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Video: Where video games' 'damsel in distress' trope came from
March 7, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi

March 7, 2013 | By Frank Cifaldi
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The first entry in Anita Sarkessian's Kickstarter-funded Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series explores how "damsels in distress" became one of the most highly-used cliches in games.

"As a trope the Damsel in Distress is a plot device in which a female character is placed in a perilous situation from which she cannot escape on her own and must then be rescued by a male character, usually providing a core incentive or motivation for the protagonist's quest," Sarkeesian explains.

The video is embedded above. More about the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games project, which examines the plot devices and patterns often associated with female characters in video games is available at the official Tumblr.


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Comments


Joseph Elliott
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Excellent video. She's going for the throat in this first episode attacking two of the most beloved, but also most deserving targets in gaming. It can be hard to admit how badly some of my favourite games fail in this regard, but it's a problem worth facing.

It's so frustrating how easy it would be to solve this issue in most games. Heck, in Skyward Sword, Zelda is always one step ahead of you, only to be captured in the very end. They were so close. SO CLOSE!

Anyway, I'm preparing myself for a soul crushing period in gaming "press" while these videos are being posted. Just look at Destructoid coverage for the kind of filth I'm referring to.

Paul Marzagalli
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I was intrigued by your use of the word "filth" so I tracked down the article covering the release of the video. What exactly did the columnist write that was so egregious?

Joseph Elliott
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I don't want to give them the repeat traffic, but it's incredibly condescending. Perhaps I'm picking up on a tone that isn't there, but knowing that columnist's past stances on Sarkessian's work (not positive), I'm not willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

It starts off with a patronizing tone, "Hey, this video isn't total garbage!" and ends with an attack on her integrity by disabling youtube comments, suggesting that's an affront to open discourse.

YOUTUBE comments. DISCOURSE. Really?

At best, it's tactless, and at worst, it's indicative of the boy's club attitude of the industry, taking honest criticism as an attack that needs defending or discrediting.

Michael Stevens
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It's overreacting to call the Destructoid post "filth", particularly when the take away is positive. They're willfully obnoxious about a lot of things, but it's totally fair for a writer at a video game news website to express an opinion her previous work discussing video games.
This video is a lot more objective and nuanced than some of Sarkeesian's earlier videos, which didn't really ask questions beyond "does this reflect my worldview? Why not?". I'm glad she's leaning more towards academic than blogger with this, and I'm looking forward to part 2.

Michael Stevens
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100% agree with you about the YouTube comments, though. Leaving them on would do nothing but foster hostility.

Jeferson Soler
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@ Maciej Bacal - Have you seen the type of people that leave comments behind on YouTube videos? Personally, I don't blame Anita for disabling some of the functions from her YouTube video as the haters/cyber-bullies would abuse those functions for their own personal gain. To believe that there won't be such type of people is the same as turning a blind eye on them. Not everyone will give a constructive opinion and a big portion of people will just put non-productive comments on Anita's video section.

Curtis Turner - IceIYIaN
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The second reason I created Elements of War/Monsters of War is the damsel in distress trope(The first being Bunny-Hopping). In my version the hero is the woman and your lover, the male, becomes the villain. Not that I actually have the skill to complete such a mod or game.

Great video, quite in depth.

John Gordon
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I'm not sure how much I agree with the total premise of the video, but I have to say that it really does not make any sense to leave Princess Peach out of being a playable character in the new Mario games. I mean they have 4 possible playable characters just like in Super Mario Bros. 2, the only one of the four that they changed is the female one.

Ron Dippold
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Be careful what you ask for. When Nintendo let you play as Peach, she had emotional jags as a superpower.

Quoting wiki: 'Gloom: Peach will cry, making her run faster, jump farther, and inflict damage to enemies on the ground. The stream of tears that gets scattered while she is crying can also be used to water certain obstacles, such as helping a small sprout grow into a long tall plant which she can use to climb and reach higher places. ' Her other emotions being Joy, Rage, and Calm.

Joseph Elliott
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Ron: On a mechanical level, playing with emotions and having fun with tears is interesting! Just... really tactless.

Lewis Wakeford
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I'm pretty sure she has a frying pan attack in Smash Bros Brawl. At that point I found it hard to believe nintendo where doing this crap accidentally.

Joshua Kahelin
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The goal of a Mario game in the core series is always the same. Rescue the princess. Can't very much rescue her if she was playable. Is anyone actually expecting Nintendo to change that formula with each new iteration?

Frank Cifaldi
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I didn't realize people played Super Mario for the story.

E Zachary Knight
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I don't think that anyone is expecting Nintendo to change it with *every* iteration. Bowser's main motivation doesn't have to always be kidnapping the princess. He could just go for straight up "take over the world" with Mario and Company having to take it back.

Connor Fallon
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Tradition isn't a very good justification for anything, though, and to not highlight the role of Princess Peach in the proliferation of that trope would be a glaring omission. The fact that you could replace Peach with basically anything that Bowser could steal and the game could hold up says something.

So whether or not a change is actually likely it's worth saying "Hey. You know. This is kind of dumb." Because it is.

