Eiv says:

        I agree that It has to be discussed. We know that vitriolic asshats exist so we have to work with what we have.

        I think the original series wouldn’t have went down so bad if it had a positive aspect too. Gotta have a Positive with a Negative.

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          Ninja Dodo says:

          There were occasional positive examples sprinkled into the previous videos. Mass Effect got a mention… maybe we’ll see that return in this series. I liked the hypothetical “the princess who saves herself” game idea she described in I forget which video. I would play that.

    • Geewhizbatman says:

      Yes, finally–someone brave enough to step up and say that some games aren’t total dumpster fires in their representation of women.

      What I’m happy about is that she is continuing to do the work that she loves despite the vile response from the mass of internet-humanity. The implication that somehow the rape threats and abuse she suffered was just because she wasn’t [nice enough about video games] isn’t a line of thought I can get behind.

      While this new element of focus on more successful female characters is a good addition if used in the context of the whole series, which hopefully will become required viewing for budding game and character designers, it isn’t as impactful as pointing out the flaws. It acts as praise to those that are doing a better job of representation, which is a wonderful gift to give, but the most important thing a critic can do is criticize. Which is what she is, she is a cultural critic in the focus of video games–not a game rating service that is meant to give people ideas of what games to enjoy or avoid.

      Because, one of the problems that comes from a deep-seated problem like misogyny is that it self-perpetuates itself by creating a sense that it is the only option. While this video showcases the way in which a game can do it right–the reality is that there are limitless ways to represent women well and only a certain number of ways to do it horribly wrong. Her video series of Positive Female Characters should become redundant. So, (to add some creative explanation) while it might be nice to see a rainbow after the storm it really isn’t as helpful if your house is still on fire.

      Here, it is my belief that if you don’t: Make sure your female characters are in pink, have them only for sexual interest, allow them to gain character only to die and become a motivator, never represent a place of power either as a PC or a figure within the game, limit them to only one body type, unable to make action without a hero figure to help them, limit them to only virtuous or villainous roles, and don’t -always- put them in costumes that sexualize them—Then you’ve got a pretty good chance of making even a half-way decent female character. That is a tiny list of things in comparison to the massive possibility of success by simply avoiding the failed tropes.

      So, apologies for getting flustered about the issue. It is hard for me not to look at these kinds of comments and see the kind of, “Her problem was she didn’t smile enough,” rhetoric that makes it hard for people to stand up to poor representation and understanding not just in the world of video games. I am sure that wasn’t any of your intent but it still ruffled my possibly real, possibly metaphorical feathers.

      • AbsoluteShower says:

        “someone brave enough to step up and say that some games aren’t total dumpster fires in their representation of women.”
        Are you serious? That was pretty much exactly what happened as responses to her original vids.
        Not everyone who disagrees with her is a rabid misogynist.

      • ThatFuzzyTiger says:

        People stepped up with some fairly reasoned and sensible critique of her initial work. She refused to respond.

        People stepped up with *peer review* which more or less debunked her initial work. She refused to respond.

        She only responded by cherry picking the most vile and hateful tweets and publicising them.

        Nobody has the right to say the things that were said on twitter to another human being, and Anita did not deserve those things said to her. Do not for one second consider that I condone such things, I do not. But Anita has been careful to cultivate a specific line of response from her initial work, one that maximises her exposure and guarantees that she will continue to earn revenue. That’s called being in business for oneself and good self promotion.

        This video, whilst easily more positive and certainly much less provocative, would not garner a fraction of the attention it would have likely got had it been the -first- video she put out, rather than her original, more confrontational series because it does not attempt to incite or sow logical confusion about the message within.

        • RobF says:

          You’re not actually owed a response to critique and if someone takes no notice of that critique, either because it’s flat out misrepresenting what was said, barely grasping the basics of what’s discussed or accusing someone of cherry picking examples like a video series can exhaustively cover every single thing ever made and give it a mention rather than just punting out relevant examples that are -still- relevant even when you accuse them of cherry picking examples, you do not escalate things.

          It’s a video series not an academic journal, you do not start “peer reviewing” it because what the fuck even is that? That’s not how reasonable humans behave and the moment you step over that line, the moment you are no longer engaged in reasonable discussion. Go write a blog post, talk about it amongst yourselves, disagree. That’s how most people engage with things and it’s healthy enough. You aren’t owed a response from the person you’re disagreeing with though and you don’t get to be considered reasonable whilst demanding one.

          As it is, idiocy like that has meant actually having detailed nuanced discussion over this is now near on impossible. Which is, obviously, part of the point of screaming like this. It’s to shut the whole thing down. So stop that and stop pretending that “peer reviewing” a feminist 101 video series that barely rises above harmless at the best of times is some sort of thing normal functioning human beings do.

          • Distec says:

            This is kind of confusing for me. First of all, I don’t think the person you replied to demanded anything.

            And no, Anita doesn’t owe anybody a response. She is not obligated to get up and debate somebody. But, y’know, that’s usually a good way to test the strength of your arguments. I think it’s good to respond to criticism at least once, especially when I feel like some of it is entirely reasonable (note “reasonable” and not “right”). I would think her arguments are to convince people outside of those who already agree with her. Isn’t the goal to change minds? Isn’t part of her video series highlighting alleged problems that need fixing? If the work is important, then surely it demands defending?

            I’m a little perplexed by the idea that “peer reviewing” or any expressed counter-argument is somehow crossing the line and unreasonable, and has somehow degraded the conversation. It doesn’t matter if it’s a pop culture video series or an academic piece. “Who does that?” you ask. Well, I assume people who disagree with her! How is this different from any other person on the planet that publicly argues something, especially on the internet?

            Seems like a lot of fine lines are laid down to separate legitimate criticism from the escalation of idiocy you refer to… so many in fact that it often feels like the former is framed as less and less possible.

          • jonahcutter says:

            No, actually it’s vital for everyone to point out flaws in examples and thinking.

            Currently there is a dominant trend amongst gaming progressives (of which I would be considered one, though I am more of an old school liberal than anything) right now to hand-wave off all of the legitimate criticisms of Sarkeesian as misogyny. Or when when the critic is a woman, as the de-legitimzing “internalized misogyny”. But if there’s one single factor that removes nuance from the debate, it is this one. The absolute failure of the progressive and social justice communities to apply any critical analysis of Sarkeesian’s entry to the ongoing conversation.

            In short, if you want nuance, start practicing it. The critics of Sarkeesian-type thinking/feminism already are. You’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

            Here’s a good one. It’s a long, lengthy, and nuanced one. If it matters to you, it’s by a woman:

            link to metaleater.com

          • PancakeWizard says:

            “It’s a video series not an academic journal”

            That she wants taught in schools…

          • Muzman says:

            What percentage of schooling teaches from academic papers?

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            I’m sorry but you are incapable of looking at this impartially.
            When she painted videos critiquing her work as “harassment” she was clearly the one shutting down any rational discussion, not sure why you have it the other way around. There were lots of people making rational points in response to the things she said, she decided to put the focus entirely on the small number of people saying bad things to her, over and over again, this was also shutting down any rational discussion.

          • jonahcutter says:

            @PancakeWizard

            “” “It’s a video series not an academic journal”

            That she wants taught in schools… “”

            Indeed. Or the Fem Freq defenders that proclaim it should be required viewing for all game developers.

          • EhexT says:

            “It’s a video series not an academic journal, you do not start “peer reviewing” it because what the fuck even is that?”
            That particular “fuck” is also sometimes called “facts” or “truth”. You don’t have to create an academic journal to be confronted with it, and should not be exempt from being confronted with it. If more public content was confronted with reality the world would be better off, not worse. “I wasn’t being academic” isn’t a license to be wrong or immune to being called out on that.

