Anita Sarkeesian launched her preemptively hated “Tropes vs Women in Video Games” series today, and it’s pretty benign. A large part of it is simply a female-oriented retrospective of Star Fox Adventures, Mario, and Zelda. When it comes to the actual feminist arguments they aren’t really wrong, though they are shallow and perhaps misguided. There’s some truth to be had. After all, the damsel in distress is pretty much the most literal possible interpretation of “objectifying women.”
“The Tropes vs Women in Video Games project aims to examine the plot devices and patterns most often associated with female characters in gaming from a systemic, big picture perspective. This series will include critical analysis of many beloved games and characters, but remember that it is both possible (and even necessary) to simultaneously enjoy media while also being critical of it’s more problematic or pernicious aspects.”
Episode one focuses heavily on only a handful of franchises, which doesn’t feel particularly comprehensive. This is especially true when the games discussed are almost exclusively from Japan. It was funny to hear her rag on Double Dragons Neon, a game where the two protagonists are designed to be seen as awful people. I also found it frustrating and puzzling that she kept talking about the damsel in distress as a problem in the present tense when she was speaking exclusively about games that are 1-3 decades old.
That’s really the problem here. The start of Sarkeesian’s series serves to adequately define a term that everyone already understands. Good job, I guess? You really can’t make modern social commentary based on old evidence. Apparently the next episode will be about modern games, leaving episode 1 to mostly be narrow and irrelevant.
Did Anita Sarkeesian deserve the massive wave of mysoginist hatred that spewed forth once her Kickstarter went live? No, of course not, but that’s the internet for you. This isn’t going to take our toys away and no one should really be offended. It’s just…bland.