Tropes vs Anita Sarkeesian and Gamers Against Games

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Tropes vs Anita Sarkeesian and Gamers Against Games

Memorial by Paul Reinwand

Hello, Escapist readers! As part of our partnership with curation website Critical Distance, we'll be bringing you a weekly digest of the coolest games criticism, analysis and commentary from around the web. Let's hit it!

Before we start today: the new videogame StoryBundle is out, containing books by Anna Anthropy, Colin Campbell and Zoya Street as well as the first six issues of Five Out of Ten magazine. You should get it.

Now that that's out there, I also want to note that this edition of the roundup has a general content warning for at least the following: sexual harassment, stalking, rape threats, death threats, and misogynist slurs. Please use your discretion when proceeding.

First off: if you haven't seen it yet, Anita Sarkeesian's Tropes vs Women in Videogames series has released the second in its two-part episode on "women as background decoration." (Additional content warning: graphic sexual violence.)

The release of Sarkeesian's video, amidst the ongoing tensions and attacks on women in the industry, has led to Sarkeesian receiving credible death threats on her and her family, forcing her to leave her home. It's also led to quite a bit of discussion elsewhere, mainly on the subject of the sustained harassment against her.

At The New Statesman, Ian Steadman takes a couple cues from Sarkeesian's own videos to provide an excellent breakdown in the logical fallacies used to "debunk" and derail the criticisms present in the video series.

While not referencing Sarkeesian specifically, this post by former GameSpot critic Carolyn Petit does a good job at countering the argument that games are beyond cultural criticism:

Games are not politically neutral. Neither are mainstream romantic comedies, or action films, or any novel I've ever read. They may sometimes appear politically neutral if the values they reinforce mesh with the value systems of the larger culture, but our culture is not politically neutral, either, and it is not outside of the role of a critic to comment on or raise questions about the political meanings embedded in the works one evaluates. In fact, it is often impossible to review something apolitically, because to not comment on or challenge the political meanings in a work in your review is to give them your tacit endorsement.

At The Verge, Adi Robertson also expounds on this theme, in particular the assertion that depictions of women in games can be defended as "realistic":

"Why is it video games need to be politically and societally [sic] correct? The whole point of video games is to escape reality and have fun."

If that's the goal, games like Watch Dogs are failing horribly.

You know what's not escapism? Having to wonder if any given game (or movie, or book) you pick up is going to include women primarily as prostitutes, murdered girlfriends, vulnerable daughters, and rape victims. [...] Oddly, when someone raises these issues, the people who have been stridently defending their games as "just games" switch to explaining why having women in other roles is unrealistic. A gritty, stylized world built on the corpses of women is defended as a way for gamers to escape from reality, but if someone points out that it makes them uncomfortable, they're told that they're supposed to be uncomfortable.

At The Globe and Mail, Emma M. Woolley concurs, asserting that the claims of "corruption" only obfuscate a far greater problem:

Gaming's most pervasive issue isn't corruption, but the people who've taken ownership of something that isn't solely theirs to begin with. In trying their damnedest to limit the appeal of the medium and use online harassment to achieve their goals, this group of toxic trolls are proving themselves to be gaming's biggest problem.

Developer Elizabeth Sampat draws into sharp focus how Zoe Quinn is only the latest in a march of countless women who have been harassed in the industry, many to the point of being forced out:

I could tell you stories about the voices we've lost, the women we've scarred, the people we've left behind. I want to, but I'm not sure you'd get it. I tweeted earlier today, We should have a war memorial for all of the women we have lost to this. We should lay flowers and grieve and see our reflections in stone. And I meant it. I wish there were a way to honor the people our industry has wronged, and a way to visualize the enormity of what we have lost because of it- some representation of the gap between what games are and what they can be, and the pieces of the bridge between that have fallen away.

(Since its posting, artist Paul Reinwand painted a concept piece of what such a memorial would look like. You can see it at the head of this post.)

Lastly, if you're having trouble puzzling out these current events, the latest Idle Thumbs episode does it justice. I believe it's Chris Remo who declares early on in the recording that trying to engage with the torrent of abusers has been "like Buzz Aldrin dealing with that Moon [conspiracy] guy."

There's a bunch more on this subject in our latest roundup. I highly encourage everyone to read further before commenting.

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Permalink

I'm not entirely sure how to respond to this - but I do feel that a response is warranted.