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Joe Zachery
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The funny thing is how many times have rescuing the Princess has been the only reason for Mario to stop Bowser.

SMB first game in series rescue the Princess.
SMB2 Team Mario rescue people of SubCon
SMB3 Save the Mushroom World. Peach only gets kidnapped when you reach world 8.
SMW Liberate the Yoshis Peach gets kidnapped later in the game.
The Villain only takes a hostage after his initial plan fails. So Mario hasn't only been a game about a Damsel in Distress.

Justin Speer
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Some really cool rare footage in there, I can get behind any video that bothers to include weird stuff like Violence Fight and Phelios in illustrating its point.

Maria Jayne
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Surely the "damsel in distress" trope is older than anybody reading this and simply migrated from other entertainment mediums naturally? Whenever we advance in methods of mass entertainment we invariably look back as to what has worked in the past and how that can be translated into a new medium to repeat it's success.

Guerric Hache
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Starting around four minutes in, the video discusses exactly this.

Toby Grierson
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Whoa, slow down there Hache! Watching the actual video before posting? Looks like we got a badass here!

Sjoerd Bergman
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@Guerric: The video didn't really discuss Maria's issue, it just acknowledged that the trope existed before videogames. She didn't elaborate on why the trope has been used or placed it in it's historical context.

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Eric Pobirs
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It should be mentioned though that this twist was a very tried and true variant on a vast portion of romance fiction. I can recall from the days I spent stocking bookstore shelves that nearly half of the Romance section had some kind of criminal or outlaw as the male lead of the story.

Joe Zachery
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Going to watch this for myself, and then come to my own opinion. Going by the reaction of the web most feel she doesn't know what she is talking about. After her last take on the Bayonetta game some see this as a project done by the wrong person.

Lewis Wakeford
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The Bayonetta video was indeed very bad. Whatever point she was trying to make was discredited by the fact that she obviously hadn't played the game or at least taken the time to research it. This video is pretty good though, hopefully the remainder of the series is more like this.

Luis Guimaraes
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Yes, it's quite good and well researched.

Except for the fact everything in her youtube channel is locked... One can't even check the video statistics after this article for market research purposes.

Greg Findlay
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It's great to see someone look at games analytically like she's doing but she's analyzing the narrative of games that everyone agrees has bad or at least cheesy narrative in a very granular way. It's interesting to see the history but it's disappointing as analysis.

I imagine the damsel in distress had a lot to do with the very obvious, don't need to explain it, goal it provides. It definitely appeals to a male fantasy but it's prevalence (which is the real problem) was more complex then just as a male fantasy. As we get more complex narratives in games we're seeing much less use of the damsel in distress as the main goal.

Eric Pobirs
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The idea that a plot device thousands of years old (look at how often it turns up in various ancient mythologies) needs a lot of examination is kind of silly. It is a throwaway item in games driven entirely by the play rather than the story. Scarcely anyone ever really cared why Mario was trying to get anywhere. They were entirely engaged in trying to beat that tricky spot where you have to get a series of jumps just right with no margin for error.

The some people get worked up about such throwaway elements of a game is perfect example of what has become known as 'first world problems.'

Mikael Saker
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People get worked up because we believe that these "throwaway" elements are actually a reflection of what is going on in the society as a whole, that they tell us something about how women are viewed. It is a reaction to "first world problems" of inequality that is very real and that we wish to get rid of.

One of the things that we have to do to get there is to change the way we portray women.

Unfortunately, this is a hard struggle. In Sweden 1968, women earned 71% of what men earned. That improved to around 83% until the beginning of the 1980s. Pretty much nothing has happened since then.

My daughter will start earning her first salaries in about 15-20 years and the prospect that she will enter the job market on equal terms with her brother and other men around her is not good. That pisses me off on a profound level.

Kyle Redd
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@Mikael

Except this isn't really going on in society as a whole. Sarkessian admits in the video that she grew up playing Mario and Zelda games. Now here she is a full-grown feminist, despite having apparently been indoctrinated by Nintendo to believe that, as a woman, she is weak and is incapable of solving a problem without the help of a man.

In virtually every culture where games are part of the popular conscience, women have made massive, dramatic progress in equality with men, to the point that (in countries like the U.S.) they are now actually *more* accomplished and independent than men both intellectually and financially. Women are inarguably having a far more difficult time in areas of the world where video games have virtually no presence at all. So what is the problem?

Despite the terrible messages these games are supposedly spreading to impressionable young people, it doesn't really seem to be doing any harm, does it? I feel that Sarkessian's aim is less about fighting misogyny and more about enforcing political correctness.

Mikael Saker
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Kyle:

"(in countries like the U.S.) they are now actually *more* accomplished and independent than men both intellectually and financially."

This is news to me. Wonderful if it's true. Can you point me to a source on that?

"Women are inarguably having a far more difficult time in areas of the world where video games have virtually no presence at all. So what is the problem?"

Just because there are people worse off elsewhere doesn't mean there is no problem here.

