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Tropes vs Women in Games

Tropes vs Women in Video Games: Damsel in Distress part 3


The dude abides
Aug 02
// Steven Hansen
In the third "Damsel in Distress" portion of Tropes vs Women in Video Games, Anita Sarkeesian looks at the "ironic sexism" that has accompanied retro sensibilities being in vogue and looks at the reversal of the "damsel" tro...
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Lightning Returns director ordered bigger, jiggling boobs


Sigh
Jul 29
// Jim Sterling
Lightning's either experienced a miracle or paid for a boob job in Lightning Returns, bumping up from a Japanese C cup to a D Cup. Her breasts will also jiggle now, depending on what she's wearing, because the director wanted...
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Nintendo PR actively promoting playable female characters


Pikmin 3 hailed as the start of many
Jul 25
// Jim Sterling
Nintendo is generally thought to exist in its own fancy little bubble, protected from the outside world and faintly out of touch with the rest of us. However, Nintendo of America's marketing department may be a bit more savvy...

Jimquisition: Gamer Guys

Jul 08 // Jim Sterling
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Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Jimquisition travels to another time and another place, examining a world taken over by gamer guys and their testosterone-addled inanity. Something must be done! Fortunately, your ol' pal Jim Sterling is here to take those insincere culture thieves down a peg, and put gaming in the hands of those to whom it belongs. Welcome to the Sarkybastardverse, which is definitely a real thing now.

Gamers urge Nintendo for a playable Zelda

Jul 03 // Jim Sterling
I can really see no reason why this shouldn't be a thing. Whatever your feelings on gender representation in games might be, I think we can all at least agree the kidnapped princess thing is more than a little played out. It'd be fantastic to see Zelda have far more agency in her own story, and if that means making her playable, that'll be all for the better.  People merrily flipped out during E3 when it was revealed Princess Peach would be playable for the first time in forever in Super Mario 3D World, while Zelda herself has proven no stranger to kicking ass in the Super Smash Bros. series. Meanwhile, enterprising coders have done the legwork and made Zelda playable on their own time, so it's not like people don't want it.  Obviously, Nintendo will do what Nintendo will do, because Nintendo is Nintendo and that's what it does. I would definitely be on board for a game actively starring the princess, though, and it's very clear I'm far from the only one who would.
Playable Zelda petition photo
Hell, her name's in the title!
Nintendo is being asked by fans to make Zelda, the eponymous princess of the Legend of Zelda series, a stronger and more influential character. Responding to Eiji Aonuma, who said he'd consider a playable Zelda if fans reques...

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Game magazine scrubs Ellie from The Last of Us artwork


The Creepy Cull continues
Jun 19
// Jim Sterling
I've talked at length about the Creepy Cull of female protagonists in the game industry, where women are shunted off promotional materials and deemed unworthy to act as playable characters. It seems the scythe is wielded not ...
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Microsoft clarifies Xbox One's Killer Instinct situation


Not scripted, says Microsoft
Jun 10
// Jim Sterling
[Update: Microsoft has issued a response to the kerfuffle surrounding the incident this morning, which reads as such: "The comments in question during the Killer Instinct demo were not scripted. The demo was meant to include...

Boy's club: Why don't more women play EVE Online?