From the Quinnspiracy SNAFU to Anita's ongoing ideological video game crusade, I find it very hard to buy her 'I had to move' story. Thunderf00t put it well in his vid on the topic when he noted that from some of his earlier videos he had gotten some death-treats too... but he didn't go crying to social media about it: He went to the FBI, which quite honestly is the appropriate response to such things.

Of course, Anita, being well known to cherry-pick from her criticism and only really use the bits that further her own agenda (She was once asked in a CNN interview if she simply should just stop feeding the trolls, she had no answer...) is - in my honestly opinion, and with no other credible evidence available, likely just another attention-grab to drum up more support and reinforce her eternal role as victim of the ever-so evil patriarchy.

And heavens forbid anyone even entertaining the idea that she herself, or some of her supporters, cooked up those threats simply for her to use as PR tools. I mean, its not like in the last few weeks that other people of note in the gaming community have been making dubious claims regarding being victim of criminal acts from online baddies? (I'm looking at you Phil Fish)

So no. I'm not buying it.

In regards to the rest of the article: The Quinnspiracy has painted a fairly comprehensive 'map' of what gaming news sites that can be trusted or not to be reasonably honest and balanced when its comes to SJW related topics, so... not entirely sure how much the other articles I'm even willing to consider anything other than biased SJW hot air.

That said.

A memorial for the people that the gaming industry has wrong? What a delightful american way of thinking.

I personally think some better unions for people working in game dev companies would be much more fruitful - but union is a 5-letter word in the US.

I... I can not even begin to describe how utterly atrocious and offensive this piece is...

General content warning? TRIGGER WARNINGS!? You couldn't be more blatantly obvious that you are entirely dismissing one groups side if you were trying!

A memorial to the woman lost?!

How about a damned memorial to the ten year old boy who had his life threatened by a group of feminist whiny bitches! Only woman deserve this memorial for how they've been scarred?!

I can't even begin to...

GAH!

SHIT, I WONDER IF THERE IS A WHOLE 'NOTHER SIDE TO THIS STORY OR ANYTHING

http://gamergateharrassment.tumblr.com/

Nope, couldn't possibly be.

I'll be boycotting Critical Distance from now on. Maybe the entire site, depending on Archeon's statement this week.

Certainly not even a hint of an agenda being pushed in this completely fact checked, opinion free, unbiased article.

Eeyup, it's not like SJW haven't harrased a youtuber off the internet recently...

Oh wait, they did.

Uh-huh.

So, euh ... who thought this'd be a bright idea? I mean, in a forum where the (as of now) second largest thread proves we're smart enough to know otherwise ... how did you even think it'd be a smart idea to promote this? I mean, we can tear everything in this article to shreds with relative easy, you know that right? It's like you're trolls baiting us to react.

Boy, gamers being assholes and harassers, Anita making headlines again, and evil misogynists. Where have I heard this before...

It's almost like people are trying to push an agenda and try to spin a narrative on this entire situation. But no, surely the Escapist is above such corruption.

This whole thing involes the same freaking women who are proven to sleeping with each other and paying each others bills, why the same hell is this even allowed anymore? Do any of these sites ever care about their ethics, guess every site just wants to live in their SMALL bubble while the rest of us enjoy our lives. Stop the damn agenda and come clean all of this crap is public no point in denying it anymore.

Just a bit of a counter to the one sided nature of this "article". This shit has been happening a lot. The hypocrisy more then anything else pisses me off. Anyone who wants to talk about harassment being the issue and doesn't cover stuff like this happening is a piece of shit.

I'll repost something I made in a different thread here, as it's even more relevant in this thread.

I have something special for The Escapist near the end of the post.

But seriously, the gaming media has been in decline since the start of the seventh Gen. Why? Because it's pretty much obsolete, and this is an argument I had hoped to save until I had an adequate platform to do so.

Back in ye olden times, the only source of news, tips, cheats, advice or information came from Magazines. You had to buy Nintendo Power or Mean Machines to stay in the loop, but over the years, gaming media misinterpreted our reliance upon it as our trust or applied value in it.

What they never quite got is that we olden gamers never really took the opinions of the reviewers as something important. The main, central reason why we bought the magazines was to simply SEE the games and they wonder whether they looked like something we wanted to play or not. Even better if a friend had it, because we could go round their house or borrow it to see if it was any good.

