Earlier on this blog we may have touched on the recent Tropes Vs. Women in Video Games controversy, and while I don’t believe we contributed a full post to it, it felt as though everything that had to be said had been said. Now that the first two sections, both touching on the Damsels in Distress trope, have been posted and the internet has responded in its total manner of chaos blended with intellect, the truth is really there. Is this really the product that every mean-hearted, trolling, and down-right horrible post was scared of? And, yes, in my opinion they were scared. They were scared that this project would somehow damage or break the walls of the gaming community, the ‘gamer’ identity, and the realm of gaming that has for so long presented itself as being open.
But, as discussed on a previous post about the 'Gamer' identity, the ‘Gamer’ label is in itself exclusionary, and the realm of gaming does have walls. Did these trolls and harassers think that the walls they spend so much time building and reinforcing were going to be so easily broken by one web series about women in video games? I could only hope. But no, those walls are strong, and the exclusionary, predominantly white heterosexual male girders holding them up are not easily taken down.
Anita Sarkeesian’s first two released videos are tame, very much so. These videos brim information, with detailed research into the history of the Damsel in Distress, the history of video games, variety of the trope, a multitude of both modern and more classic games, and how the Damsel in Distress trope was transferred over to video games from earlier media. Anita appears to have taken great care in ensuring that her videos can reach a wide audience. While I am sure that she is fully capable of in-depth feminist discussion with the appropriate jargon, she presents herself and the information in a wide-reaching manner. This allows for an open audience and open discussion between its viewers.
This makes it even less threatening in some ways, and more in others. The videos are clear, concise, and intellectual and can be understood by all. Those trolling harassers can see her side of the argument in full, plain view and they can no longer fear that it will be feminist jargon, going over their heads on purpose to alienate them from what is attacking them. There is no alienation, the video is all access. So, this is less frightening. But then comes the more frightening.
Because everything is so clear Anita can get her points and her research across quickly and efficiently. And for viewers like myself, it is a frighteningly large amount of information on just one of the several tropes she will be exploring in her series. The pure amount of information, of games that conform to these tropes, is overwhelming. As a female gamer I now spend a portion of time examining games as I play and enjoy them. But I did not do so when I was younger or until just a few years ago. Just the massive amount of games I have played that were on her list upset me (For the list, please visit this link for the Damsel in Distress Video).
|Check out all the example of a Damsel in Distress over at the Tropes vs. Women in Videos Games Tumblr.|
The trope of Damsel in Distress not only permeates a large number of games, but it does so in such varying manners as to have subsets. She examines these subsets not only in how they change gaming, but how they effect and have been effected by additional types of media. And it is so common. These tropes are being used to pump out low quality games with poor storytelling just to force feed the gamer mind. A Forbes contributor, Jen Bosier, said it just as I wanted to, “This isn’t just demeaning to women, it’s demeaning to gamers in general”.
I want better games, for everyone. And that means creating in-depth stories that are not demeaning for the ever-expanding gaming community. These videos should in some small amount be feared, they are airing out the video games community’s closet and showing the world that, yes, things do need to change.