Anita Sarkeesian is a controversial internet feminist who publishes Youtube videos under the name of Feminist Frequency. The intended purpose of these videos is to highlight sexism in the area of all things geeky - unfortunately for the most part her arguments appear to lack substance – but that’s not what I’m here to write about. (You can read my article, "How to lose viewers and alienate gamers" for more on that topic). I would like to focus on one video in particular, namely Damsel in Distress: Tropes vs Women in videogames which highlights how most women characters in our favourite games are there to be pursued, or have sexy times with, provide overly-sexualised eye-candy and often do not serve an actual person between the above three listed.
If you don't feel like watching this video, because it is rather lengthy, I'll give you the TL;DW because she does have a point:
In the Super Mario series, we are introduced to Princess Peach, an insipid and vacuous female who seems unable to do much beyond functioning as a kidnapping victim for the evil Koopa Troop. She’s a sort of Stepford Wife-type princess; clad in a pink ball-gown (designed to reflect her girlish nature), this weak-willed floozy waits to be rescued by her hero, Mario.
Bayonetta is a game about a witch on the rampage. At first glance, she may appear empowered, because she does wield guns and beat the stuffing out of many enemies, but when one looks a bit deeper (i.e. plays the game for longer than 30 seconds), we see that every movement she makes is sexual. From her panther-like walk to her leaps through the air that somehow manage to simulate masturbation (quite impressive that that’s even possible really), there is very little Bayonetta does that isn’t designed to create stirrings in the crotchal area. It also helps that she’s clothed in skin-tight black leather and high heels.
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas gave us the opportunity to enjoy the “Hot Coffee Mod.” Playing as Carl Johnson aka “CJ” you often have the opportunity to take girls on dates. If they enjoy themselves, they will invite you in for “coffee” (if you know what I mean). The mod allowed you to actually be involved in these X-rated activities through a series of mini-games.
The reason for this preamble is that there is a series of games that goes beyond those stereotypes and it’s called Sanctum. It’s an interesting mix of first-person-shooter action and tower defence and tells the story of Skye Autumn, a female character who isn’t dressed like she’s about to assume the position on a stripper pole. Instead of a weeping, wailing woman who can’t do anything without being rescued by a male character, Skye is a soldier and the best Core Guardian in her city. She kicks the asses and takes the names of the various aliens who attack her city. She’s not just a pair of boobs with a gun; she is a 3-dimensional human being and soldier who just happens to be a woman.
This is a move in the right direction for feminism in the videogame world and hopefully will be continued as a trend.
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