Kyle Redd
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@Mikael

Women are smarter:
http://tinyurl.com/af2ueam

more educated:
http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-201_162-20057608.html

and more financially successful:
http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2832-women-primary-earners.html

"Just because there are people worse off elsewhere doesn't mean there is no problem here."

Of course, women in the developed world will always be subject to abuse and harassment. But there is *no* evidence at all that video games are a contributing factor, or that they ever have been.

Just as with violent crime rates, as video games have become more popular and more prevalent in our culture, women's autonomy and independence has improved, not degraded. So for Sarkessian to point the finger at games as a source of the problem without any corroborating evidence is extremely short-sighted and self-serving.

Mikael Saker
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"Women are smarter:
more educated:"

I have never doubted that to be true.

"and more financially successful:
http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/2832-women-primary-earners.html"

That is not what that article says. Read it again.

Kyle Redd
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@Mikael

However you want to interpret the data, surely you would at least acknowledge that women's income status has been improving for the last several decades, correct? A majority of women are now the primary financial supporter for their households, and among married couples, women are also projected to start out-earning their husbands sometime in the next couple of decades. Do you not see this as progress?

To get back to the point, considering the progress that has been made (and continues to be made), why should we conclude that video games are somehow making things worse? Can you identify a single country where the rise of video games has coincided with a decline in (or any notable hindrance of) women's rights?

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Mikael Saker
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"However you want to interpret the data, surely you would at least acknowledge that women's income status has been improving for the last several decades, correct?"

No. In my country things got better between 1968 and the beginning of the 1980s. Since then very little has happened when it comes to income.

"and among married couples, women are also projected to start out-earning their husbands sometime in the next couple of decades. Do you not see this as progress?"

According to the article it's 22% now. Let's hope that lands at 50% soon, but within a couple of decades? What makes you think that? The gap has not changed here in 30 years.

"Can you identify a single country where the rise of video games has coincided with a decline in women's rights?"

No, but that's not the point. No one has claimed that videogames make a measurable dent in the woman's rights progress. What is said is that videogames are part of upholding old and derogatory views on women.

Eric Pobirs
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Mikael, the nonsense about women being underpaid has been debunked many times over. If the typical employer could expect to get the same work out of women for a significantly lesser cost than a man, why would they hire men for any roles that can be filled by women. Male unemployment should be through the roof.

In real life, it turns out that people make choices and those choices affect aspects of their lives such as earning potential. A huge factor is children. A couple with children who both have full time jobs will tend to have a higher level of absenteeism from the workplace on the part of the woman. If a child is ill or in trouble the mother is the more likely to leave her workplace to respond. This isn't a cultural defect. It's simply the way we're wired. Trying to deny that just results in wasted time and misery.

If you look at the more recent studies, the disparity in earning disappears as you move up the income scale. High earning women are more likely to have employees of their own to care for their children and reduce the likelihood they'll be summoned away from the workplace.

Contrary to what feminists have preached for decades, men and women and not interchangeable units. They tend to have significant differences with both strengths and weaknesses. The 'damsel in distress' trope works because it has a basis in reality. Cliches don't spring out of thin air. They need a certain amount of recurrence to achieve that status.

Now, if an epic RPG just boiled down to 'bad guy took my girl and I'm going to get her back' it would make for a lousy game where story and character are core elements. But in a platformer or puzzle driven dungeon crawler? Who really cares that isn't actually playing some other personal drama?

Mikael Saker
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Eric:

"the nonsense about women being underpaid has been debunked many times over."

Has it been debunked in the same manner global warming "nonsense" has been "debunked"? Because wherever I look I see pretty consistent figures. In the US, and here in Sweden. The key thing to look for is unexplained differences. Everything you mention are explained differences. Those are a major part of the pay-gap, but doesn't cover it all.

"The 'damsel in distress' trope works because it has a basis in reality."

There is a difference between "this thing exists" and "this thing ought to exist".

Cordero W
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I did not want to comment on this article, but seeing all the comments that agree with her so far, I'll have to be the prosecutor in this one. I unfortunately watched this and the only thing I chuckled at, besides all her mundane complaints about the trope from face value, was when she mentioned when Zelda gets kidnapped in OoT right after changing from Shiek. That was mainly because it reminded me of a past comic of Solid Snake analyzing what gender Sheik was.

The gist of it is, she did not need that much money to make a video version of her saying what a lot of women who rag on this trope already said. She did not even look past the images that she was shown nor did it look like she played most of the games she spoke about. For instance, the Doki Doki game had two women in it before it became Mario 2, and she did not mention it at all, which means she did not do any research at all. In addition, she said in her video, and I quote: "Peach 'accidentally' was playable in that game." As if Miyamoto was sitting there making this game and was trying to deliberately make her useless. That alone was unjustified on her part.

This video upset me to no end and I'm sure I speak for a lot of other people who felt the same way. Psychologically, the "save the woman" trope is not meant to make a woman weak, but to justify the image that men are willing to sacrifice a lot for the opposite sex. This trope dates back all the way to ancient times. Men are naturally stronger, so we let women take the less physical tasks in order to make a working relationship between genders. The women are fine with that because they can focus on more technical/ intellectual tasks while the men can put forth their muscle for more physical orientated tasks. So yes, in a way, women ARE weak, but only physically. They can still get as strong as men, albeit with more work put into their physical workouts than men. This isn't an insult. It's fact. It's just how the two genders are made up.