Jun 03 // Joseph Leray
Despite only comprising a meager four percent of the user base, women aren’t entirely unrepresented in EVE Online. Ali Aras, for example, is the online name of a woman currently serving as vice-secretary of EVE’s eighth Council of Stellar Management, a player-elected committee that liaises between developers and players. Still, EVE Online’s gender ratio is overwhelmingly, if not surprisingly, dominated by men, even compared to other MMOs. In a paper for Beyond Barbie and Mortal Kombat: New Perspectives on Gender and Gaming, researcher Nick Yee presents the result of a multi-year survey of over 40,000 MMO players: roughly 15% of them are women. If EVE Online were trending with the broader landscape of MMOs, we should expect to see almost four times as many women than are currently subscribed. “I think we have to be realistic about what EVE Online is,” says Thor Gunnarsson, vice-president of business development at CCP. “Science fiction-themed worlds tend to attract men.” In a separate interview, EVE senior producer Andie Nordgren echoes Gunnarsson’s explanation, almost verbatim: “Part of it is due to the theme of the game. Science fiction is an extremely male-dominated domain,” she tells me. If EVE Online’s hard-nosed sci-fi trappings have been a stumbling block for women players, CCP is hoping that the supernatural horror of World of Darkness, an in-development MMO based on White Wolf’s Vampire: the Masquerade series, proves more alluring. World of Darkness centers on the interpersonal drama and large-scale politics of a group of vampire clans, set against a gritty, urban backdrop. “When White Wolf was really the rock star of the pen-and-paper games industry, what they did was they created a fiction setting that, back in the day, had an almost equal gender balance,” Gunnarsson explains. “That was unheard of in tabletop gaming, and we’re certainly hoping to achieve something similar with World of Darkness in the future.” “The genre lends itself towards having a female population,” senior producer Chris McDonough explains. “When we were making Vampire: the Masquerade, you’d go to conventions and events and there was a significant number of women in that audience.” “Will there be more women interested in this than in EVE? The answer is yes.” It’s not enough to chalk the dearth of women playing EVE Online to their perceived distaste for science fiction, though: the game’s accessibility, interface, complexity, and design are also at fault. “There’s bad complexity in EVE,” Nordgren tells me bluntly. “Only a certain type of person will ever work their way through it, and the majority of those people are guys.” One example of bad complexity she gives is that new players often don’t have access to the information they need to understand the game’s mechanics. “We have those kinds of accessibility problems that we’re working on,” she explains, “and I think if we can shift some of this bad complexity out and just keep some of the good, interesting, challenging complexity, then we should get more female players as a result of that.” However, “It’s not a goal for us as a development team to specifically increase the number of female players,” Nordgren says. Having a broader and more balanced fanbase would be a by product of good design, “more an indicator than something strive for.” McDonough and his team are taking a similar tack with World of Darkness. Referring to his work on Vampire: the Masquerade, he explains that his team "never made a product that catered or specifically targeted women; we made a product that we thought would appeal to all gamers.” “Women are gamers just like everybody else, and our role isn’t to specifically point a product at them, but instead to make a product that we think satisfies a lot of different player-types,” he continues. “And when women fall into that player-type, that’s fantastic, and we think there will be some in World of Darkness.”
EVE Online photo
Better design will attract more diverse players, says CCP
According to David Reid, CCP Games' chief marketing officer, 96 percent of the people subscribing to his company's flagship MMO EVE Online are male. That's crazy high.

Promoted Blog photo
Promoted Blog

The secret origin of Princess Peach


Promoted from our Community Blogs!
Jun 01
// Voltech
[Dtoid community blogger Voltech just blew my mind. --Mr Andy Dixon] I know that opinions may vary pretty wildly on the game, but in all honesty, I like PlayStation All-Stars. I like it a lot more than I thought I would, and ...
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Tropes vs Women in Video Games: Damsel in Distress part 2


The Call of Sarkeesian rings out once more
May 29
// Jim Sterling
Tropes vs Women in Video Games, the series that is single-handedly destroying all of gaming because a woman said a thing on the Internet once, has launched its second episode. That'll explain why all babies cried out in the ...
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Xbox One reveal has TWO WOMEN on a stage at once!


Sony humiliated in shock turn of events!
May 21
// Jim Sterling
When Sony had its PS4 reveal a while back, some people wondered why it had absolutely zero women on stage. Microsoft has today gained an early advantage in the console war, managing to fit not one, but TWO women in its Xbox O...