Unfortunately, as the years went by, through the fifth Gen and to the sixth, gaming journalism became less important thanks to the internet, because why pay money for a magazine when you can find out precisely what you want for free (or at least as a side perk to your internet bill).

Welcome to the dawn of the internet age, where gamers have no need for the "professional" gaming media. Any news you need, can be found without supporting the gaming media. Any cheats, guides or walkthroughs you need, can be found without even having to see the crappy reactionary opinion of "journalists" desperate to carve out a career for themselves.

You see, "games journalism" is a carryover relic from the past, desperate to carve out some relevance in today's gaming society, so they "report" on "news" or sensationalist bollocks to stir up page views and some semblance of relevance. They have no real purpose, no gamer should be supporting them because they don't actually need to and that's a very real and very well-known fear within gaming media.

Personally, I'd do away with all of it. No-one needs them anymore, it's a "non-job" and they are either vocal advocates of incendiary opinions or just another site through which publishers market their wares. Save everyone a whole heap of cash and just kick the gaming media in the head and kill it off. Publishers already do a fine job of advertising their own crap.

It would also force newer gamers to do what we had to, and that is to be able to tell a turd from a mile away. Sure, we got it wrong occasionally, but that's part of the learning experience. This whole "don't judge it until you've played it" mentality appears to have been seeded by the gaming media about a decade ago, and yet that's exactly how you chose your games before then. That also explains why the Japanese gaming industry (and audience) only trusts established franchises. You go with what you know, and that's why we have these massive franchises out of Japan.

The only regret I'd have with felling the gaming media is that places like The Escapist or VideoGamer.com would be victims of it. I came to The Escapist because of the way and style it is run, and people like Alexander Macris and Greg Tito demonstrate that on a daily basis. It's like a psychological safe haven amidst an ocean of fabricated controversy and marketed BS. That's the only reason why I even bother to post here. Places like this and VideoGamer.com are few and far between, and the way things are, it's hard to see how "the industry" could be cleaned up from here. There's simply too much shit and too many bad habits that are pervasive throughout gaming media as a whole to be able to bring it back to something genuinely pleasant or desirable.

For me, I support people like Angry Joe, Jim Sterling and Yahtzee Croshaw. I support the elements of gaming media or gamers themselves that have adapted to become entertainment and not so much "This is my opinion as an industry professional and therefore it is inherently more valuable than that of anyone who isn't a professional". And I say "professional" in the loosest possible terms. Thanks to people like James Rolfe, we have creative people endeavouring to create entertainment relevant to gamers, and that's brilliant and definitely something I support; but the "old gaming media"? They have no purpose anymore, and with regards to the OP in particular, that only goes to prove my point.

Boy, talk about adding fuel to the fires...

Anyway, most of this stuff has been analyzed/talked about WAY before this was ever posted

And to think that Labor Day would be relatively peaceful

This article has trigger warnings.

TRIGGER

WARNINGS.

No, this is beyond pathetic. This isn't even a discussion anymore and it was barely ever one to begin with. Just put forth your viewpoint as the only right and logical conclusion, sweep away or ignore any potential criticism and suggest that LITERAL MONUMENTS be erected in honor of those you champion?

No, just no. I have had enough of hordes of braying idiots calling each other mean names and attacking any who would dare not fall into neat lines behind them. There is clearly nothing to be gained from this so-called 'debate' and has degenerated into the equivalent of pigs and asses occupying an echo chamber.

Good day to you, Sir or Madam, as I respectfully take my leave.

Jesus. H. Christ.

I am so goddamn sick of this narrative that women - only women, always women, never men - are the only ones harassed online. Are the only ones who get targeted by assholes. Are indicative of some deeper problem in the industry.

Zoe Quinn is the latest in a march of women harassed by gamers? No, Zoe Quinn is the latest in a march of people harassed by gamers. Or have you forgotten so many others that have been bullied in this industry? Ryan Perez. Josh Olin. JonTron. Total Biscuit. Brad Wardell. Jayd3fox. Wizardchan. TFYC. Probably countless other no-name enthusiasts that have had their harassment gone unknown since no one pays attention to them.

