Thursday, May 30, 2013

Go Anita Sarkeesian

Anita Sarkeesian is producing a series of videos called Tropes vs Women in Video games, and this is the latest video (also see part 1). Warning: lots of violence.

A bit about the history of the project:  Anita Sarkeesian proposed it on Kickstarter, and got a lot of backlash and harrassment for it.  In the counterbacklash, the project got way overfunded ($160,000 when she asked for $6000).  As a result, it has very nice production values.  I like it a lot.

But the video also felt discomforting in a way that's difficult to express.  I've only played a few of the specific games mentioned in the video, but every single trope felt familiar.  And while there was much horrifying graphic violence, it simultaneously felt completely ordinary.  And the fact that it felt ordinary was itself sickening.  And then to see the same story lines be repeated a hundred times made it worse.  In any particular game, violence seems justified through extraordinary circumstances, but when the same "extraordinary circumstances" appear in game after game, it becomes inexcusable.

Incidentally, on Sarkeesian's blog, I found this video series Extra Credits.  The creators view video games as a medium, just like TV, movies, or literature.  They have lots of ideas on the direction of the gaming industry.

These days I play more board games than video games.  Board gaming is also male-dominated (at least in the US), because when I was younger they were marketed almost exclusively to boys.  There also used to be a lot of war games that were basically terrible.  These days a lot of board games no longer center on war or violence, but the male majority persists.