How eager nipples and a tight thong fought casual sexism

May 15 // Jim Sterling
Bro-sie the Riveter was created as a male counterpart to Ms. Underboob, and was hung in her place ... with emphasis on the hung.  Things went well on the morning of the switch. Anonymous was giddy with delight, co-workers discovered the prank (unleashed on April 1) and laughed. Everything was fine until Mark Long himself arrived, and saw his beloved boobs replaced with a magnificent man-package.  "We hear a loud: 'What the hell is this?!' And then all goes quiet. Ten minutes pass. We panic. "We are both suddenly and painfully aware that we have, in fact, just punked the CEO of our company. He is by all accounts an awesome dude. He is also a late-50s ex-army guy who happens to determine our employment futures in an at-will state. Meep." Fortunately, Long is as awesome as the employee hints, as he not only saw the funny side, he reflected on how his choice of decor may affect others.  "That was a brilliant prank," Long told his employee, "You called me on exactly the bullshit I need to be called on. I put up pictures of half-naked girls around the office all the time and I never think about it. I’m taking you and Sam to lunch. And after that, we’re going to hang both prints, side by side." It can be argued that Long kind of missed the point, since the original poster is still up. It's at least a compromise though, which is one step in a half-decent direction. You don't get too many of them these days, and it's always pleasant to see. It's also a nice lesson in how many people might come across as assholes but are just, well, kind of ignorant of a problem and, once they're aware, they can take steps to fix their part in it.  Not always though. Some of them really are just total assholes. You need to call them out on their shit to separate them, though, and this was certainly an amusing example of that being done. 
Sexy Hawken photo
Bro-sie the Riveter versus Ruby Underboob
Hawken publisher Meteor has, in its office, a piece of art featuring a woman with a bountiful underboob and very little in the way of clothing, hung in place by CEO Mark Long. The half-naked woman, named "Ruby Underboob"...

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Jimquisition happens every Monday!
A common argument in the ongoing debate over gender and videogames is that women and men both are equally objectified. Is that really true? As always, Emperor God King Jim Sterling puts His holy foot down and delivers wisdom true to the masses. He totally isn't smug about it, either!

Gearbox artist slams Dragon's Crown character design

May 01 // Jim Sterling
As one might expect, Hamm's comments have drawn considerable heat from Dragon's Crown fans, particularly on NeoGAF. Gearbox's own history of female design has been brought up multiple times in response to the criticism, with Borderlands' Mad Moxxi and Duke Nukem Forever's entire existence providing alleged examples of similar female objectification.  Images such as the one above have been used to refute Hamm's point, though to be fair, it's worth pointing out that Hamm is responsible only for Gearbox's environmental art, and her own designs of female characters are both tasteful and quite excellent. Still, gender issues are treacherous waters, and it's inevitable Gearbox's history would be part of the splashback.  That said, it's also been argued that Gearbox's designs as they stand can't be compared to Dragon's Crown's overtly exaggerated characters.  "Nothing in Borderlands posted so far is remotely in the same ballpark," said one NeoGAF poster.  Indeed, while Moxxi clearly has her breasts on show, she is at least sensibly proportioned and her costume actually fits the context of her character. She's not going out to battle dressed in that attire, she's supposed to be an entertainer and the owner of a bar with a deliberately titillating aesthetic. That's not to say she's designed inherently "better" than Tamikani's characters, but it's hard to compare the two in this particular discussion.  In any case, the Dragon's Crown debate rages on, even as those who claim to be tired of it continue to post in forum and comment threads every time it comes up. Indeed, this shows no signs of going away yet.  Still, this is probably the most advertising a Vanillaware game's ever gotten.
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The boob wars continue
The Dragon's Crown "thing" shows no sign of stopping, with vehement and sometimes venomous opinions flying this way and that. To bring you up to speed, Vanillaware's upcoming brawler features a big-boobed Sorceress, the desig...

