Spoiler warnings for: Braid, Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess Star Fox Adventures on Dinosaur planet, Mario Adevnture 2, Star Fox Assault , Sonic CD, Mario Adventures 2 on Gameboy and Prince of Persia the Sands of Time
Strong Language warning for those who may find it offensive
The bulk of this was written while I was under the influence of alcohol I have tried to revise it to make it easier to read and follow.
This is a multipart blog in an attempt to stop posting 5,000 word novellas here and avoid daunting walls of text, as such if I havenít addressed it in this blog I may be addressing it in the next part. On Tropes vs Women in video games episode 1 there is still one more blog to go after this one
As this is my response to Tropes vs Women in Video games Damselís in Distress part 1, its advisable to view that first (if youíre like me strong alcohol may be required) I will be addressing points raised in this but having watched the video is rather essential to understanding the points to save me writing the full point out again which as the full part one analysis is about 6 pages already on word I want to try and address the points. †
I should also note:†Iím entirely open to seeing every concern I have destroyed by part three because I am now looking at an incomplete series and aware that to direct criticism before the finish might mean said criticism is entirely incorrect on my part. I have had fears that this series would take a certain light and shine it on gaming and this wouldnít be the purely gender equal but aimed at a specific group to appeal just to beliefs they hold. To truly challenge perceptions you often have to tread on things audiences wonít like or appreciate sometimes .††[/font][/size][/color]
Why a Damsel beats a treasure chest? Not long after the release of Fat Princess on PSN there were a few sites and feminist organisations claiming it was proof of ingrained sexism in gaming and that rather than a Princess it should have been soldiers throwing gold coins into a treasure chest. When one of the female leads came out and said there was no malice, that she was responsible mostly for the concept, it was explained pretty much that having a princess seemed the more fun idea than a simple loot chest. So here is the reason the Damsel trope is used more than rescuing treasure.
Firstly itís important to gain an insight into the human condition and understand that in society certain things are perceived positively and negatively. The two relevant here are Avarice which is seen as a negative thing in society and you can see this presently being played out, with the objection to companies potentially putting profits ahead of consumers. Greed to the extreme is considered bad. So now Love, the Beatles once sang †All You Need is Love, John Lennon sang Imagine which is about how a perfect world of peace and harmony and contains the lines "Imagine No Posessions. I wonder if you can. No need for greed or hunger. A Brotherhood of Man. Imagine All the people sharing all the world" . So in society thereís a clear message of love over property and possessions.
On to address why Damsel in distress is used, itís the human connection. Many people complained that Heavy Rain wasnít engaging for them, they are not parents so they donít get the horror of a missing child and didnít connect well with the characters, even some Parents said they didnít feel a connection. So whatís a common thing in this world that most people can relate to ? Well the idea of love, or at least caring for another human being. Would the connection and compulsion to carry on playing be as strong if you were rescuing a chest of jewels from the villain ? I doubt it. You want to get through to show some grand love conquers all thing and it doesnít need to be a Damsel in distress it can simply be another character. It does help a bit to be none too subtle in telling the audience this is said the protaganistís one true love in some form though to help with engaging the audience. Why does it have to be someone with a connection to the hero ? Well it helps with a connection to the player on a human level. If you do lose yourself in the game youíre not rescuing some sprites youíre saving a living breathing person. Youíre fighting for love.
The King Kong Meme
To address the King Kong Meme I will state that to show it as a problem is to neglect part of the subtext of King Kong in that ďit is beauty not man that slays the foul beastĒ. The King Kong idea in itself is a twisting of the Damsel in distress trope as in reality Man does not save her and itís the beasts own pursuit of a Damsel that leads to his own downfall.
This is further explored in the ending of Braid. In Braid the whole game is spent trying to get to a princess who to you it seems is being trapped by a knight, you reach the final level and upon reaching the end the game reverses and you see while from your perspective you were trying to save her, from another perspective she is running from the monster that is you trying to reach the safety of the knight. Other games like Monsters (Probably) Stole My Princess also play on this idea of you being the villain of the piece in your pursuit of the Princess. These games actually push the idea that you should be very careful of infatuation blinding you to the reality that youíre not fighting for love but your own selfish ends under the belief of love.
Now onto the Subject, Object point raised. To an extent I was almost nodding and agreeing until the context of the games was accidentally shown. In most a pre-existing couple has one of the people taken, true itís most often the girlfriend / wife. Now hereís the big kicker If we take the relationship as being a very loving one then if something did happen wouldnít you do everything you could to get the other person back ? Male or Female if youíve ever had a significant other wouldnít you do everything in your power to reunite with them ? One developer even made a game with the aim of trying to do that for real, a game I tore apart but he still did it. Whatís being played on with the trope is not Women = Object / prize but as horrible and tacky as it sounds, Love conquers all............... Ok that made me throw up a little to write. Not just because Iíve been drinking the whole time while writing this and watching the video but because I generally hate this sappy nonsense pushed forward that weíll all find someone and live happily ever after. To say its lazy writing is kind of acceptable as honestly anyone who write Love Conquers all and their hearts shoot out a beam that repels the darkness or any such thing, in my belief should be forced to watch 6 hours of nothing but videos of couples breaking up just as punishment.†
Suggesting the quest is however unworthy or whatever is slowly turning you into a rather bitter cynical individual such as myself and is pretty much suggesting you should always give up at the first hurdle if something bad does occur.
Part 3 is set to tackle
-The Damsel Ball
-Male Power Fantasies†
-My Personal Objection to part one of the series
It will hopefully be out later this week.
Authors note: the alternative header imagine that I decided against using in the end has also been placed in the gallery for this article because heck I made it and I was and still am rather unsure which really would have been best