          • EhexT says:

            Note that doesn’t mean the people doing the criticizing are exempt from the burden of proof either. But the door swings both ways – it includes the people doing the critiquing and the critiqued.

          • RobF says:

            Why is it so fucking hard to grasp “you don’t peer review a YouTube video”?

            Fucking hell.

          • Mint says:

            You must be realy vested into the femal frequency crowd to say this. Does it matter where her “theories” and ideas are presented?

            Does posting tripe like that on youtube exempt her from any critical analysis? She presented theories, not hard facts and not very solid theories at that. Anything can be peer reviewed and theory given opens itself up for this sort of evaluation whether it is presented on youtube or not.

            It starts to show just how fragile and incorrect these theories are when their supporters like you start showing signs anger in response to that.

            If you or any other supporter was so confident about them you would embrace them for it should show just how right and correct sarkeesians ideas would have been. Truth of the matter is that a lot of analytical responses have shown a lot of genuine problems with her ideas, which is why we see such agressive responses to them like you just expressed.

          • minkiii says:

            @Mint
            Some of us don’t find what she posted “tripe”. We applaud it because it points out the glaring obvious.
            If you want to bicker with the science, than fine – there is obviously more study to do. But you’d have to be stupid or blind to pretend that there is not an overall problem that needs addressing.
            Perhaps things have improved in the last five years, but when I was at uni representation of women in mainstream gaming was horrendous. All my housemates played AAA console games daily and unless I wanted to banish myself from the living room I was subjected to it, and the dire excuses they made for it (“Oh she’s half naked because it’s EMPOWERING”).
            If Sarkeesian wants to just come in and drop the mic, and leave everyone else to figure it out, she is welcome to. She is promoting discussion and raising awareness on a subject long overdue. As was said before- critics are not owed a response, especially when most arguments against her are either irrelevant personal attacks, or irrelevant minor details which, while they may or may not be valid, serve only as a distraction from the wider, inarguable issue of blatant sexism.

        • Asrahn says:

          Mr Fuzzy, I’m actually interested in what this peer reviewed material you speak of is. Not being snide here, I’m genuinely interested what it is, and what they debunk.

          • jonahcutter says:

            Here’s an interesting one that is taking a more academic approach:

            link to medium.com

          • Asrahn says:

            Thank you for the link! Having read it through I can say that, there are indeed, as I also previously thought before reading this, no real reasons to use her particular series or videos in official educational circles as some manner of biblical “this is the absolute truth”. There is still merit to the subject however, and that it should be studied and read about, then by its source material. Let people read the studies avaliable and make up their own mind, although the material avaliable certainly leans more in Sarkeesian’s direction that it does this here gentleman’s. While I’m at it, how about we get into the criticism of the criticism…. of the criticism?

            Academia does naturally, along with this article, utilize studies supporting the hypothesis that is presented in their paper; which as a result means they ignore the studies that have shown the opposite, or at least mention them (with all too obvious purpose) in order to paint them as weak or confounding. The plethora of studies pertaining to detrimental effects of portrayal particular to women is here is first mentioned in a single half-sentence, although not recognised, then utterly disregarded with the simple statement that men and women are equally susceptible to media’s influence (although even this article has the sense to admit women internalise it more readily). Nevermind the Sexual Objectification Spillover Effect, Protheus Effect, research into implicit gender stereotyping and discrimination, effects on tolerance to harassment and so forth. It takes a special mindset to utterly ignore what exists a mere googling away. Most baffingly however, is it attempts to equate research pertaining to media/social influence on (particularly) implicit and explicit thought and opinion with the attempt to prove causal relationship between desensitization to violence and directly violent behavior, which naturally is hokum, as any psych student worth their salt would say.

            The article does a fine job of explaining why Sarkeesian’s work, which naturally comes in video form, would not pass the test of peer-review if submitted, but is that truly something we didn’t already know? And christ, the blatant attempt at discrediting (or at the very least paint negatively) the movement through mentionings of past sins amid tumultuous times under a paper-thin facade of historical summary is simply ugly – and the irrelevant, although admittedly hilarious pulling of the “COMMUNISM” card put the nail in the coffin for me. I read it all, down to its last accusatory, conspiracy-riddled claims of manipulative, malignant, ill intent that they want to pin on her, and it did not impress me.

            If this approach is the most academic her critics have, having at least 2/3’s of the paper be about her personhood, plagiarism and conspiracies regarding intent, then they should definitely leave it to psychologists to debate this phenomena. But again, thank you for supplying the material, it’s good to see the other side of the argument.

          • PancakeWizard says:

            @jonahcutter +1 here, Cain’s mediums on this subject (and others) are top notch. But then, he is a psychologist, not a teleseminar speaker.

      • Urthman says:

        I agree. Anita’s videos are fine, but not saying anything particularly deep or amazing. She’s making some pretty basic, ordinary points about better and worse ways of portraying women in media.

        It’s only the ridiculous, hysterical backlash (which, remember, started when she merely announced she was interested in making videos on this topic) and her courageous perseverance in the face of all the ugly responses that makes her exceptional. She just keeps plugging away, making completely harmless videos while mobs of butt-hurt babies screech in torment for no apparent reason.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          See you have it wrong. She’s suckered you in. Because all you hear from her is “Harassment, harassment, harassment”, you are assuming that the majority of responses to her are from “the mob of butthurt babies”. It’s not the case, she just refuses to engage with anyone in rational discussion (I know she isn’t required to, that doesn’t change the point though). Lots of people disagree with things she says, it doesn’t mean they are butthurt, it doesn’t mean they are misogynists, it doesn’t mean they are harassers. Her narrative has painted it this way because her focus is entirely on the harassment issue and nothing else.

          • Muzman says:

            While there might be salient criticisms in the world it has been pretty clear that most of the response was embittered venomous trash.
            It’s being equally selective to just pick stuff you consider good and tune out the rest. ‘Majority’ is absolutely the right word.

            The fact that she ignites such, let’s call it, critical energy in people to rebut what she says (not all that well in a lot of cases, or on fairly marginal things open to interpretation) is also chin scratchingly intriguing.

          • Mman says:

            “See you have it wrong. She’s suckered you in. Because all you hear from her is “Harassment, harassment, harassment”, you are assuming that the majority of responses to her are from “the mob of butthurt babies”.”

            No, I came to that conclusion because 90% of the “criticism” I’ve seen to her outside of well moderated places is hateful garbage. While the outright hate isn’t here even this comment thread has a bunch of “I’m not saying she’s asking for it, but she’s asking for it”.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Yes a small minority of irrational people will go around comments sections spamming this sort of rubbish. That doesn’t mean that 90% of the people who respond to her think or act this way. You are misguided if you believe she isn’t intentionally focussing on the harassment issue and making it seem like the majority of the responses she’s getting when it isn’t.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            link to metaleater.com

            Also give this a read. A woman and a feminists experiences being bullied and harassed by Sarkeesians followers. Shall we proclaim that they too are all assholes in the same way she tries to portray the entirety of gaming culture as harassing misogynists?

          • Mman says:

            “You are misguided if you believe she isn’t intentionally focussing on the harassment issue”

            Stop trying to project this bullshit that Anita told me to do anything. I can see the harassment is a massive issue because I’ve seen the comment section of literally every unmoderated discussion involving her.

            Outside of the parts about her own harassment (which is awful, just like it is for Anita), that Liana K article is full of bizarre arguments and stuff like almost literally calling anyone who defends Anita a beta white knight, but these posts break down all it’s problems better than I could:
            link to reddit.com
            link to reddit.com

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            You are literally linking that as “full of bizzare arguments” while defending Sarkeesian and her instantly disprovable misrepresentation. Take your blinkers off.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Those posts are nothing more than cherry picking through a much larger document in an attempt to discredit it. But I disagree with pretty much everything that “rebuttal” says.