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Jimquisition: Boob Wars and Dragon Crowns


Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Apr 29
// Jim Sterling
Dragon's Crown has become the latest game involved in a big argument. Big boobs, burly dwarves, and Kotaku were all involved. Gender issues in games are important. They are worth thinking about. They are, contrary to po...
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Nintendo Korea calls weather reporter a brainless bitch


This week's Twitter goof winner!
Apr 15
// Jim Sterling
Nintendo of Korea is in hot water after its Twitter account insulted TV weather reporter Eun Ji Park. A mystery representative of the company criticized Park's growing fame, suggesting her looks were respo...
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The Last of Us focus test had to be made to include women


Marketers didn't want the opinions of smelly girls
Apr 09
// Jim Sterling
Naughty Dog has revealed it had to force the hand of its focus testers in order to get them to acknowledge a female perspective. Originally, The Last of Us was exclusively using male gamers to gauge audience interest, until t...
Surveys!! HELL YEAH!!! photo
Surveys!! HELL YEAH!!!

Male game developers earn 25% more than females


Game Developer Magazine's survey shows
Apr 08
// Allistair Pinsof
Though we often discuss the insensitivities that females face in the game industry (see above image), a recent survey conducted by Game Developer Magazine presents a more internal conflict: on average, male game developers ea...
Female protagonists photo
Female protagonists

Jimquisition: The Creepy Cull of Female Protagonists


Jimquisition happens every Monday!
Mar 25
// Jim Sterling
The game industry doesn't want female characters. That is allegedly the message publishers have been sending to developers. As female characters get hidden from the front covers of games and projects with leading ladies are ...

The game industry doesn't want female heroes

Mar 19 // Jim Sterling
I've never really thought about the whole kissing thing, but he's right. Women are overtly sexualized in many videogames, but they're rarely allowed to be sexual. Sure, have your female avatar swing massive boobs around in bikini battle armor, but if she dares to show physical interest in somebody? Oh, the scandal! That, right there, is objectification at work. Having a female character exist for our saucy gratification, but not ever being allowed to reciprocate, initiate or otherwise become an active participant. Outside of games where players can create their own characters, I don't think I've actually seen a playable female protagonist kiss a guy in a game. The closest examples would be Indigo Prophecy and Heavy Rain, both by Quantic Dream. I'll give them credit there, though if I recall correctly, both those games' sex scenes had players in control of the male lead at the time, not the female one.  As Morris says, it's weird. More than that, it's kind of creepy to me that so few female leads, if any at all, are actually allowed to be in straight relationships, lest it incur the homophobic insecurity of the male audience. This is to say nothing of the base fear of letting a non-sexed-up woman be allowed a leading role in the first place.  I recall one game that was in development a few years ago. Faith and a .45. It was set to be a cooperative shooter starring a man and a woman -- lovers -- who would very much be in a "Bonnie & Clyde" style relationship. Aside from working together in combat, the game was going to have a really cool revival system -- if one player is downed, the other can kiss him or her to get them back up. I joked at the time about it messing with the minds of homophobes, but it was truly an inspired idea -- even outside of any potential statement it could make, it was just a clever new spin on the revival system that worked perfectly in the context of the characters.  Unfortunately, that game never saw the light of day, which is hardly surprising given the climate and the attitudes in the market.   We have some exceptions, of course. Tomb Raider is an obvious example of a successful game with a female lead, but she exists today more thanks to legacy, and one wonders if the more recent Tomb Raider would have gotten anywhere if it were a new IP -- something some fans claim it ought to have been. Back when Tomb Raider was a fresh idea, Lara Croft was a massive-breasted sex object. The Lara we have today likely wouldn't have existed without the Lara back then.  We recently saw BioShock Infinite's Elizabeth relegated to the back cover of the game case, for fear that the presence of a woman would turn consumers away. Naughty Dog also recalled a similar situation, where it had to fight to have a girl appear on the cover of The Last of Us. There's something eminently shuddersome about the message that sends, a message that suggests women have their uses, but are best kept locked away with the rest of the tools until they're required. It's the kind of situation that puts an itchy feeling under the skin.  There are some who argue sexism isn't a problem in the game industry, but I don't know how a rational person could see this kind of stuff and not admit, even grudgingly, that it exists in abundance. When publishers are trying to eradicate female protagonists or hiding the womenfolk away lest an audience be turned off, there's some ill sentiment at play. Whether the fault of the industry itself or the audience, there is a fault, and it's a downright unsettling one at that.  And if you'd be seriously upset by seeing a female lead kiss a guy in a game, you're emotionally broken.
No Female Heroes photo
"You can't have a female character in games"
Remember Me is currently in development under the watchful eye of Capcom, but the story of a woman who can "remix" peoples' memories had to do a lot of fighting to exist. According to creative director Jean-Max Morris, t...

