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Saturday, June 1, 2013

TROPES VS. WOMEN IN GAMES REVIEW: Lets agree to disagree...about the degree with which I agree with you.

Pictured: Plastic cases. Brass balls.

 Major Borderlands Spoilers:

Its sad that a video series whose entire point is to spark discussion...cannot be discussed in their own comment sections. Normally I'm against censoring comments, but not in this case. The things I've read about women and homosexuals viewed through the lens of the gaming community have made my blood boil. Things that shouldn't  be read and certainly shouldn't be typed. Tropes vs. women in games had an uphill battle from the start and it is a fight that needs many more soldiers. To stare that kind of faceless, irrational, hatred down is something I'm certainly not capable of. So I applaud Anita Sarkeesian for sticking to her guns and not backing down. She was receiving death threats and no one should be shamed for not taking that kind of sh*t.

Whether or not she made too much money and is skirting her budget to buy gucci shoes is irrelevant. She's delivered the product she promised and she could have bought a damn island for all she's accountable for. The amount of scrutiny she's been under is hilarious in a number of ways, I mean, any double standard argument she could make has already been professionally gift wrapped by her critics. If people really wanted her opinions to go unnoticed they shouldn't have said anything at all...her kickstarter  probably wouldn't have been funded either. But she has her finger on a sore spot and the vocal minority has spoken. Politically and emotionally, I couldn't agree more with what she's done here. But speaking as a film critic and a gamer, TVWG is pretty disappointing.

Hmm, gender switching fo- yep. Rule 34'ed myself.
What should have been a thought provoking analysis and discussion of harmful industry trends winds up being a repetitive, choir preaching, lecture. I can't argue with the vast  majority of her talking points, but just because I agree with her opinions does not mean I approve of her methods...or the dry monotone script. This is not something designed to change a gamer's mind about the dark side of their hobby. This is not for us, this is for those on the outside looking in, those who want their worst fears validated. And the worst part about it all, for me personally, is that about 80% of the time she's absolutely right. The kind of storytelling that has passed as inoffensive in this industry is disgusting. The gender switching star fox anecdote she starts her first video off with made me ill. But as the evidence mounts and mounts and mounts some more, nothing cohesive is ever made of any of it. She just moves on to another similar trope. It feels like most of the 25 minutes of each video is spent killing time.

Her second video, once it moves into "the girlfriend in the refrigerator" trope, starts breaking more interesting ground. Not just in sexist storytelling, but sexist video game storytelling specifically. The "killing the love interest to save her" trick was not only much more overdone than I thought, but also more disturbing than I'd ever bothered to realize. Yet this is also the point where she starts citing some pretty ridiculous sources. Duke Nukem Forever?  Really? If you were criticizing sexist tropes of romantic comedies, you'd cite Sleepless in Seattle, not...Overnight Delivery.

"But...I don't want to spend the next 12 years crawling my way back  into movies!"
Many of her sources are forgotten embarrassments rather than influential projects. Though I will admit, those cut scenes are all unbearable outside of the thrall of game play. And I am personally embarrassed for not being more vocal about the inexcusable crap Kratos has gotten away with. But her citation of Angel in Borderlands 2 ruffled my feathers quite a bit, and it does make me question how close attention she paid to her fact finding.  For one, her role as a damsel was a plot twist almost two whole games in the making.

She may have looked like a beautiful woman. But in all except her last scene, she was believed to be an artificial intelligence rebelling against the abusive corporate entity (that winds up being her dad). But even if she was dolled up as a damsel in a tower; she spends the majority of both games giving you guidance, opening doors, and generally saving the player character's bacon. The player does not put her out of her misery, Angel simply facilitates her own murder. I'm sorry, but BL2 was a well written and self aware gem. To see Sarkeesian bulldoze over characters like Tina, Ellie, and Gaige like that does not sit well with me. Though you could make the argument for Lilith as a damsel toward the end.
"This clan war is gonna kick at least seven different flavors of ass" -Ellie
So there. I did not enjoy my time with WVTG, It just wound up being too one sided for my liking. But what about the obvious question of my bias? The answer is yes, I'm a man, I'm bias. It would take a more balanced argument to curb said bias and that did not happen. Just because a documentary isn't wrong, doesn't make it fair or compelling. So I now look forward to GTFO with baited breath. Because its about damn time someone spoke up about that as well.

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