One last thing is that she's attacking an easy target. She's afraid to go to the movie industry with this same argument cause it has the same flaws as she mentioned here. Because if she made a video toward that medium instead, she will be hounded right away by professionals, mostly of the writing kind, who will throw fact after fact her way and make her baseless claims obsolete. Not to mention, the general public will get behind it. A lot of women like jewelry, shopping, drama, soap operas, debates, and emotional stimulus, so they have no problem with the trope of them being saved. It makes them feel like the treasure that they already climb after, both material and emotional, while at the same time, it lets men put themselves in the role of the breadmaker. There is nothing wrong with this trope. If she wanted to argue something, she should have just argued about why some women in games have big breasts and big hips to show off the perfect female. That's a more doable argument.

I can go on, but I don't need to waste anymore time with this argument since there isn't one.

E Zachary Knight
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I would say that the "Peach was accidentally playable" comment is justified. By turning a game with four playable characters into the sequel for a game with only two playable characters, a choice had to be made on who the two extra playable characters was. Had there been a character from the first Mario game other than Peach, we might have had a very different Mario 2.

She also uses Mario 2 as a springboard for the complaint with New Super Mario in which Nintendo had an opportunity to bring Peach back as a playable character but chose not to in exchange for a second Toad.

As for all the money, remember, she didn't ask for $150,000. The Internet gave her that. I believe her original goal was just $6,000.

Additionally, this is just the first video in the series. Her next video will involve how the Damsel in Distress trope has evolved (or not) in games. She still plans on plenty of more videos as she wants to make sure that people get their $150k worth out of the series. So she will most like touch on the "big breasts and big hips" of female characters.

Mikael Saker
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Cordero W:

There is a reality out here. Here are a couple of pointers for you:

- Women earn less for equal work
- Women own less property
- Women are subjected to much more harassment than men
- Women are subjected to domestic violence and rape much more than men

(You can easily fact check these if you are interested.)

These differences are uphold by a number of mechanisms and the only way to deal with them is to identify the mechanisms and find ways to either counter them or eradicate them.

Among these mechanisms are the tradition of using tropes and sexist portrayals.

Anita is on a quest to dig into our beloved videogames. Our games are notorious (but not alone) for systematic use of tropes and sexist imagery. Downplaying that effort by claiming it is done just because "She's afraid to go to the movie industry with this same argument" is downright offensive.

So yes, there is absolutely an argument. Your blatant ignorance is just one more of endless confirmations that there is.

Connor Fallon
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Also the "afraid to go after film" bit is totally not true as she has made multiple videos criticizing the film industry... in many ways, games are a harder target because people so passionately defend them.

I just watched her series on Legos and found that one particularly interesting, if anyone wants to look at the rest of her stuff.

Cordero W
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@Zachary: You're implying they threw Peach into Mario 2 for the sake of it. They could have just done like New Super Mario Bros and replaced her with some mundane character, such as a koopa that was put randomly in Mario Kart for the snes. They put her because she was a character of the series. They were not thinking "Oh, I guess we'll throw her in this time since we need extra characters." New Super mario Bros should have had characters other than the two toads, I agree. Daisy would have been a great fit here, but I'm going to assume it was laziness on Nintendo's part to include a fill in character other than the bland two toads.

Yes, she didn't, but it's still 150K. I stated that it doesn't take that much to say what she did other than an afternoon behind the camera. If she's having to raise that money just to research something she didn't know about in the first place and choosing to just pinpoint specific things that favor her argument, then it's not research any longer, but the same thing a kid can do by going to their wiki and finding every keyword that fits their agenda.

@Mikael: There is also another reality out there: women have more rights and forgivings than men. They have stronger cases in court, in culture, and are considered "untouchable." The problem with the women argument is that there's too many double standards going on, and that happens with most liberal views like this.

"Women earn less for equal work"

Quantify equal work. I have read these articles stating that women earn less, but no one went ahead to mention that men pursue more profitable fields than women. THAT is fact. The men are getting paid more because they're going after the bigger jobs. Why do you think there's so few women in the computer science, engineering, biology, and doctor fields, for instance? Women aren't drawn to those fields. They go to jobs such as secretary and nurses, and then complain that they're making less. The science field has probably one of the highest ratio of women to good pay, but why do you think this is? Is it because you don't have to do as much thinking through book smarts as much as just following other's experiments and documenting your own? Or maybe it's because the field is tailored more to women's interests and views?

"Women own less property"

This stems from my argument above. It also comes from another area: men are more dominating than women. We tend to want to show that dominance through many ways, even if it means buying up everything around us. Just like how a woman would go and buy tons of shoes she may not wear until next year, a guy will do the same but with assets he's more interested in to show off his social status. I might as well just say to you "Men own less jewelry."