          • Mman says:

            “defending Sarkeesian and her instantly disprovable misrepresentation”

            Is this yet another vague way of downplaying her harassment? I’ve seen what she gets because I’ve seen it over and over with my own eyes, and in noise it outweighs the potentially legitimate criticism by orders of magnitude.

          • jonahcutter says:

            @MMan

            Kerzner has already started addressing some of these responses to her series:

            link to metaleater.com

            By the way… unlike Kerzner, addressing criticisms is something FemFreq still hasn’t managed to do. Outside of attempts at casting the critics themselves as misogynists that is.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Harassment is not something mutually exclusive to her though. Sadly it happens to everyone on the internet, not just women either. Heck a gay black guy posted a dumb video about not liking cleavage cams on twitch, he got 29 death threats over night.
            It doesn’t change the fact that Sarkeesian places so much focus on the people harassing her and refuses to address any legitimate criticisms of the things she says. Despite the fact that people engaging in rational discussion far outweigh those that are harassing her, as well as the fact that she is blatantly misrepresenting harassment when she does things such as cite rebuttal videos on youtube as “harassment”, which is why I have to question the legitimacy of the amount of actual harassment she gets, because she seems far too eager to cry harassment the second someone disagrees with her. It’s her go to response.

          • Mman says:

            “Kerzner has already started addressing some of these responses to her series:”

            No thanks!

            I admit I’m not just dismissing Liana for this, but also because I’ve things to suggest that she’s an awful person in real life that I’ve seen backed up by multiple other people: link to facebook.com . She also made a grossly ignorant and dehumanising attempt to paint the people sending death and rape threats as Autistic people who had been “triggered”. None of this justifies any of the harassment she got, it does, however, mean I only want to give her the bare minimum of hits or attention.

            “which is why I have to question the legitimacy of the amount of actual harassment she gets”

            So the answer to my question in the previous post is “yes”. Okay. I’m a complete nobody and even I’ve had someone track me between two sites to send me an insulting PM via sockpuppet because I dared to call out some bullshit allegations about Anita. I’ve pissed off countless people on the internet before yet never had anything like that done to me before.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            I’m not downplaying her harassment, you are making it the only issue you care to talk about, exactly the same as she does. Because someone doesn’t want to have the harassment discussion ad nauseum does not mean they are downplaying it.

          • Mman says:

            Yes it turns out that constant death and rape threats are more important than a mostly Milquetoast feminist critique not being perfect.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            There you go then, as far as your concerned rational discussion is not ever needed because of the actions of a few individuals. I’ll say this is a fair enough standpoint I guess.
            However, I cannot abide the fact she is more than happy to portray every single dissenter as part of the harassment. Which is what she did. She made ludicrous claims that people who made youtube videos making counter-arguments to hers were complicit in the harassment of her. She is basically trying to create a situation where it’s impossible to say anything negative about her or question anything she says lest you be labelled a harassing misogynist and set upon by her supporters. This is flat out wrong in my opinion and you won’t change that.

          • Muzman says:

            But you are downplaying it Smokey. Constantly deflecting and minimising language; ‘It’s a minority’, ‘everyone gets harassed’. You go straight for the ad hom and the tu quoque every time, as if from some dirty party political debate.

            I don’t doubt the earnestness of this Quixotic quest to correct the record, but it makes your call for rational discussion ring rather hollow.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            What other option is there? The harassment she’s had, has been terrible. Any sane individual would agree with that. Are we supposed to never discuss what she says in a negative way because of this? Because that’s what this seems like to me.
            My initial point was a reaction to the comment citing her “courageous perseverence in the face of a mob of butt-hurt babies” as factually wrong because it’s not “mobs” of people that are harassing her, it’s a small minority of assholes. Yourself and MMan then turned the argument directly onto the harassment issue, changed the subject and told me to stop deflecting.

          • April March says:

            This thread is amazing. Smoky keeps banging on the drum that harassment of Anita isn’t real, completely blind to the fact that he and Mrman are mostly in agreement about Sarkeesian’s work. But no, the important thing is to make sure that the harassment that Anita claims to suffer is just that, a claim.

            Sorry, Smoky, you’re digging your own hole here. It’s completely irrelevant whether or not Sarkeesian downplays or miscasts her critics or not; what’s relevant is whether or not her videos are good, which I think you and Mrman and even I agree it’s ‘not that much, no’. By focusing the argument on her harassment you are turning the point away from her content, and making your audience think you either agree with her harassment or think death and rape threats aren’t that big of a deal. Which in turn makes your audience think that you are one of those people who would fling around death and rape threats at the drop of a hat. I’ll give you enough credit to assume you’re not the raging asshole you’re painting yourself as here – which is a benevolent move, given that you seemed to make the execrable suggestion that Sarkeesian’s harassment is warranted because people that agree with her have made similar things, as if one horrible act could cancel act another – and suggest that you do not assume that anyone who is aghast at harassment targeted at Sarkeesian has been “suckered in” by her, as well as looking at your action and ponder whether you are using Sarkeesian’s harassment to draw attention away from her work as you claim she is.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Tell me where I said it wasn’t real. I said she overplayed it, and she does. Citing rational disagreement of things she says as harassment is exactly that. I also said she seems unwilling to conduct any kind of rational discussion on the subjects she talks about, also true.

            We know the harassment happens, we know it’s bad, it doesn’t mean that a) every discussion has to come down to harassment, there is lots of discussion about internet harassment all over the place, b) everybody that disagrees with her is in some way complicit in the harassment, which is how it is regularly portrayed to be.

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            I in no way made out that it was warranted. If you actually read the conversation, the above were trying to portray that 90% of the responses made to her or about her work were in some way constituting harassment or at least blind raging. This simply isn’t true.
            I posted that link citing the harassment of another woman by her supporters then sarcastically added “Does this mean that 90% of the people that agree with Sarkeesian are also assholes?” because of the way that anybody disagreeing with her AT ALL is portrayed by her and her followers.
            I would never condone harassment on anybody. I would just like to see her address valid criticism more than she does rather than trying to wave it all away as harassment because that to me is dishonest.

          • Mman says:

            It’s not a “few individuals”, it’s thousands. They’re still a tiny minority in terms of gaming as a whole (adn some of them aren’t gaming related and are just jumping on her as part of general anti-feminism), but they’re also large and noisy enough that trying to write them off just marginalises the harm they commit.

            “Which is what she did. She made ludicrous claims that people who made youtube videos making counter-arguments to hers were complicit in the harassment of her.”

            If you’re talking about that twitter post she showed a specific set of people who ARE complicit in her harassment; they have willingly (whether ignorantly or not) spread lies and rumours about her and one or two have openly egged on her harassers and been a vanguard for it (Thunderfoot in particular).

          • Smoky_the_Bear says:

            Ok I just typed out a long reply and it got put into moderator status. Not sure why. Maybe because I mentioned a certain hashtag that apparenly must remain nameless. Either way, not typing it out again.

          • April March says:

            “it doesn’t mean that a) every discussion has to come down to harassment,”

            Exactly! So why are you so pent up on insisting that her harassment is either unreal or overplayed? That’s a moot point – her harassment exists, and that’s all I need to know to inform my opinion. I can then move on to decide that she’s actually pretty good without that decision coming from some subconscious pity for her struggle or whatever.

          • minkiii says:

            Anyone who wants to argue or respond to Sarkeesian personally is completely missing the point. Why the hell are you so obsessed with her? It’s not about her, it is about the ideas.
            The dev of The Vanishing of Ethan Carter wrote a post which I found insightful and thought-provoking: link to tiny.cc
            This similarly got a response from the original tweeter: link to tiny.cc
            Who won, who lost? Who cares! This is not a war, we are just figuring stuff out here.
            *This* is the way to respond and involve yourself in the discussion. Not by arguing whether a media critic “tells lies” or not – because frankly, it’s irrelevant.