Anita Sarkeesian response photo
Anita Sarkeesian response

Responding to Anita Sarkeesian's 'Damsels in Distress'


Promoted from our Community Blogs!
Mar 15
// Genki-JAM
[Dtoid community blogger Genki-JAM recently shared his video response to the first episode of Anita Sarkeesian's "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games" series. Share your response in the comments below! --Mr Andy Dixon] I've had ...

God of War: Bros Before Hos

Mar 11 // Jim Sterling
As far as the in-game content goes, I'm hard pressed to be too offended by Ascension, personally. I certainly don't begrudge anybody the right to be offended by it, but at the very least, I'd say the scenario as presented more or less fits with Kratos' character. He's a violent, and rather unpleasant protagonist, who has been sacrificing defenseless men and women since the first game, let alone invulnerable women who can fight back. His is a world of Greek Gods and mythology, a world already famous for treachery, amorality, and characters generally considered none too nice. It's also worth mentioning the Trophy itself is more of a reference to the aforementioned ally with whom Kratos speaks. The "Hos" are indeed a reference to the female villains, but the Trophy is not a direct reference to him beating them up. It was poorly timed, and an utterly insipid use of an equally insipid phrase, but it's important we correctly frame the context here.  This is not to say the imagery contained within the game isn't potentially distressing for some audience members, but then again, that's why games have warnings, and I think anybody jumping into the God of War series at this point has a full grasp of the content it displays. Again, this is not to say those with a problem should be shouted down or silenced, simply to say that this is what God of War is.  It's perfectly acceptable to have a "hero" we may disagree with, who may even be morally repugnant to us. I recently fell in love with the House of Cards trilogy -- the original UK show -- and found Francis Urquhart a thoroughly compelling protagonist. I find his morals dismaying, his ethics alarming and his politics utterly terrifying. He's a hard conservative with contempt for the poor, he's a murderer, a backstabber, and altogether dangerous to know. Yet, he's also charming, and deliberately takes the viewer into his confidence, breaking the fourth wall to turn us into his sympathizers whether we like it or not -- a fact he gleefully points out. It works with horrific effectiveness, causing us to constantly examine who we're rooting for and why we're so enthralled with a man we find so utterly despicable. When games attempt this, I can't help but be excited.  However, games are always hamstrung by the fact they are, of course, games. Francis Urquhart may force us along for the ride, but we are only on a ride -- belted in, strapped up, and passively following along. Is it impossible for gaming to give us an Urquhart? Not at all. It may be harder, but it's not impossible. In fact, it's been done several times over.  Anti-heroes with questionable morals aren't exactly new to videogames. Saints Row 2 puts players into the booties of a psychopathic manchild, a character we would have to view as a villain protagonist at best. His or her idea of retribution is shockingly disproportionate, and not once is it ever portrayed as a bad thing. Volition Games was able to get away with this through sheer audacity, ramping up its narrative to such utter extremes that we have to laugh along with its ridiculousness. We are disarmed by the silliness of it all, and it allows us to be willing accomplices in our avatar's endeavors without feeling too guilty.  Humor isn't the only method of successfully presenting a villainous protagonist, of course. For all its documented problems, Kane & Lynch: Dead Men was at least a fascinating exercise in allowing players into the lives of two thoroughly irredeemable human beings. Amoral at best, dangerously insane at worst, Kane and Lynch are excellent examples of playable characters whose actions, however complicit we are in them, remain nonetheless disagreeable. We're not supposed to like, or feel sorry, for these characters. We're aiding them, we want to see how their story ends, but the game frequently reminds us that they're scum, true lowlifes who essentially survive, but never get to live.  