"Women are subjected to much more harassment than men"

Define harassment. If by harassment you mean complimenting a woman on her looks, that's not harassment, especially if she's wearing clothing that accentuates these qualities. If you mean physically tormenting her, then I understand your plight. Or if someone continues to bother her after she says to leave her alone, THEN it's harassment. There have been a number of cases when women said they were harassed when they really weren't. The case of the football player that got released years later after the woman who claimed she was raped had finally came forward with the truth. Now that man has to rebuild his life from something he never did all because there's far too much sympathy for women in the case of law. Women have a lot more rights than us men ever could have.

"Women are subjected to domestic violence and rape much more than men"

"Much more" is the best way to put it, because it implies a chance. In the company of a man or men who are more ruthless and don't have the will to hold back their aggression, it does become a chance happening, but it's not a fact. There are women who are just as abusive to their husbands, but this gets overshadowed by the feminist movement that is currently at the forefront of all these arguments.

"These differences are uphold by a number of mechanisms and the only way to deal with them is to identify the mechanisms and find ways to either counter them or eradicate them."

You mean change culture altogether, and the natural stimuli that each man and woman are born with. Sorry, but that isn't going to happen unless you can rewrite the gene pool.

"Anita is on a quest to dig into our beloved videogames. Our games are notorious (but not alone) for systematic use of tropes and sexist imagery. Downplaying that effort by claiming it is done just because "She's afraid to go to the movie industry with this same argument" is downright offensive."

Books are, too. So are movies. And so are every other media that is meant to portray a narrative to their audience. Adult erotica books, which are popular among mostly women, have the roles of women in a submissive role. Why? Because innately women love the submissive role. It gives them the attention they like and it allows them to have a masculine strong man potrayed to them. That strength implies safety and comfort, and is only natural for them to fill that way. Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey is a testament to this very notion.

I'm glad to have had this discussion with you. Before calling me out on ignorance, state some facts of your own first before being able to argue this with me.

@Connor: So why did she suddenly need money to start on a video series for video games? She's deliberately targeting the media that is primary directed at men, thus she is going after our interests purposely.

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Mikael Saker
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Cordero W:

"The men are getting paid more because they're going after the bigger jobs."

Less pay for *equal* jobs is well documented.

"If by harassment you mean complimenting a woman on her looks, that's not harassment"

Don't be an ass. Look at the research on how women are subjected to threats and vile sexual assaults online, to begin with.

"I might as well just say to you "Men own less jewelry.""

Are you serious? This have to be one of the worst attempt on argument I've ever seen. Not only is it offensive as hell, it also misses the point completely. If you are rich you have power. For instance, women are less represented in boardrooms and other powercenters partly because they do not own the companies to the same extent as men.

"You mean change culture altogether, and the natural stimuli that each man and woman are born with. Sorry, but that isn't going to happen unless you can rewrite the gene pool."

It is not in our genes to be abusive assholes just as it was not in our genes to treat colored people bad not very long ago.

"I'm glad to have had this discussion with you. Before calling me out on ignorance, state some facts of your own first before being able to argue this with me."

I am sorry to say that you just firmly cemented my view of your ignorance with your last post. Please consider giving these issues further thought and also, do some reading - it is important.

Joe Zachery
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Well at least we are finally handling this in the US. So maybe in 5 to 10 years we can finally work on The RACE issue.

Connor Fallon
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Hopefully sooner... But yes, its important to remember that women are not the only group with representation problems =/

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Josh Bycer
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Watched it last night, I thought it was ok but it started to get repetitive with just focusing on Nintendo with Peach and Zelda. I would have liked to see more discussion on other series like the Double Dragon example. Also a mention on games that bucked the damsel in distress as a counterpoint.

Correct me if I'm wrong but with Star Fox: Adventures I thought the reason for switching to Fox as the main character was a brand decision, as it had more awareness compared to the original game and Rare had trouble with Jet Force Gemini that featured completely new characters.

Joseph Elliott
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That's almost certainly what happened, but it's still disappointing.

Amra C
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Hi there!

Cordero W:
Setting aside the blatant insults towards women (and men)...

What seems to be the case is that you're thinking the 'normal' female behaviour (jewellery etc) and male behaviour (property, cars etc) is thanks to nature rather than nurture. Maybe there's a jewellery gene, and a make-up gene, and for blokes, a porn gene and beer-appreciation gene. Looking at your posts, it's clear that you are seriously underestimating how much nurture can mould an individual.


Read Understanding Ideology by J Fiske, pp172-187 particularly. And then maybe some sociology and biology books. Good luck!

Lewis Wakeford
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You know what, after watching some of her other videos and videos analysing her work, my opinion on her has changed drastically. I'm not sure she can actually perform any meaningful analysis here. In all her videos she does little actual research, doesn't explore or confront counter arguments, and is often contradictory. According to her, depicting women as weak is sexist (obviously) but depicting women as strong is also sexist because they are just pretending to be men, which is hypocritical as she also attacks companies for implying that there IS a masculine/feminine way of acting in the first place. She seems to attack any mildly erotic (or even just slightly less clothed) depiction of women regardless of what the imagery is used for and is a little out of touch with reality (she complained that there where porn adds on pirate bay).