  3. Wowbagger says:

    I thought “wow that game looks cool” so went to buy it on steam… and I already own it. I obviously have a game buying on steam amnesiac problem. Is there an AA for uncontrollable digital game buying?

    • GenBanks says:

      I have the same problem, I decide to expand my gaming horizons by buying some critically acclaimed game but end up just playing Hearthstone or Total War and forget about it.

    • Xocrates says:

      It has been on a Humble Bundle before. So maybe you got it there and overlooked it?

      God knows every time I look at my steam games I go “Wait, wtf is this and why do I even own it o_O” on account of bundles.

      • Gap Gen says:

        Yeah, if you buy a bunch of bundles you can easily let certain games slip in under your radar compared to if you bought them one by one.

    • Geebs says:

      That’d be AA as in Amnesiacs Anony…. Wait, sorry, what were we talking about again?

    • Premium User Badge

      Sinomatic says:

      I’ve genuinely had to train myself to go and check my steam game list now before buying anything new, as I genuinely don’t have a clue what I own anymore.

    • Ex Lion Tamer says:

      I can relate – my backlog is deeply, deeply out of control. For what it’s worth, I made time for this one a while back and didn’t regret it for a moment. It’s a pretty special game.

      • welverin says:

        It’s the only game I finished playing on my iPad (I don’t think I finished every mission of Ace Patrol).

  4. FreeTom says:

    Oh right. I, um… I actually assumed my character was a dude.

    Ah well.

    • GenBanks says:

      She mentions that in the video… But apparently you see the thoughts of other characters though, and “they refer to the Scythian using female pronouns.”

      • FreeTom says:

        Ah, okay. I’m at work (on my lunch break, I’ll have you know) and can’t really get away with playing audio in the office. I’m at least relieved to learn it wasn’t totally obvious.

    • Gap Gen says:

      This is nice, on a similar topic: link to boringoldraphael.tumblr.com

    • Monggerel says:

      I’ve noticed time and again female characters whose gender is impossible to discern at a glance tend to get praised.
      Apparently the absolute best thing a female character can hope for is being a man.

      Then again, I might be completely wrong about that and where I see pattern there’s nothing at all. Who knows!
      You do. Probably.

      • Premium User Badge

        Matchstick says:

        The other way of looking at this is that these are characters who are so undefined by their gender that it literally doesn’t matter.

        In an ideal world it probably shouldn’t be the case that this is a good thing, but the typically representation of women in gaming is so poor that the neutral depiction of female characters can be viewed as a positive step forward.

        • Gap Gen says:

          I mean, in an ideal world self-actualisation should be entirely up to the individual and people wouldn’t be put in boxes based on sex, race, or whatever. However, modern society *does* judge people, and so sometimes in order to move in the right direction you need to actively create a space where people in less empowered groups have the ability to express themselves without the influence of bigotry (in the literal sense) from others.

          But granted, it’s true that games are often not great at subtext, so it’s often best to keep it simple if you don’t understand the implications of what your game says.

          • Esteline says:

            What is a ‘strong female character’ anyway, though? In the modern environment in which there are so many games centred around violence and combat, isn’t there the implication that a non-combatant woman is inherently weaker? What about sexuality? Much is made of female characters being portrayed in a sexual way being innately a negative thing because of how genuinely unpleasant games like GTA and Watch_Dogs have become, but I recall Sarkeesian being rather scathing over Bayonetta, for example. What I worry about is that the level of vitriol that’s come to surround the issue makes it hard for the actual impact of things to be rationally discussed…

          • Gap Gen says:

            I didn’t see anyone in this comment chain bring up ‘strong female character’ per se, which, yeah, is a bit of a red herring in terms of character writing (even if it’s a step up from damsel in distress).

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          In Sword and Sorcery it is more abstract and it works just fine.
          However in something more fleshed out and realistic, men and women are different, have different motivations, different problems etc etc, writing a gender neutral character probably doesn’t work as much. I’d say this is more of an issue of improving the writing in games in general than a gender issue though. Good writers, regardless of gender, know how to effectively portray this sort of nuance to characters that makes someone into a believable female or minority character rather than just a male archetype character with a female body or some over the top stereotype minority person.

      • Xocrates says:

        This is less a case of she looking like a man, and more a case of assuming the “default” is male. With the exception of being a warrior in full armour, the scythian does have quite a few traditionally female traits (Thin frame, long hair).

        At worst, the actions of the character are so gender neutral that who she is irrelevant.

      • Philomelle says:

        The Scythian isn’t a man though. She is a classic sword & sorcery archetype in the same vein as Dark Agnes and Conan the Cimmerian, which is in turn drawn from characters like Brynhildr and Siegfried, Atalanta and Odysseus, Queen Gwendolen, Joanna of Flanders, Boudica, Lancelot, Beowulf and more.

        Robert E. Howard, who is considered the father of the sword & sorcery genre, had very strong feminist views and he never perceived the genre as a male-dominated space, even if he did write largely Conan books (mostly because they were his best-selling works and he desperately needed money for his mother’s treatment). The thing about the warrior poet archetype so often used in this genre is that it’s not really a gender-specific one and never has been. You can make a character like Conan male or female with equal narrative efficiency.

        Sword & Sworcery actually highlights that last part because a lot of the Scythian’s descriptions match how Howard describes Conan. She is largely identified by her birthplace (Conan is often referred to as simply the Cimmerian in original stories), is tall, dark-haired and sullen, skilled with a sword and ready to continue despite hardships and moments of weakness. I don’t know the developers, so I don’t know whether it was intentional. It’s still worth noticing that Scythian’s existence highlights how gender-neutral Conan’s character archetype is.

        That’s what makes the entire video awkward, because Sarkeesian keeps comparing it with Zelda (and misfires upon claiming that Link never made any ultimate sacrifices despite him being cursed is what sets the scene for the entire series) just because it has that one shout out (the Trigon), even though the vast majority of the game’s inspirations are right there in the title. Sword & Sworcery is very classic fantasy pulp told by using modern narrative techniques.

        • Premium User Badge

          gritz says:

          This is an excellent post.

          • Asrahn says:

            Excellent indeed. Hence why it, sadly, will stay ignored.

          • Philomelle says:

            If it’s ignored, it’s my fault entirely. There absolutely is such a thing as analysis too heavy-handed to easily respond to.

        • SuicideKing says:

          Excellent indeed, thanks.

        • Damn Rookie says:

          One more for the “excellent” train here. I’ve been meaning to say this for a while now, Philomelle, but thank you for the posts; they’re almost always fascinating, and demonstrate a real depth and breadth of knowledge.

          • Philomelle says:

            Thank you for the compliment. I’m glad you enjoyed the read.

            This particular bit of knowledge admittedly comes from wanting to write a sword & sorcery game and studying up on the genre’s history for the purpose. It was a much more exciting study than I expected it to be, mostly because Robert E Howard turned out to be one of the best pulp writers I’ve ever read.

      • Kala says:

        “I’ve noticed time and again female characters whose gender is impossible to discern at a glance tend to get praised.
        Apparently the absolute best thing a female character can hope for is being a man.”

        …Why would ‘gender impossible to discern’ automatically equal ‘being a man’…?
        Do you not think that assumption is precisely what’s being challenged?

  5. Wulfram says:

    It’s a rather boring first choice. An indie game – thus not really the target of her critique – that achieves progressiveness through blandness.

  6. povu says:

    I saw she’s a steam curator and recommended Aquaria. Now that’s a game I hope she covers, not that many people know it.

    An underwater metroidvania game by the guy who made Spelunky. RPS’s coverage of it was surprisingly scarce.

    • Niko says:

      Aquaria is such a beautiful game. And Alec Holowka is now making Night in the Woods with Scott Benson!

