I usually don't respond to things like this but I have an opinion and I want somebody to hear it.
That being said, I felt I had to say something with regards to this topic.
I'm not a female. I'm not a "male feminist." I think the idea of a feminist today is rather stupid. I'm also black and happen to not be a civil rights activist. The idea of a civil rights activist in America to me is also equally absurd. The idea that any person should define themselves as a pursuant of any one demographics equality makes absolutely no sense in my mind. Clearly women should be treated equally as men, just as skin color should not be a determining factor on your given rights. A poor man has every right to life as a rich man. If you HAVE to label me something, I'm an equalist.
With that established, in regards to the current state of how women are represented in games, being a black male I would have to say I find it typically absurd. I do not feel women are properly represented in video games. I also feel that minorities aren't properly represented in most (American made) games. (Japanese games too, but I'm not speaking about Japan at the moment) I actually think in a lot of media there is a terrible portrayal of all types of groups, but I don't feel it's anybodies fault generally, nor do I think it's actually an issue that can be fixed by addressing it with complaining "Well the creators just don't get it!"
I'm going to speak a lot about animation here, because I can think of specific examples and don't want to just pull things out of my ass. I'll also be talk about video games, because I like them (I can make them too!)
In most media I don't feel there is a proper representation of society as a whole. I don't think there is some malicious super group of white male oppressors trying to shove their superiority down my throat and make me hate me for who I am because they purposefully misrepresent me in a plan to somehow keep me perpetually oppressed. I realize through a culture shock I went through in high school, most misrepresentation of my race simply comes from ignorance. Most people are not so amazing that they can write perfect representations of any character from any culture accurately capturing and portraying the race on a broad and individual basis. Mostly because they have absolutely nothing to do with the culture. They do not get to experience, except through the same ill informed media they will contribute to, the depths and intricacies of the culture, so the picture that is painted for characters in this minority is often wrong.
Now, a minority does not necessitate one of a non dominant race geographically. It just means a group of people that can be broadly defined. One such way to define people is through the gift we were given in our pants. Some people get sticks, some got holes. Unfortunately, just as with culture, the difference between having the hole or the stick isn't simply the act of having the hole or the stick, but a bunch of other genetic and biological factors that make you different. I'm a man. I will never be able to offer "a woman's perspective." I can study with the scientific method the behavior of large populations of women and understand completely how women differ from men, but I still couldn't offer that emotional perspective required to portray a woman in a narrative as brilliantly as possible. Few people can, although we all try and can get close, but realistically we will never quite just get it.
Now this is an issue because if you look at the game industry you will see it is largely male dominated. Not only is it male dominated, but (In America) most of these are also white men of certain age demographics. (Source http://archives.igda.org/diversity/IGDA_DeveloperDemographics_Oct05.pdf) This makes women and other races a minority in the workforce, which means we will not be properly represented in the media. Ignoring the fact that the original point of this is the woman qualified to make statements about the state of the game industry when she doesn't really validate herself properly, to say there is no issues would just be ignoring statics. If you truly think all it takes to properly represent all demographics in the world are 24 year old white males, then you are probably actually a little bigoted, and should possibly get over yourself. That being said, nothing this woman says or her kickstarter will do will solve the problems she has with the game industry. It is not even constructive, and I really wish the money would go elsewhere.
The Boondocks is an American TV show created by Aaron McGruder. Another very involved man in the Show is LeSean Thomas, who co-directed the show and oversaw the character designs as well as assisted in the animation for the show. I would say both of these people are respected members of the Black community and were acknowledged for their work on The Boondocks. The Boondocks is largely a satire seen through the eyes of a character named Huey. Huey is an intelligent Black youth who looks up to civil rights leaders such as Malcolm X. Using Huey as a surrogate, the show explores many problems present in current day Black Culture and allows a critical look from a perspective offered by somebody who can accurately represent the culture. The Boondocks is possible as a show because it is created by the same demographic it tries to portray mostly. Because of this, I believe the show is a successful foray into a culture that isn't dominant in the industry that it stems from (the animation industry) yet still proves the point that another culture cannot accurately display something it isn't. (The Boondocks is a Satire on black culture, but also encompasses American culture in general. A lot of the portrayals of white in the Boondocks therefore are very stereotypical and mildly racist.)
LeSean Thomas has said in an interview that he has always liked animation, but he didn't quite like the fact he did not get to see "characters that look like him." This is something I can relate to. Superheroes have always been amazing to me as a child, but when you notice they are for the most part all Caucasian, it becomes hard to relate to the super hero culture as a whole, because "it's a white thing." LeSean Thomas solution was simple. Rather than wait for somebody else of another race to portray his race in media, he decided he was going to do it himself. And this is the main point of this entire blog post. Complaining that a bunch of white males don't understand you is a waste of time. We are all human. You do not completely understand them, so why should they completely understand you? We should all try to be understanding to one another, but we also need to realize complete understanding is simply impossible. That is why tolerance is a word. So, the idea of giving massive amounts of money to a webseries that's going to try to guilt people into making them think they are terrible (this is the air I got from the kickstarter) is a pointless waste of time. That being said, I don't think the issue is something that should be ignored or swept under the brush.
Imagine for example if that money, instead of going to a webseries about misrepresentation of females in games, went to a society for trying to get women interested in making games, or aiding them with getting into a male dominated profession. You could pay for multiple college tuition's with the money I feel has been wasted on the webseries. If Mrs. Sarkeesian is planning on founding such programs, or attempting to aid the advancement of women in entertainment through actual, tangible projects (not just telling dudes they are getting women wrong, but helping put women in positions where they can influence the design of the women more) then I analogize, and I was just not giving her enough credit.
If however things go as I suspect they will, I just hope everybody who contributed to this project believing they were "making a difference" takes a step back and realizes nothing is going to change until you actively change it, not just complain about it on youtube. read