She just has such a shallow view of the whole issue. This series needed to be made, someone needed to do something like this, but after researching Anita Sarkessian a bit I don't believe she was the best person for the job. Not even close. I hate to say it, but I think people rallied behind the wrong person for the right reasons.

Brandon S
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I won't go to in depth but the links below to the first chapter of a book summarize it better than I can She is a Second-wave predominately white upper class American Heterosexual feminist thus a product of her culture and carry the legacy of that particular brand of feminism along with other thing like Race/Class

Not particular directly related to her video , but the fact "She " can speak for all woman is a problem in itself and it rooted in race/class
(Race/class ) , inability to understand the complexity of different woman culture that is non-white non-secular -non-Euro christian , depending heavily on everyone agreeing and joining the sisterhood and taking on the tag feminist when many have very deep issue with them . Constantly saying No where really do represent everyone to maintain there power.

Many of them are surprised that there are woman in other culture who dislike being treated badly by man but are downright insulted by " Anglo-white Feminist " Calling them powerless victims with no will of there own and needed to be spoken for like children and ever sign of femininity as a sign of ending patriarchy . And most attempts at dialogue is the same tokenism many of them accuse the game industry of , Trying to find that one minority that is culturally European enough to join the club White feminist club .

Anti Sexuality ( Pretty important With deep christian heritage roots of viewing anything remotely sensual as a sign of evil/devil and sign of participatory domination and Ultimate source of evil thus a source of all patriarchy ,hell that goes back to the bible and many strongly puritanical views held in the USA. The American habit of complaining about anything remotely sensual while regularly and hypocritically consuming porn ) Long history of being Very Anti-sex workers ,and as progressive as they claim to be they very much inherited much of the dogma christian cultural heritage ancestry and that factor into there point of view.

AntiTrans

I am not particular a Queer activist or anything ,but the second point where she complaining about woman being too masculine , is In Victorian models of femininity simply if your too masculine your no longer a woman you've joined men ,.. so that relates to the prejudice ( Or a man becoming a woman has be contaminated by patriarchy ) In this sorta social construct "The physical sex" is a form of corruption or being in relationships to it .Far as I understand it quite contradictory balance .. . Where to get your woman card you have to adopt the elements associated with femininity ... but then you also associate these elements with the ultimate source of evils . So if she too feminine it bad ( Since we always group fragility and weakness with being a Girl , Not neccessary true ,but that the natural mythology of Anglo-Society, But if your too masculine you've inherited the crimes of men via the physical gender "No She hulk!" . This leads to a kind of unending paradox



They are Imperialistic (A White woman that believe she speak behalf of all woman with radically different cultural backgrounds and view points, classic American /European imperialism , it no different than the White man discussing humanity as a whole Even using the term "Woman " To group countless cultural of people into a Single generic Universal blob ,)

There plenty of woman in many culture that dislike inequality of there particular cultural system /structure, it may surprise miss Anni They don't particular like her or agree with her simply because she a White Feminist . Doesn't hold much credibility in there eyes

To be Fair there "Trying something they call intersectionility " which is akin to putting a token minority character in the movement to project the image of progressiveness why it stay focused almost overwhelming on the concerns of upper-middle class academic educated woman of power. While the hierarchy and structure remain completely the same , View the world through binary opposite"man vs woman competition" and it much more complicated than that .

Can't post the first chapter of that book here (Too long) but you can check out if you want book written by an indigenous woman (Former feminist or has deep issue with the term feminism)

http://www.policyalternatives.ca/publications/ourschools-ourselve
s/feminism-real http://www.policyalternatives.ca/sites/default/files/uploads/publ
ications/National%20Office/2011/02/Feminism_for_Real_Introduction
_Jessica_Yee.pdf
If you want some actual reading on the problem with these things This indigenous woman "feminist' but dislike the academic construct that Miss Anni is very much the pope /queen of can tell it better than me.

Joseph Elliott
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Brandon: I'm pretty sure this video just saying, "women deserve to be more than objects in video games." The fact that she's a white woman has absolutely nothing to do with it.

You're right that different cultures view issues like this differently, but that in no way invalidates the cause. Her approach, at least in this video, is as inclusive as possible. How you could take issue with that, I don't know.

And calling her "Miss Anni" is a shitty thing to do. Please refrain from doing that.

And while you're at it, stop fucking bringing up her race. Race has nothing to do with culture.

Lewis Wakeford
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@Jerry I actually agree with her in this particular instance. But I think this trope is such an easy target that that is to be expected.

Lewis Wakeford
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@Jerry

I agree that the Damsel in Distress trope does objectify women, because you could basically replace them with a valuable inanimate *object* in many cases. It's not always bad to objectify people, if you think about it lots of different characters of both genders are objectified (in the sense that their personality becomes irrelevant and they turn into a "ball"): any NPC in an escort mission, for example. However, some thought should be put into who you are choosing to objectify and, possibly more importantly, why you objectify them.