It's all about the presentation in the end, and this is where God of War: Ascension really fouled up. The problem with Trophies (and Achievements) is that they have increasingly become punchlines, pithily named pop-ups appearing at the end of any major chapter in a videogame. Playing through any narrative campaign, we expect to hear the familiar chime accompanied by a witty summary at the end of any major boss fight or cutscene. For the player increasingly steeped in Xbox 360 and PS3 gaming, a significant event in a story feels almost naked without it. This, however, is clearly presenting an issue in some scenarios. Without the "Bros Before Hos" crack, Ascension provides a shocking, potentially disturbing, sequence -- one that is in keeping with Kratos' questionable brand of heroism. With it, the whole thing is presented as a joke, which can then be taken as a mockery of violence against women. It is not, however, the first time a game's content has been undermined by Trophies.  Enslaved: Odyssey to the West (and be warned we've got spoilers coming) features a character by the name of Pigsy, who naturally inspires a slew of porcine puns in the game's Achievements/Trophies. Phrases like "Swine Flew" and "What a Pig" all pop up through the course of the game, hoping to inspire a cheap smile with a little light wordplay. This is relatively inoffensive stuff, until a late chapter that attempts to tug at our heartstrings, and fails through no fault of the writing itself. Essentially, Pigsy dies in an attempt to save the heroes from a group of enemy death machines, a moment played not for laughs, but for tears. Pigsy was something of a joke character up until that point, but comes through in a fairly archetypal display of self-sacrifice, one that's really not badly done. Until, of course, the Achievement "Smoky Bacon" pops up, reducing the entire scene to a joke. At that moment, any attempt to build an emotional response from the audience is lost, any sense of sadness immediately shattered. Pigsy's death, far from being a noble display of affection and respect for his allies, is now a gentle goof, complete with punchline.  Can you imagine your response to The Lion King if, when Simba discovers his father's body in the ravine, a subtitle displaying the message, "MuFAILsa" popped up? Or perhaps if, in Final Fantasy VII, that famous death scene was punctuated with the phrase, "Anyone fancy a kebab?" It would ruin the entire atmosphere, and bring you out of any feeling the content was trying to evoke from its audience.  This is the risk posed by Achievements and Trophies, though it needn't always be a detriment. Portal 2 used the system as part of a joke, in which its main antagonist announces "the part where he kills you," followed by a chapter note confirming this was indeed the part where he kills you, followed then by an Achievement popping up called -- you guessed it -- "The Part Where He Kills You." Perfectly timed, and a very clever way of using something unique to games to enhance the narrative experience. This was a joke only a game could make, and it needn't just be for comedy.  There's a prevailing attitude that Achievements and Trophies are meaningless -- pointless distractions that are best ignored. Indeed, you can even turn off notifications for them in most cases. However, some people like them, others find them largely acceptable, and altogether there's a clear point to be made in their impact on the way we approach and respond to games. Without that Trophy in Ascension, and its use of a pathetic and tacky sentiment, I dare say Sessler would not have been so damning in his appraisal of the game. Without that Achievement in Portal 2, a good joke would not quite have been hammered home. These systems are a part of gaming now, linked closely to the experience, and should be respected -- a savvy developer can exploit them to great storytelling advantage, while an ignorant one can unwittingly create a faux pas.  It's one extra element to consider when your game contains shocking or questionable content, even more so when your antagonist is a Kratos, a Lynch, or a Saints Row gang leader. Presentation is key, and if games want to keep evoking that masterfully malevolent Francis Urquhart -- which I hope they do -- they'd best seriously consider how all elements of a videogame, even the throwaway ones, can effect that presentation.
Bros Before Hos photo
On dubious morals and dubious presentation
In what may be considered a storm in a teacup, not quite gaining the same traction as other controversies, God of War: Ascension has caused a bit of a stir with a "misogynistic" Trophy, an award you get as part of the main ca...