    • lokimotive says:

      Aquaria’s one of those great games that I really enjoyed playing but never finished. It’s pretty epic stuff, but when I got to the last area I just couldn’t hack it: there’s a section where just a whole bunch of enemies fly at you and I believe you’re supposed to use some sort of special power that shoots everyone on the screen, but I died even before I could deploy it. Then my computer died and I lost all my progress.

      • Philomelle says:

        The Body is, indeed, one of the worst final dungeons I ever experienced in a video game. It’s frustratingly massive, completely lacking in personality and often obnoxiously difficult, something the developers no doubt realized because they made everything in that area explode into showers of Arcane Poultice, which is the strongest healing item in the game. It also doesn’t help that the game doesn’t properly explain how to properly use your “ultimate form” (hint: there is a button that makes you spin in one place that is completely useless up until that point).

        If it helps, the final boss and the ending more than make up for the infinite frustration that is the dungeon preceding them.

    • April March says:

      I got Aquaria on one of the very first humble bundles and played it on a computer that could barely play it. Excellent game.

      I too would like Sarkeesian to cover it, especially because its ending makes some interesting points about masculinity and feminility.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Grizzly says:

    My first thought was “Isn’t that alms/weirdfish’s avatar”?

    Hi alms!

  8. wraithgr says:

    Thanks so much for providing a transcript. On top of the fact that I mostly read/comment here while code is running (so in short bursts), I hate this trend of everyone needing to put their face on video so much that they take 10 minutes to give me 2 minutes’ worth of info…

    • GameCat says:

      Everyone should make the transcriptions of their videos.

    • Moth Bones says:

      Absolutely. Speeches are an awful way to deliver information compared to text, especially in a medium where people are likely to be looking at/listening to multiple things simultaneously. With text, if something is unclear you just read it again, scroll up or go back to the last page. With a video you’d have to rewind it, you might not be sure where to rewind to, you can’t instantly cross reference, you have to go at the speaker’s pace rather than your own. I actually can’t watch them.

      Anyway, I have this game from a bundle but I’ve never installed it, so I might give it a shot. Cheers.

      • Moth Bones says:

        Should have made clear that I meant speeches where you can’t question the speaker, such as videos. Lectures/seminars are OK.

    • Urthman says:

      Yeah, I don’t like talking-head videos and would much rather read an article. But apparently there’s a lot of people who would rather watch a talking head than read.

      But when someone reacts to your talking-head video by literally making a video game about beating a picture of your face until it becomes a bloody mess, continuing to put your face front and center on your videos becomes kind of badass.

      There’s nothing remarkable about calmly walking down the street, but it’s kind of impressive if you can do keep doing it with a mob of screeching monkeys throwing feces at you.

  9. xcession says:

    I loved Sword & Sworcery, but now I realise I only played the first episode :P I thought the spoilers won’t going to spoil, but it seems I’ve somehow deleted the game without completing it, grr.

    This TvW vid seems a bit confused in it’s message imo. A game where even Anika repeatedly points out how genderless the protagonist is, and how unimportant their gender is to the user’s appreciation of the game, is surely not the most suited for highlighting in a video about female role models. If anything it slightly emphasises how protagonist gender shouldn’t be dwelt on by critics.

    • montorsi says:

      So in which games featuring a male hero do devs make a big fuss about it being a dude?

      • wraithgr says:

        Warning:non-serious answer below

        Broforce comes immediately to mind…

        • Xocrates says:

          Which is a game that also includes female characters (but calls them bro anyway)

  10. Asrahn says:

    Great to see some positive examples, something her critics have been clamoring for. The message is rather clear; to allow women to be characters, to be heroes, and have that as the primary identifying trait as opposed to “woman”. That’s how we get great characterization and personality across.

    • AbsoluteShower says:

      But in this case you can’t even tell if it’s a woman for a while.

      That’s not making the female characteristics less important, it’s almost burying them. Doesn’t this game fill the ‘Man With Boobs’ trope she claims is bad?

      • Philomelle says:

        Maybe someone finally informed her that “Ms Male Character” is an inherently sexist concept that is harmful to both genders because it implies that certain traits are inherently masculine and others are inherently feminine. In a world where people are equal, men and women should be free from being judged for adopting certain personality traits.

        The big problems behind that trope aren’t that it’s a woman whose strength is signified by masculine traits, but because far too many traits have come to be perceived as both symbolic of power and stereotypically masculine. That is harmful to men as well, because they are effectively told they need to behave in that one specific way if they want to be perceived as competent. For example, men are often taught that they aren’t allowed to cry because it makes them look weak, which is hilarious because Conan the Barbarian in the original Howard stories was a gigantic crybaby.

      • Asrahn says:

        Not necessarily. From my understanding, the Man with Boobs or “Ms Male Character” trope particularly pertains to the notion of taking already existing male characters and essentially warping them into female counterparts that are, unlike their male version, defined by being a woman. “I’m not Pacman, I’m FEMALE Pacman!”.

        In Sarkeesian’s own words: “I describe the Ms. Male Character trope as: A female version of an already established or default male character. Ms. Male Characters are defined primarily by their relationship to their male counterparts via their visual properties, their narrative connection or occasionally through promotional materials.”

        Again, the Scythian is a positive example because there is no need for female characteristics as that’s not what makes a female character strong, but rather the strength of the character itself. It’s this mindset that you express that is the pitfall, that just because one burries stereotypically female traits, the character ceases to be a strong female, and everyone assumes it’s a man; when in fact it’s just a “hero” archetype that through struggle and sacrifice saves the day, and the hero just happens to be female.

    • Distec says:

      Yeah, I don’t know why some people regularly handwave the shortcomings of her experience and knowledge. It’s usually followed up by some variation of “Her work is super important”, but I tend to find her analysis to be very shallow and so often ignorant of the rest of a game in question, which makes me question that statement.

      As others have pointed out, she’s known more for being a victim of a backlash. I’m not sure how important the work itself really is or who it holds sway over outside of some game news sites.

      • Distec says:

        le sigh

        This was meant as a reply to Michael Fogg below….

      • PancakeWizard says:

        Remember the village council in Hot Fuzz? Should explain everything you’re wondering about.

        THE GREATER GOOD.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      If that was the message, it was adhered to long before Anita put face-to-screen. I hope she’s not going to claim credit for it. Who am I kidding? Her fans will give her credit for it regardless.

      • Asrahn says:

        A bold claim. Honestly though, someone is clearly going to have to spell it out to the public before it’s actually adhered to. The simple fact that so many simply assumed the Scythian to be male should speak volumes of what state the world really is in.

        • PancakeWizard says:

          ” The simple fact that so many simply assumed the Scythian to be male…”

          Because there are no obvious female characteristics and it’s a bunch of crude blocks. Having a ‘gotcha!’ female character doesn’t prove a damn thing. At least with Metroid it felt groundbreaking. There was then, ground to be broken.

          • Asrahn says:

            “Because there are no obvious female characteristics and it’s a bunch of crude blocks. ”

            Why do people assume that anything that lacks obvious female characteristics is male?

    • Kala says:

      Her critics should probably have been aware, then, that this was always on the cards as part of her kickstarter. Granted, not necessarily in the stated order, but it was there:

      link to kickstarter.com

      Positive Female Characters! – Video #11

  11. Geebs says:

    I dunno whether “having no perceivable character or motivation” really counts as a positive role model. Still, at least it’s better than Strong Female Character == (snarky && dual wields)

    • Distec says:

      We’ll see what the rest of the this series highlights, but I agree that this is pretty underwhelming for a first pick. A mass of non-speaking pixels with no discernible traits of any gender (or anything else) doesn’t hit me as a positive representation of women so much as a safe, low hurdle that sidesteps having to actually make a female character.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        I agree, the character could just as easily be a male and it wouldn’t change the game one bit. So is she really only bothered about the fact a character MUST be female and must not have any negative stereotypes attached. If the main character were male, would it really change anybodies enjoyment of it at all? Yet I can guarantee you she wouldn’t be talking about this game if there weren’t a couple of completely missable references to the character being female.