Why, why do we only care when it happens to women? Why are we so bloody set on demonizing an entire community, on turning women into precious porcelain dolls, insisting they're too fragile, too delicate to put up with all the obstacles a man must face. Us women, no, apparently we're not strong, independent creatures. Apparently we're delicate, wilting flowers that need strong, brave men like you to save us from the big bad Patriarchy. JonTron's getting harassed? Who cares. Brad Wardell's getting doxxed and threatened? Meh, he's a dude. Anita gets some threats over Twitter? Stop the goddamn presses, let's all rush to her defense and condemn this terrible misogyny in the gaming community - probably by harassing and threatening any of her detractors.

This isn't equality. Not by a long shot. Look up the phrase "benevolent sexism," and then get back to me. Maybe you'll understand how you're little better than those who make such threats in the first place.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGPKKSymHHM Whole video dedicated about Men who get the same damn insults that these women are getting and guess what they do? They fucking deal with it and understand they're trolls and if one gets to personal they fucking tell the authorties they don't post it on fucking twitter and whine and complain because they're being treated equality both good and bad.

No this is the last damn straw.

This needs to be an all out war at this point.

I am tired of having these game media outlets demonize me for my gaming.

I am tired of the hypocritical bullshit!

It needs to be an official statement from some damn person.

This is war!

You brought this war on the gamers, now it's our turn to play.

From this day onward, the gamers are going to create a new narrative.

And at the end of it all, it will be the gamers that still stand.

I would like to thank you Escapist. For the past two weeks many people in the forums looked at that thread and laughed, It was a joke crazy people going on about conspiracies and all that...but you decided to bring it all to the front page where EVERYONE can see it adding more fuel to the fire. So continue on trying to paint all gamers as sexists, you are only digging your grave deeper.

Reported.
No seriously, for the 1st time in my entire life as a member of this site I am flagging the OP.

Shame on you Escapist. There is a new trailer for Persona 5. Should we post news about it? No, lets post this.

And no, I am not clicking any links to read further on their site(s). You are not getting click-to-coin with my help.

Saetha:
Jesus. H. Christ.

I am so goddamn sick of this narrative that women - only women, always women, never men - are the only ones harassed online. Are the only ones who get targeted by assholes. Are indicative of some deeper problem in the industry.

Zoe Quinn is the latest in a march of women harassed by gamers? No, Zoe Quinn is the latest in a march of people harassed by gamers. Or have you forgotten so many others that have been bullied in this industry? Ryan Perez. Josh Olin. JonTron. Total Biscuit. Brad Wardell. Jayd3fox. Wizardchan. TFYC. Probably countless other no-name enthusiasts that have had their harassment gone unknown since no one pays attention to them.

Why, why do we only care when it happens to women? Why are we so bloody set on demonizing an entire community, on turning women into precious porcelain dolls, insisting they're too fragile, too delicate to put up with all the obstacles a man must face. Us women, no, apparently we're not strong, independent creatures. Apparently we're delicate, wilting flowers that need strong, brave men like you to save us from the big bad Patriarchy. JonTron's getting harassed? Who cares. Brad Wardell's getting doxxed and threatened? Meh, he's a dude. Anita gets some threats over Twitter? Stop the goddamn presses, let's all rush to her defense and condemn this terrible misogyny in the gaming community - probably by harassing and threatening any of her detractors.

This isn't equality. Not by a long shot. Look up the phrase "benevolent sexism," and then get back to me. Maybe you'll understand how you're little better than those who make such threats in the first place.

Bix96:
I would like to thank you Escapist. For the past two weeks many people in the forums looked at that thread and laughed, It was a joke crazy people going on about conspiracies and all that...but you decided to bring it all to the front page where EVERYONE can see it adding more fuel to the fire. So continue on trying to paint all gamers as sexists, you are only digging your grave deeper.

Don't worry, I don't want to bother you with this awful topic. I want to ask you something from a nicer world.

Who is on your avatars? She looks nice.

Mister K:
Sniparoo

She's Vivian James

Essentially, she's the character /v/ created for the Fine Young Capitalist project

For more info:

http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/vivian-james

EDIT: Whoops, that's for Bix's avatar, I dunno who's on Saetha's

Apologies

You missed a Trigger Warning; "Badly Written Article".

Saetha:
Jesus. H. Christ.

I am so goddamn sick of this narrative that women - only women, always women, never men - are the only ones harassed online. Are the only ones who get targeted by assholes. Are indicative of some deeper problem in the industry.