Donkey Kong photo
Donkey Kong

Three-year-old wants to play Donkey Kong as Pauline


Dad makes it happen
Mar 09
// Jonathan Holmes
Tropes vs. Women in Videogames has finally hit the internet, and people have been more snarky about it than Juno MacGuff at a "learn to write like Joss Whedon" script-writing seminar. All that snark wont change the...

The Call of Sarkeesian

Mar 08 // Jim Sterling
My knowledge of the thing began only yesterday with the death of my computer. It had always served me well, but it appeared its time was at an end. I thought it merely a simple result of time, the mortality of the machine a reflection of the end we must all face. How I wish I had remained under that suspicion, and toiled thusly in ignorance. No ... it was ignorance that compelled me to press on. Ignorance that inspired me to seek truth. Ignorance that saw such terrible knowledge thrust upon me.  Unsatisfied with my initial belief, I decided instead to attempt to fix the computer. My machine is a hulking beast of monolithic proportions, tall and black, cast in cold black metal. I swung open its side panel like stone wrought doors pulled free of a mausoleum, and peered inside. What I saw was not the interior of any computer I knew, or even the one I had. I'd opened this thing countless times, looked within to tap on this or confirm that. On this day, however, I saw not the familiar boards and wires that greeted me in the past. It was ... empty. Completely empty.  All except one thing.  The figure was between seven and eight inches in height, and of exquisitely artistic workmanship. It represented a monster of vaguely anthropoid outline, but with a woman-like head whose face looked like a woman, a feminine, womanly-looking body, women's hands and feet, and some frightening objects I had never seen before on its chest. This thing, which seemed instinct with a fearsome and unnatural maternity, squatted evilly on a rectangular block or pedestal covered in what looked to be PS3 and Xbox 360 logos. The figure was horribly life-like, so alien in structure yet vaguely, unnervingly familiar. It was carved from some unknown material, greens and whites, with an unnatural coldness. Carved on its underside were two words. "Sarkeesian fhtagn."  Upon reading these words, my computer switched itself back on, seemingly unpowered, yet working as if it never had broken. If only that had been the end of it. I knew not then what I know now, of the terrible thing I had set into motion, but though my activities were performed in naivety, I still feel I must be punished for what I had done.  It is my fault. It is all my fault.  I did not know why I was chosen, why it was I who had to speak the black words and awaken the ... the abomination. All that matters now is that I did.  Though unsettled, I thought to use the computer anyway, at least to research the origins of this unknown ornament of which I had possession. However, upon accessing the Internet, I was greeted only with one word -- one terrible, awful word, that filled me with a dread so dark and so dismal, I fear to feel it again. Sarkeesian. Sarkeesian Sarkeesian Sarkeesian. As I read this word over and over, yet stranger things began to happen. The copy of Naruto Powerful Shippuden that was sitting on my desk began to emit a strange hissing noise, consistent with that of a kettle brought freshly to boil. It then began to crack, to twist, to snap violently on the desk as if crushed in the hand of some invisible being of considerable size. It contorted this way and that, writhing on the desk as if like a serpent in its death throes. It took less than a minute before it ground itself into dust.  "In her house at Y'outube dead Sarkeesian waits scamming." The message stood bold on my computer screen, typed not by me. Typed not by anyone. Yet there it was, clear as day and bold as brass. I heard more squealing hisses from the next room, but I remained fixed in my place, cold sweat running in rivulets from my brow and neck. I was possessed by a fear, an all consuming terror. A URL made itself known. A link I fear to share, lest I inflict this madness upon anybody else. So foolish I was, to not turn back now while I still had innocence left to claim. I accessed the URL anyway. I was taken to a website. This "Y'outube" of which the mysterious phrase spoke. There was a video there, Tropes vs. Women in Videogames. What blasphemy! Women? In Videogames? I almost gagged at the mere sight of such black and foul words tossed casually in the face of mankind and of God. God ... I almost laugh at the mention of His name now.  Why did I watch it?  There exist no words in the English language adequate enough to describe what I saw, though I did not watch the thing in its entirety. To be exposed for the mere seconds I was had been more than enough, and I fear any more would reduce me to a gibbering wreckage of remains only human in appearance. A voice so horrifically unassuming. Arguments so disturbingly uncontroversial. This was a product of something cosmically beyond our pitiful grasp. We are as insects, facing the infinite. Please let me forget.  I had barely noticed the hissing around me grow to deafening proportions, but as I closed my browser with shaking hands, tears clouding my vision, the noise suddenly stopped. I weakly lifted myself from my seat, stumbled into my drawing room with all the grace of a village drunk, and witnessed an awful sight. All my videogames were gone. All my videogame consoles were missing. In their place, only dust. Only desiccated dirt. I had watched a video of a woman on the Internet ... and now all my videogames were gone. Forever.  Heed this warning before it is too late for you. Do not seek the knowledge I so stupidly pursued. Do not hunt down that which will prey upon you. Do not watch a video of a woman on the Internet, because all of your videogames will be gone forever. That's definitely how it works.  What has risen may sink, and what has sunk may rise. Loathsomeness waits and dreams in the deep, and political correctness spreads over the tottering cities of men. A time will come -- but I must not and cannot think! Let me pray that, if I do not survive this blog post, my executors may put caution before audacity and see that Tropes vs. Women in Videogames meets no other eye.  Because videogames.
Call of Sarkeesian photo
Stell'bsna n'gha
I have of late been subject to some strange occurrences. Some may even say ... frightening ... circumstances. Indeed, the things I have seen make me so very grateful for the inability of the human mind to truly understan...