  12. Melody says:

    Even more so than Tropes vs Women, Sarkeesian’s work continues to be entirely too bland, mild, and ultimately uninteresting. As with Extra Credits, it’s not that anything she says is plain wrong, it’s just that her analysis is entirely too simple and superficial in my opinion.

    It’s a shame that lots of critics write better stuff on a weekly basis and their work goes, by comparison with Anita’s popularity, unrecognized.

    • Big Murray says:

      I agree … very bland video. No real insight into female characters … she spent most of the video talking about the things in the game she loved, not about the character.

      Of course … she’s famous because angry anti-feminists make her famous by attacking her so much. So can’t really blame her for her popularity. She wouldn’t be known otherwise.

    • Philomelle says:

      In her rather awkward defense, it’s not like she can really go in-depth. Most of her analysis in Tropes vs. Women convinced me that she doesn’t actually have a large enough body of knowledge for that, since she very frequently doesn’t seem to actually know or particularly care about the content she discusses. There were multiple times, for example, when she brought up instances where a trope is brought in entirely to be subverted as a straightforward execution of said trope.

      I do think the topics she brings up are very important and need to be discussed, I just wish it would have been someone else discussing them.

      • Michael Fogg says:

        Having poor knowledge on the subject at hand is really a poor excuse. Besides the videos are co-written by people such as Jonathan McIntosh and Carolyn Petit (ex-Gamespot).

        • Philomelle says:

          I’m aware it’s a very poor excuse, it’s just the nicest thing I can say in her defense. Anita’s videos aren’t really for in-depth analysis. My opinion is they’re more like Women in Video Games 101, something watched to become aware that a problem exists. Actual solutions and analysis are best sought everywhere else.

          Basically, the feminist in me appreciates that Anita exists and does what she does, but the literary critic and video game lovers in me pop some veins every time she opens her mouth.

          • James says:

            Her cause does suffer from it being championed by her – I dare to say that she herself lacks the skills to further her ideas effectively (hence other script writers) and I just hope to the gods of logic and common sense that she won’t be the one picking the examples – she is not good at it.

          • Arren says:

            Philomelle, if I may make so bold: if you start a Patreon for your own feminist game-criticism — instead of or in addition to popping veins in response to Sarkeesian’s needful-but-thin gruel — I’ll support it, given your superb commentary on this article.

          • April March says:

            I’ll repeat a point that I made earlier, that Sarkeesian is a lot like Extra Credits; a great introduction to a subject that is harmed by the perception that it is in depth and comprehensive.

            Extra Credits is worse because they believe themselves to be in depth and are not aware of how simplistic their analysis is (unless they’ve changed since they left The Escapist; I haven’t bothered to follow). While Sarkeesian never challenged the notion that her videos are in-depth, she never put it forth, either, and she seemed to advertise her series primarily to groups that aren’t interested in gaming specifically (but are interested in it as media and culture). The notion that she’s the lynchpin of Videogame Feminism seems to be mostly brought about by literal haters who want to attack feminism analysis of games but can’t be bothered to research it beyond its loudest exponent.

          • Philomelle says:

            @April March:
            I tried Extra Credits and, for better or worse, didn’t like them at all. There were a lot of words that never seemed to amount to much of anything. Much like Anita Sarkeesian, they left me feeling like the person I’m listening to likes the sound of their own voice more than the topic they’re discussing.

            I don’t really care whether Anita wants to be seen as the lynchpin of gaming feminism or not, my problems with her don’t stem from that. She is completely allergic to admitting mistakes in analysis or even basic information, plus her behavior is sometimes grotesquely sexist (her Bayonetta video reeked of unabashed slut-shaming). She also absolutely loves to cultivate an “us vs. them” mindset; even in this video, she speaks less about Scythian’s unique values as a character and more about how Scythian compares to Link, a game from a completely different genre that Anita seems to personally dislike.

            My problem with her is that she provides good basic content in terms of Video Game Feminism 101, but then her analysis of specific examples often turns just as problematic as the things she campaigns against.

            @Arren:
            That is a very large vote of confidence! Thank you very much for expressing it. For better or worse, I’m not sure I could actually fulfill your idea. The thing is that I’m less about feminism specifically and more about video game narrative in general, which ends up crossing over because gender representation in video games is the rockiest bottom of the grimiest cesspool. I’m also worse at minute analysis than many other people (I considered writing on Little Inferno yesterday, then realized Melody’s analysis of it leaves anything I might say in the dust).

            So really, if I did a blog, then it would be about game narrative design in general. And while that will certainly include feminist critique, are you sure you want to dig for it between my ramblings about religious themes in Dead Space and analysis of how Alice: Madness Returns is an effective metaphor for clinical depression and PTSD?

          • Arren says:

            Philomelle,

            Thanks for taking my comment in the appreciative way it was intended. I fretted briefly after writing it, thinking it too presumptuous a suggestion.

            Regarding your thoughtful reply: my mention of feminism referred simply to its relevance to the current topic. I certainly didn’t mean to prescribe specifically feminist writing on your part. Your comment on the Scythian’s Howardian qualities prompted my outburst of adulation as much as the one in which you eviscerate “Ms Male Character”.

            So really, if I did a blog, then it would be about game narrative design in general. And while that will certainly include feminist critique, are you sure you want to dig for it between my ramblings […]?

            Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

            I’m amused — and marginally bemused, as well — at the idea that this increasingly hypothetical me is skipping past interesting game writing searching for feminist critique. I do support such critique as valid and necessary, and stand in favor of inclusiveness and against bigotry and harassment — that doesn’t mean it predominates among my interests. (Far from it, truth be told.)

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          I’m pretty sure if someone gave me $150k and 2 years I could become an expert at most things.

    • TheLetterM says:

      Could you perhaps make some recommendations then? I see a lot of accusations that Anita and EC are too elementary, but I would love to be pointed in the direction of anyone equally accessible, but of a higher quality. Not trying to be snarky, I just think that alluding to better content without actually stating where that content actually resides isn’t that helpful.

      • Crafter says:

        hear, hear, give us some names please.

        • Melody says:

          Well, I follow Critical Distance quite closely. The quality is very hit and miss, but still.

          Some critics that I follow religiously though: Brendan Vance, Stephen Beirne, Cameron Kunzelman (although he doesn’t write very often), Liz Ryerson, Lana Polansky, Cara Ellison, Mattie Brice, Todd Harper, Christopher Franklin (Errant Signal) George Weidman (he mostly does reviews, but he sprinkles his reviews with criticism, and he does full-on long criticism as well).
          Others I like quite a lot: Corey Milne, the girl behind GoMakeMeASandwich, Joel Goodwin (Electron Dance), the person behind “howtonotsuckatgamedesign”, Edward Smith, Carolyn Petit.
          I’m sure I’m forgetting people, but this is already a pretty long list.

        • Philomelle says:

          Adding to the list of names above, I recommend clicking on the link on Melody’s name. Her blog is very robust and interesting read.

      • Bernardo says:

        Errant Signal comes to mind.

        • Stellar Duck says:

          Eh, he’s also a bit basic. Besides, he doesn’t cover the same ground.

      • flashlight_eyes says:

        academic articles are what you want.

        • Kala says:

          They said equally accessible, and given that she’s made a deliberate attempt to make academia accessible, an academic paper is probably not going to fulfil that criteria.

      • Muzman says:

        Stuff people mostly aren’t interested in reading/watching generally. It’s always struck me as a strange standard to hold her to.
        I don’t doubt there are some people who like that sort of thing and there are honest critics as well as anti-feminst nit pickers in the world. It’s valuable stuff, high grade criticism of games, and more would be good. But that’s always the tension with any sort of descriptive and critical project; who is the audience? Where should the intellectual level be pitched?