I don't think the trope is necessarily bad, like all tropes it can be used correctly or misused, but it was overused in the past to the point of becoming cliche and when something that objectifies a specific gender becomes so ubiquitous I think it shows either full-on sexism or ignorance (depending on your motives) to continue the propagation of that trope without a good reason. Basically, as with any trope that targets a specific group, whether its usage is good or bad is dependent on how frequently the trope is used in other works. Another example would be Black Dude Dies First, it isn't automatically racist in isolation but it starts to become a problem when every horror movie invokes it.

Lewis Wakeford
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@Jerry

I see where you are coming from, it can be depicted as romantic. Like I said the trope is not always bad. However, when the trope is just used as an excuse for the action it's obvious that it was not intended as a "Quest Romance". Mario is not a love story, it isn't even a narrative focused game, it's a game about jumping on stuff.

As to reversing the genders, like I said in my last comment, you need to look at how a trope is used in media as whole. One game about saving a damsel is not really an issue, and neither is one game about saving a... there isn't a word for male damsels. Most cases in isolation cannot be portrayed as sexist, but you can see there is a problem when you look at the bigger picture.

Jeferson Soler
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@ Lewis Wakeford - "Mario is not a love story, it isn't even a narrative focused game, it's a game about jumping on stuff." I can vouch for that when it comes to the first three Super Mario Bros. games (four if you include the US version of Super Mario Bros. 2) as Princess Peach (Princess Toadstool at that time) wasn't even Mario's love interest on those games. Likewise, not all incarnations of Zelda and Link are a couple, especially on Twilight Princess. On some Legend of Zelda games, Zelda and Link are just friends/comrades and nothing more.

Lewis Wakeford
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@Jerry

Like I said, it's very difficult to look at a single piece of work and judge it for it's treatment of women. I'm not saying Mario is sexist. I'm saying that if you look at all the games of that era the prevalence of the whole "Damsel in Distress" thing says a lot.

While most game developers are men, and therefore are going to make a lot of stuff from the male perspective, we need to consider why we are doing it. I doubt Shigeru Miyamoto really wanted to tell some great epic love story, he just wanted to make a good platformer. Ditto for games like Double Dragon. So if the designers didn't really care about the whole "Quest Romance" thing, why bother alienating women when the story isn't even relevant to the gameplay, or could easily be replaced with something a bit more gender neutral?

Making something very male-orientated isn't bad. Far Cry 3 is a pretty male-orientated game in terms of the story, it's about a man becoming a killer and enjoying it just a little too much, it even has some Damsel rescuing too. That premise doesn't work as well with a woman, and I doubt it appeals to women as much because men can relate to the whole "inner violence" thing better. The difference between Far Cry 3 and Mario is that the narrative of FC3 was intended to be a large part of the game, while in Mario it's just a throwaway excuse for the action. Both games could be interpreted as male focused, but one has a very good reason to go down that route while the other doesn't.

Jeferson Soler
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@ Lewis Wakeford - "I'm saying that if you look at all the games of that era the prevalence of the whole "Damsel in Distress" thing says a lot." That's true and I agree with you! Also, in defense to Miyamoto, one has to keep in mind about a couple of things:

1. Nintendo originally wanted to do a Popeye game and the Popeye animated shorts often revolved around Popeye having to rescue Olive. Eventually, Nintendo did manage to get the rights to Popeye and produced a Popeye game, but before that, Nintendo did Donkey Kong instead and the titular character was influenced by King Kong ('nuff).

2. Miyamoto was involved in the Donkey Kong Jr. project, in which the titular character attempts to rescue Papa Donkey Kong. Donkey Kong is the "damsel" in distress in this case. Although, I do wonder about the point-of-view on Pauline as the one that needs to be rescued vs. Donkey as the one that needs to be rescued. Would DK be viewed differently from Pauline?

3. Different cultures have different way of seeing things. This is not an attack on the Japanese culture as I like Japan and the Japanese and this is most definitely not an attack on Shigeru Miyamoto as I'm a fan of his, but it is something that needs to be made aware of when it comes to breaking through barriers in the videogame industry. There are people from different cultures that are opening their minds to different ideas, but we are not there yet.

@ Jerry Shamblin - I admire your point-of-view as it is very constructive and well-thought out and I wish that I could agree with your comments, but there's an old, archived article that actually proves one of the points that Anita was trying to bring. The credit goes to another person for this find, but here's the link to the archived newspaper: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=zQ4OAAAAIBAJ&sjid=jnwDAAAAIB
AJ&dq=dragon%27s%20lair&pg=6462%2C517664. Here's how Don Bluth describes the characters:

Princess Daphne and Dirk the Daring - "Daphne's elevator definitely didn't go all the way to the top floor," Bluth continues. "But she served a purpose. She was the prize at the end of the first in a series of very difficult games for a then-unsophisticated audience. And besides, Dirk, her knight in shining armor, was no mental giant."

Kimmie - "Oh, she's just as tall and, in a more civilized way, as pretty. But - curse or bonus - she's got a brain, and with it, a mouth."