Zoe Quinn is the latest in a march of women harassed by gamers? No, Zoe Quinn is the latest in a march of people harassed by gamers. Or have you forgotten so many others that have been bullied in this industry? Ryan Perez. Josh Olin. JonTron. Total Biscuit. Brad Wardell. Jayd3fox. Wizardchan. TFYC. Probably countless other no-name enthusiasts that have had their harassment gone unknown since no one pays attention to them.

Why, why do we only care when it happens to women? Why are we so bloody set on demonizing an entire community, on turning women into precious porcelain dolls, insisting they're too fragile, too delicate to put up with all the obstacles a man must face. Us women, no, apparently we're not strong, independent creatures. Apparently we're delicate, wilting flowers that need strong, brave men like you to save us from the big bad Patriarchy. JonTron's getting harassed? Who cares. Brad Wardell's getting doxxed and threatened? Meh, he's a dude. Anita gets some threats over Twitter? Stop the goddamn presses, let's all rush to her defense and condemn this terrible misogyny in the gaming community - probably by harassing and threatening any of her detractors.

This isn't equality. Not by a long shot. Look up the phrase "benevolent sexism," and then get back to me. Maybe you'll understand how you're little better than those who make such threats in the first place.

Don't think for a second I could have thought of a better or more poignant statement about the current times.

Now there's at least 7-8 topics on femenism,SJW,Aninta and Zoe all in the gamer discussion area, good job Escapist everything is now about those topics, nothing is about gaming anymore.

Fuck why do I still even come here anymore, it;s not like there's much discussion with gaming here anyway when it;s either those topics above or PC vs console, seriously it's gone to shit.

logic common sense and truth be dammed am i missing anything?

GamerGate:
Eeyup, it's not like SJW haven't harrased a youtuber off the internet recently...

Oh wait, they did.

Who?

ConanThe3rd:
You missed a Trigger Warning; "Badly Written Article".

Content from The Escapist has really gotten bad lately, kinda makes me wish I didn't go pub-club in the beginning of the year.

Cool, I support this idea. Will there be any conversation about endemic ableist and body-shaming language among games journalists?

"Gee wiz, fellas, anybody hear about that Zoe Quin/Anita Sarkeesian controversy?"

*facepalm*

Smooth, Escapist, very smooth.

Ed130 The Vanguard:

Content from The Escapist has really gotten bad lately, kinda makes me wish I didn't go pub-club in the beginning of the year.

I suggest you cancel it in paypal or else it will auto-renew.

Ed130 The Vanguard:

GamerGate:
Eeyup, it's not like SJW haven't harrased a youtuber off the internet recently...

Oh wait, they did.

Who?

ConanThe3rd:
You missed a Trigger Warning; "Badly Written Article".

Content from The Escapist has really gotten bad lately, kinda makes me wish I didn't go pub-club in the beginning of the year.

Got this https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhV4BDjP0-M for just doing this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0aCyCwEj62g

But yeah know MORAL HIGH GROUND BULLSHIT!!

While I appreciate the sentiment, a memorial is not what we need. What we need is people to honestly put their hands over their hearts and swear 'never again' in regards to harassment. Not women, not men, not children, not small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. Too often is this attitude flying around:

And it's simply not okay to harass or send death threats anyone, least of all ten year old children. What's happening to Zoe and Anita is terrible, but let's not forget they aren't the only ones.

Hi there. I am a feminist. I am also a gamer. Guess what I come to the escapist to enjoy?

Yeah clearly highly charged and complex socio-political issues that stem deeper than one industry with growing pains. Yhep. Definitely not game news and ESCAPISM FROM THAT EXHAUSTING SUBJECT.

I echo the above statement. Extremism is fucking disgusting. End of discussion.

Wow the Escapist just hit a new low, truly never have I seen a piece of Escapist "content" more bias and more cloaked in an agenda until now.

wizzy555:

Ed130 The Vanguard:

Content from The Escapist has really gotten bad lately, kinda makes me wish I didn't go pub-club in the beginning of the year.

I suggest you cancel it in paypal or else it will auto-renew.

I used Amazon but thanks for the advice, the payment for Pub-Club been canceled.

Maybe when articles beyond Yahtzee and to a lesser extent Jim and Moviebob improve I'll re-apply but for now I'm just going to coast on my current paid year for now.

Really? This is what you want to show us given the storm that's going on right now? When even the old school feminists are joining the side of the gamers, you think that this is right?

Take a look at off topic right now, and gaming discussion, there are two very large threads proving everything in here wrong, and you still insist on presenting it in the news section as fact?

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