        I wrote a paper on the local quake deathmatch scene for sociology class once. It was supposed to be ten thousand words. The supervisor let it balloon to more than double that when it became obvious that he and the professors would have no idea what I was on about without mountains of description, technical and otherwise, and a comprehensive glossary. They just had no concept at all.
        While that was a while ago that’s still normal people. You break down the interest for more high falutin games criticism and then that which can be gotten across in a reasonably short space of time, you’re talking about a subset of a subset of a subset of a subset.
        Pitching it much simpler makes sense, whether she’s capable of going higher or not.

        Really she must be one of the only reasonably well known purveyors of this kind of criticism. So we’re really talking ground floor here.

    • Baines says:

      Perhaps worse, some better critics get attacked by Anita’s supporters.

    • SuicideKing says:

      I quite like EC, though I like Extra History more.

      • Stellar Duck says:

        Extra History is fucking atrocious and makes my blood boil. While I understand the intent, as a historian, I cannot abide by such shitty representations of history.

        As for their games related stuff, it’s fairly basic stuff if you’ve ever bothered to think and read about games before.

        Again, I appreciate the intent, but I don’t understand why people always bring them up.

  13. montorsi says:

    This is cool. I absolutely do not objective to her other series in any way. Given the reality of gaming, her work is important and needs to be heard by game developers (those willing to listen, at any rate). However, it is nice to see some suggestions for positive gaming experiences, and ones that I might not have stumbled upon otherwise.

  14. FreeTom says:

    It kind of seems like a comment of mine on this post got deleted because I used a word for breasts, beginning with a ‘T’. At least, I can’t think of anything else could have been objectionable about it. I wasn’t being at all rude to anyone, except perhaps those who object to swearing on principle.

    Is that policy now? Can we just not swear? Would be nice to know so I can avoid having my posts deleted in future…

    • Horg says:

      Your comment was deleted because it was a reply to ”Lachlan1”, who is a serial shitposter, and his parent comment was deleted. If you don’t delete the replies to comments deemed worthy of Incineratus then the whole forum gets flooded with scattered replies that don’t belong to a parent comment. RPS etiquette; don’t reply to shitposters, block them and move on.

      • FreeTom says:

        Are you sure? Only it seemed like I successfully replied to Gap Gen’s link to an interesting external piece. After some statements largely agreeing with the thrust of the article I said something like, “Also, now I’ve seen a crocodile with t**s.”

        Meh.

        • Horg says:

          Oh, might be my mistake, I misread things like names fairly frequently. A line of comments was deleted and I thought you had a reply in there.

      • Lachlan1 says:

        It was actually representing a valid point of view though… Girls bullied a lot of the gamers of my generation for playing games and then we wonder why a lot of male gamers don’t want to accept them into gaming twenty years on. I wouldn’t call myself a serial shitposter, I really don’t like bullying and I made a fuss about the pathological liar interview, including reenabling as block on rps and no longer subscribing

        • airmikee says:

          You really think that refusing to sleep with you is bullying you?

        • Unknown says:

          “Girls” didn’t bully you, specific human beings did. Their actions are not representative of a gender.

        • Kala says:

          “Girls bullied a lot of the gamers of my generation for playing games and then we wonder why a lot of male gamers don’t want to accept them into gaming twenty years on.”

          Jesus wept.
          Twenty years on, you should have grown up.

    • Alec Meer says:

      I think we just got rid a whole sub-thread which arose in response to an unwelcome axe-grinder; sorry for collateral damage.

      • FreeTom says:

        Ah, perhaps in the haste of firefighting it got cut off one level below the point that was strictly necessary.

        Still, honest mistake. I’m just glad I can still engage in childish cursing.

        “‘Brevity is the soul of wit’, said Shakespeare. I say ‘Wank!’ Thus I win.”
        – Simon Munnery.

      • Lachlan1 says:

        It’s a pity I didn’t get to read the responses, it’s not a PC point of view, I understand that, and it’s not one I’m particularly proud of. But I think it’s one that represents the experience of many male gamers of my age. I was looking forward to reading some responses that would help me understand a better way to engage with that experience.

        • airmikee says:

          Yeah, us poor picked on male gamers, having to deal with discrimination and intolerance being directed towards us simply because we’re male. The way that society views us as nothing more than sexual objects to be won in a game of conquest with the opposite sex.

          Wait, that’s not right.

  15. RuySan says:

    While i admire her for her drive and conviction, most of her videos are very boring. And does he always wear giant earrings? (sorry, to many hours spent finding the perfect earrings for gifts).

    • RuySan says:

      “she” i meant, obviously. Where has the edit button gone?

  16. Wulfram says:

    Would the Scythian be a worse character if her gender was instead chosen by the player?

    • Xocrates says:

      I would argue that it would, because it would turn the character more directly into a player avatar, and thus turn it to be a story about the player, not the Scythian.

      That said, would it narratively change the story? No.

      The same could be said for some 90% of game characters though.

      • Premium User Badge

        gritz says:

        It somewhat does that already though, with its social features posting tweets from the scythian’s point of view in the first person with the player’s account.

    • JeepBarnett says:

      In terms of the story, it would prevent the creators from intentionally subverting expectations (if that was their goal). It would also increase the workload of art, animation, audio, footprint, localization, etc. You either take that toll on the quality of something else in the game or project time/expense. So you could think that single gender was a savings, but choosing female leads me to believe that’s the story they wanted to tell in the context of the stories that inspired it.

  17. James says:

    It is welcoming to see Sarkeesian look at the other side of the argument for a change. I just hope she does a better job of it than the last time (not in terms of style, mostly in terms of selected examples that had a habit of going against her argument when analysed in full) as her goals suffered a great deal for a lack of proper research.

    I am curious to see what qualifies as ‘strong’ though, if KoToR 2’s Kreia doesn’t pop up I’ll be surprised because she was showered in praise for character – she even makes the saviour of the galaxy feel inexperienced. I only hope that Sarkeesian looks at definition of strong beyond her own or it will harm her goals and her argument – language is finicky like that.

  18. Premium User Badge

    heretic says:

    Chell and Amanda Ripley please! Just finished Alien Isolation, Amanda is such a badass <3

    • Smoky_the_Bear says:

      I’d put The Longest Journey series in there for sure too.

  19. flashlight_eyes says:

    I think the reason Anita bothers people the way she does (besides the fact that shes a woman talking about female oppression, which sadly gets people up in arms), is her general lack of praise for anything within the industry. She often appears as an outside insulting a culture without ever talking about it’s merits, or when she does she seems to only pick very obscure games. It’s obvious games have problems with misogyny, but lets have an interesting discussion about the things some games have done right, or could have done better. Her videos are the equivalent of someone who knows very little about hip-hop sifting through the mainstream potrayals of it and pointing out how sexist it is, without ever addressing the fact that hip-hop has always had people fighting desperately against the mainstream obsession with violence/sexism/money. The creators know, the consumers know, and plenty of people don’t enjoy the fact it exists. There exists a long history of RPG’s and older games with positive female character’s before mainstreaming gaming became a hollywood copy.
    There DO and HAVE existed plenty of positive female characters in games that the average player likes as well, and it can be a bit jarring sometimes to have those things glossed over. Many of which were not perfect, but characters like Sheik/Metroid/ the 100’s of female characters in classic RPG’s like baldurs gate/fallout all have accurate representations. It sometimes feels like she is selling gaming short, or just hasn’t done enough research.

    • Kala says:

      “She often appears as an outside insulting a culture without ever talking about it’s merits, or when she does she seems to only pick very obscure games.”

      Just curious but…
      How would an outsider know very obscure games?