There are more details on the article, but even by reading the entire article, you will get the same results. In other words, Anita wasn't far off with her comments, especially about Daphne. Don Bluth himself admitted that Daphne wasn't that bright and that she was the prize. Kimmie was 180 degrees from Daphne, but she was still viewed as a prize (more specifically, a better prize). Of course, Kimmie may be viewed as a stronger female character in comparison to Daphne and Don even did a YouTube art tutorial on how to draw Kimmie beating up a bad guy (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WWsCu0qryGA). If there's any actual criticism on Anita's video is that there was/is this one missed opportunity that she could have used to reinforce her message on the "damsel in distress" trope. After all, even main man Don Bluth, a professional, admitted to the idea behind the characters from Dragon's Lair and Space Ace.

Jeferson Soler
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@ Jerry Shamblin - "The fact that you can reverse genders in Quest Romance and then all of the sudden the trope seems ok, as Anita suggests, should tell you it's not the plot device's fault, but the perspective of the person who views women in a certain role as objects. Anita is actually doing the exact same thing she is accusing men of doing."

Fair enough and I can't disagree with you on that one! As Lewis pointed out, the "damsel in distress" trope was prevalent in the older games, but some of the "damsels" in the "damsel in distress" games were not "damsels", like Donkey Kong in Donkey Kong Jr. and the baby kangaroo in Kangaroo. In case of Kangaroo, it would be interesting to hear Anita's opinion on that one. It is not everything that I will agree with Anita on, so I do wonder if she would embrace the game for having a female strong enough to even beat up some gorillas and to save her own son or if she would deconstruct and typecast/stereotype the game due to the game being about a mother trying to save her son. Personally, I'm hoping for the former, but we shall see eventually.

"I think one thing I do agree with Anita on is that we can certainly use more female protagonists in games. We don't have enough. "

I agree with that as well. Plus, considering the popularity of Ms. Pac-Man (among other game titles with female leads), there are people that are OK with female protagonists in a videogame. The videogame just have to be done right and without looking like that some things have been shoehorned.

Eric McVinney
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Watched the video and thoughts came to mind:

1. While she did have some certain solid points made about women having been the object of desire, or the "ball," this trope is changing and I hope that she will recognize that (in later videos).

2. Why did she need a Kickstarter campaign to do this? Seriously, folks. Why? I read her Kickstarter and understood is that all that she wanted to accomplish is something anyone could do for free. If she wants to look "professional" when presenting her arguements, then save up that dough and pay a bit extra for the equipment that you need.

3. (Back to the video). Nothing new presented itself from this "research" that she has claimed to do, as these arguements/points were heard and understood in this industry. Give us something new. A new perspective or understanding of how we can change things around and not pointing at the problem saying "Fix it." :/

Joseph Elliott
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2. You could make that same argument about basically anything ever on kickstarter. You're missing the whole point. People gave her money because they believed in the project. She gave them a well reasoned video with high production values. You may not have given her money, which is fine, but for the people who did, she's delivering on her promise.

3. This is the very first video. I agree that it would be nice to see from fresh angles, but clearly even the basics aren't really being addressed as much as they should be in our industry. So, she's starting at the start, and no one but her can say where she's going to take it. I imagine, although I obviously can't know for certain, that the ideas discussed will expand as the series progresses. Which is perfectly logical, no?

[User Banned]
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Eric McVinney
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@ Joseph - Sure, but she didn't need to have a Kickstarter to do so. I've had my fair share of video production and what she has accomplished is something a person with enough drive and ambition could do for free. Also, "high production values"? Seriously? To each their own, I guess >_>;


@Dan - When it comes to the Japanese companies, there's no surprise there. She'd have a snowball's chance in Hell before change like that would ever happen in Japan. Worked there, seen it, etc etc... As for these arguements not being heard, I believe that they have, but it's up to the top devs/pubs to make that change (and others would follow!).

Joseph Elliott
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Eric: I have a film and television background. I know you could accomplish that for free with a DSLR and some decent After Effects, but it would take a whole lot of time. The exact same thing could be said about nearly every indie game ever funded on kickstarter. That point just doesn't hold water. People were willing to give her money for the time she's investing into the project, and, if the first video is anything to go by, she certainly spent a considerable amount of time working on it. As much money as she raised? Surely not. But she asked for a small fraction of the money she got. And again, she's making an unknown number of videos. This is but a small sample.

When I say high production values, I mean someone spent a considerable amount of time making that video shine. Whether it was her, or someone else she paid to do it, it looks good. The animations are slick, and some quality design work went into them. But that's REALLY beside the point.

Jeferson Soler
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@ Joseph Elliott - For a Kickstarter independent project, the quality was definitely real good, in my opinion. Also, to add to what you just said, there's also the issue of renting equipments and/or soundproof room. In case of the equipments, there are some equipments that you can't just buy and have to rent instead. At least, that's something that some independent filmmakers will tend to tackle with unless I'm mistaken. In that regard, using Kickstarter is not a bad idea.

John Byrd
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Michael Mika fixed that for you.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JeXDNg7scyU&feature=youtu.be

Eric McVinney
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Pauline's behind was presented towards the player in a sexual manner... (Am I trolling? We'll never know! dun dun duuuuun)


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