Women in Gaming photo
Damsel in Distress: Part 1
Well, here's the moment you've all been waiting for: Anita Sarkeesian's first Tropes vs. Women in Video Games has been released, and I'm pleased to say, it's a much better effort than the factually inaccurate Bayonetta&...

Social games photo
Social games

Social game with a conscience Half the Sky launches today


Trying to smack injustice in the face
Mar 04
// Daniel Starkey
Within the past year or so, there's been a new crop of social games that, one might say, have a conscience. Their goal isn't so much taking your money as it is encouraging you to be an organ donor or convincing you to give mo...
Tropes vs. Women photo
Anita Sarkeesian's series starts in March
Last year, Anita Sarkeesian of the Feminist Frequency blog started a Kickstarter for a video series about the various problematic patterns in the depiction of women in videogames. She achieved her goal, and then some, le...

Etrian Odyssey IV photo
Etrian Odyssey IV

Etrian Odyssey IV will get you stiff


"Long and hard" indeed
Feb 27
// Tony Ponce
Dale North's review is taking forever because he keeps getting distracted by sh*t like this. [Swagtoise's Tumblr via Tiny Cartridge]
 photo

EA + Tabloid = Half-naked woman in Crysis 3 bodypaint


Sleaze meets sleaze to have a sleazy little baby
Feb 20
// Jim Sterling
The Sun loves to talk about how dangerous those violent videogames are, and frequently runs stories vilifying interactive entertainment for inspiring crime and teaching the youth of Britain all sorts of terrible things. Still...
 photo

Objectify A Male Tech Writer Day [Update]


Salivate over grade-A man-meat on February 1st
Jan 28
// Jim Sterling
[Update: Leigh Alexander has decided to call off the event, following an examination of potential risks. It's been proposed that the event alienates those who do not neatly fit into the straight male and straight female dynam...

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