      • flashlight_eyes says:

        perhaps not obscure games, but examples that are not often played, or beloved by gamers. Games that slipped between the cracks because they didnt do anything especially well to merit attention. It seems like shes saying games that DO have positive female roles are never given any attention, which is untrue. Not to say there is not a horrible lack of positive female characters thus far, but when you can only point out games that don’t feel apart of game culture it seems rather pessimistic and I think people take it personally.

      • Sweetz says:

        >”How would an outsider know very obscure games?”

        Umm, Google something like “sexy game” or make an appropriately baited post on Neogaf if you want to get others to do your work for you.

    • Monkeyshines says:

      Perhaps, but it seems an awful lot like the message alone tends to get some lunatic fringe frothing. I came to this article immediately after reading Alec’s article on Freshman Year where the first post contains a bizarre twist of logic and an accusation of white knighting. I doubt that came from a place of thinking him an outsider to video games.

      • flashlight_eyes says:

        Without a doubt there are just people who can’t stand to have anyone talk about social justice issues, and these people are obviously to be ignored. I just know plenty of reasonable people who are not thrilled by Anita, yet don’t want to be grouped with the crowd of wankers.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          I agree, too much supposition created that paints everyone who disagrees with her as some kind of vile misogynist. This is the problem and that standpoint just creates a very combative “us and them” mentality. Claiming to stand up against stereotypes and mistreatment of people one second then being more than happy to turn around and brand all gamers who don’t 100% agree with them as “vile misogynerds, neckbeards” and other nonsense is extremely hypocritical and one of the reasons why lots of level headed, reasonable people are completely pissed at the social justice brigade and the written media that is constantly championing their cause.

  20. ephesus64 says:

    I wonder if HL2’s Alyx will make the cut. The HL2 plot makes a couple references to her character getting googly eyes for the silent male protagonist, and the animation also makes a show of Alyx climbing in and out of the impractical side of the car in Episode 2 with her pert bum directly in front of the camera, so there’s that. I’m not sure from my memory whether the flirting was more an honest part of the character or fan service. Maybe I should play through again with the better graphics mod mentioned in another article and do my own research. About the character, not the bum, although I’m sure it’s lovely.

    It’d be too bad if a fairly nuanced (for a video game) character who was an excellent example of showing instead of telling the viewer about the emotions in a scene was overlooked, IMO. Her reaction to the stalkers in the train scene and deft use of bad puns puts her on my top ten list of video game characters in general, not just the special list of female ones.

  21. Bahoxu says:

    Happy to see that Anita actually likes something. Her other videos are always so angry, searching for faults and never satisfied.

    Gender issues have never been a big thing in my life. I dont mind the sex of the protagonist in any game i play. Male, female, other – all fine. Bring on the gameplay and stories. Bring on the the damsels in distress and the stereotypical villains. Its all good. Im secure with who i am and i dont need reinforcement from the media.

    But… i read a small disney cinderella-book for my 3-year old niece and i felt sick. Cinderella is a passive object for others to act on. Her job in the entire book is to be pretty and wait for her prince. The prince, meanwhile, is dynamic and strong. He rides his mighty steed and wields his magical sword, slaying the witch transformed into a dragon. Then he takes possession of the princess, as his reward. Horrible. And then she tells me she wants to be a princess when she grows up…

    I dont want her to think about her role as a female like that. She’s strong too and if there is a dragon-butt that needs kicking she is perfectly able to deliver said kicking. I want more books and games about strong women, not for me but for her.

    • Stellar Duck says:

      Angry? Really? You think her videos are angry?

      Shit, if anything I think they’re way too bland and not engaging with all the bullshit properly in an attempt to be polite.

      As for searching for faults, well, the point of the series was to examine tropes and women in games. By the nature of things that’s going to end up highlighting some faults.

      I don’t know her, obviously, but she’s been on a podcast I listen to and frankly, she seems like a really fun person to be around. Don’t mistake her rather droning presentation of these videos with her as a person.

      • pepperfez says:

        Oh, didn’t you know? We’re talking about a woman who’s criticizing things. Of course she’s angry, what else could she be?

        (I jest, of course; she could also be hysterical.)

        • Kala says:

          I liked your post. Here, have an internet flower.

          ——{–(@)

    • airmikee says:

      So you don’t like Anita because she isn’t happy with the way females are portrayed in most media and she’s trying to change that, and then you go on to detail how you don’t want your daughter to grow up thinking she should live a life like most entertainment media portrays women as being?

      Do you understand that Anita and other aren’t trying to change the world for us males that already dominate almost everything? Do you understand that girls, like your daughter, are the intended recipients of the change that some are trying to bring about in the world?

      Can you see your self defeating hypocrisy yet?

      • Bahoxu says:

        Nice strawman argument there. You sure put a lot of words into my mouth without any reason at all to do so.

        Please consider the difference between agreeing with everything Anita Sarkeesian says and does or hating all women everywhere before you post again.

        Thank you for playing, now go away.

        • airmikee says:

          I put so many words into your mouth that you can’t actually identify anything I claimed you said that was inaccurate and instead turned your argument against me personally? LOL Good one, kid.

  22. Stellar Duck says:

    This is a great parody of the noxious people who show up in Sarkeesian threads!

  23. P-Dizzle says:

    I have a feeling Anita only does things for the money. After all, she was into that internet marketing aka pyramid scheme stuff.

  24. Mman says:

    It’s not a “few individuals”, it’s thousands. They’re still a tiny minority in terms of gaming as a whole (adn some of them aren’t gaming related and are just jumping on her as part of general anti-feminism), but they’re also large and noisy enough that trying to write them off just marginalises the harm they commit.

    “Which is what she did. She made ludicrous claims that people who made youtube videos making counter-arguments to hers were complicit in the harassment of her.”

    If you’re talking about that twitter post she showed a specific set of people who ARE complicit in her harassment; they have willingly (whether ignorantly or not) spread lies and rumours about her and one or two have openly egged on her harassers and been a vanguard for it (Thunderfoot in particular).

  25. ansionnach says:

    Not really focused on sexism and purely console-centric , there’s this:
    link to youtube.com

    It’s more about the games and doesn’t rule out a character merely for wearing a bow. Alis from Phantasy Star, for example, may be dressed in a way that would be considered classically “effeminate” but she is a genuine effort to create a strong female character, which is what counts in my view (and was designed by a woman, too). Have played quite a few of these games and even though the intention of the video is more to talk about good games with female leads rather than ones that aren’t in any way sexualised, it isn’t that bad a list for that either… with exceptions.

    They do discuss Tomb Raider which is a game I’d heard was great when it was released. Took one look at the box and got Civ2 and Syndicate Wars instead. I was sixteen but felt that the obvious pandering was an insult to my intelligence. I did play the first two later on after getting a lend of them from a friend and had to admit that in spite of the problematic stuff they were great games, albeit in need of more fresh ideas to stave off monotony towards the end.

    Don’t know much about Heavenly Sword so can’t really comment whether there’s anything in the characterisation of the lead to mitigate appearance.

    As for Space Channel 5, I’ve completed both of those games on the Dreamcast and I wouldn’t call Ulala stupid. They’re fun rhythm games set in some sort of future space-faring sixties future and everything is completely ridiculous (one character’s favourite food is “space ice-cream”, I think).

    My feeling on the whole discussion is that I’ve no problem with characters who are, on balance, positive ones. Lara Croft, for example, wouldn’t count, as no amount of “intelligence” could mitigate the degree of pandering. Perhaps the Legend version, with toned-down appearance wasn’t as bad, though. From memory (and I think I’ve seen all of Sarkeesian’s videos), they are quite effective at raising awareness of the tiredness of common representations, even where a good chunk of the list is obscure. I doubt it had escaped many people’s notice but perhaps it has shamed designers into thinking twice. Her videos are quite focused on consoles and I think that female characters have had a much better time of it on computers.