Gamergate

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Re: Gamergate

Postby Xeio » Thu Jan 29, 2015 5:43 pm UTC

What's funny about that wikimedia post:
Although the Arbitration Committee may recommend that some editors be prevented from further contribution to this particular topic, they have not banned anyone from Wikipedia.
Except they did ban Ryulong. Awkward.

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Re: Gamergate

Postby KrytenKoro » Thu Jan 29, 2015 6:04 pm UTC

Derek wrote:tl;dr, no one can agree on what should be on the Gamergate article.

Not accurate in the least, because that's not what ArbCom does. ArbCom judges people, not articles, and the bernstein piece is ragging on them for choosing to censure the "feminist" editors who were being harassed, to a degree Bernstein feels was unjustified.

(IMO, Ryulong should have gotten the 1RR thing and maaaaybe a topic-ban, because he was starting to close his mind, but the banning is nonsensical in context.)

I don't know what the Gamergate article is like right now, but I would not recommend using it as a source at this time on the principle that it's currently in the middle of an ongoing edit war and not likely to be impartial or even self-consistent. This it a topic that you'll just have to research yourself.

Also not true. The Gamergate article is under heavy protection, and no edit warring is occuring or even can occur with the locks currently in place. Most of the argument on the talk page, and most of the recent edits, have in fact been aimed at watering down the language on the protected version of the page, like changing Gjoni's post from being described as "a rambling blogpost" (which nearly every news journal called it) to "an essay".

As far as your suggestion goes, if one is going to "research themselves", I would strongly advise one stay away from any source that isn't subject to stringent factchecking -- hell, one of the latest controversies is over people not realizing that there can exist more than one person with the same name, or even that people don't always use their real name, and so attacking unrelated parties for allegations they've launched against a second person, based on a third person using the alias in jest while using extremely black humor.
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Re: Gamergate

Postby KrytenKoro » Wed Feb 04, 2015 8:55 pm UTC

Something i was wondering about recently: whence the claim that anita has failed to deliver on her kickstarter? The original kickstarter asked for funds for five 15 min videos, and while she increased the scope in light of the additional funds, as far as i can tell she's released six thirty minute videos (with reportedly higher quality processing than she originally planned).
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Re: Gamergate

Postby PeteP » Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:04 pm UTC

There were some stretch goals with more videos.

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Re: Gamergate

Postby KrytenKoro » Wed Feb 04, 2015 9:45 pm UTC

PeteP wrote:There were some stretch goals with more videos.

Right, but those would by necessity stretch the schedule, right?
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Re: Gamergate

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Feb 05, 2015 3:42 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:
PeteP wrote:There were some stretch goals with more videos.

Right, but those would by necessity stretch the schedule, right?


This isn't an inherent thing in Kickstarter. The principle is whatever you promise, you deliver by whatever date you set out. The idea behind stretch goals is that more money allows you to do more.

But in practice, yes, sometimes people over-promise, and are simply unprepared for success.

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Re: Gamergate

Postby KrytenKoro » Thu Feb 05, 2015 7:12 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:
PeteP wrote:There were some stretch goals with more videos.

Right, but those would by necessity stretch the schedule, right?


This isn't an inherent thing in Kickstarter. The principle is whatever you promise, you deliver by whatever date you set out. The idea behind stretch goals is that more money allows you to do more.

But in practice, yes, sometimes people over-promise, and are simply unprepared for success.

I totally get that (and I agree that she was almost certainly not prepared and experienced to complete the task ahead of with vastly increased scope in the same amount of time), but like, as a principle of physics, people do realize that it would take more time to create and edit more videos starring the same actor, whether those videos are fully-funded or not? Like, do people realize there is a certain point where throwing more money at it does not, in fact, change the rate of time from 1 second per second?
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Re: Gamergate

Postby Chen » Thu Feb 05, 2015 8:18 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:I totally get that (and I agree that she was almost certainly not prepared and experienced to complete the task ahead of with vastly increased scope in the same amount of time), but like, as a principle of physics, people do realize that it would take more time to create and edit more videos starring the same actor, whether those videos are fully-funded or not? Like, do people realize there is a certain point where throwing more money at it does not, in fact, change the rate of time from 1 second per second?


Well with more money people could have been hired to do more of the research aspects. Delegation and whatnot. I have to imagine the editing and research is what was taking up the vast majority of the time in making those videos, as opposed to the actual filming. If no additional time was mentioned on the Kickstarter, the assumption is all the goals will be met by the promised date. The vast majority of game kickstarters I've seen that have stretch goals with post-release content, do tend to add a "after release new scenarios will be released" or "new DLC will be added after release if we meet X stretch goal".

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Re: Gamergate

Postby Tyndmyr » Thu Feb 05, 2015 8:42 pm UTC

KrytenKoro wrote:
Tyndmyr wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:
PeteP wrote:There were some stretch goals with more videos.

Right, but those would by necessity stretch the schedule, right?


This isn't an inherent thing in Kickstarter. The principle is whatever you promise, you deliver by whatever date you set out. The idea behind stretch goals is that more money allows you to do more.

But in practice, yes, sometimes people over-promise, and are simply unprepared for success.

I totally get that (and I agree that she was almost certainly not prepared and experienced to complete the task ahead of with vastly increased scope in the same amount of time), but like, as a principle of physics, people do realize that it would take more time to create and edit more videos starring the same actor, whether those videos are fully-funded or not? Like, do people realize there is a certain point where throwing more money at it does not, in fact, change the rate of time from 1 second per second?


There are, in practice, diminishing returns on how much throwing more money at ANYTHING will speed it up. However, at the level of "make several youtube videos", I think it is reasonable to believe that money will be significantly helpful in getting it done faster(and probably better). Physics is not likely to be a significant limiting factor in the production of such videos.

But yeah, you're responsible for delivering by the date you state. If you promise more and don't change the dates, that is on you. And yes, a number of kickstarters have gotten in to trouble in this manner.

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Re: Gamergate

Postby PeteP » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:24 pm UTC

Tyndmyr wrote:
KrytenKoro wrote:
PeteP wrote:There were some stretch goals with more videos.

Right, but those would by necessity stretch the schedule, right?


This isn't an inherent thing in Kickstarter. The principle is whatever you promise, you deliver by whatever date you set out. The idea behind stretch goals is that more money allows you to do more.

But in practice, yes, sometimes people over-promise, and are simply unprepared for success.

The bolded isn't all that common http://money.cnn.com/2012/12/18/technology/innovation/kickstarter-ship-delay/ And I would consider it as more of a goal. Kickstarter is not preordering things, dates by the very nature of kickstarter are just guesses or goals "That's not how Kickstarter works, Kickstarter co-founder Yancey Strickler responds. Backers are signing up to participate in the development process, including all of its obstacles and setbacks. "
Though you should try to give good estimates.

About this concrete case, well I will start to care when her backers are the ones complaining, because I doubt the motives of the group which does the complaining about her delivery times or her money use.

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Re: Gamergate

Postby mimheijn » Sun Mar 08, 2015 10:20 am UTC

I've been a xkcd lurker for a couple of years now.

I saw some interesting uninformed posts here, like that she works for less than minimum wage. I find that interesting for someone who charges $5.000 per speaking engagement and is planning to spend $100.000 in administration for the next year.

I can source this too, if anyone's interested.

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Re: Gamergate

Postby Sizik » Wed Mar 11, 2015 2:30 am UTC

mimheijn wrote:I've been a xkcd lurker for a couple of years now.

I saw some interesting uninformed posts here, like that she works for less than minimum wage. I find that interesting for someone who charges $5.000 per speaking engagement and is planning to spend $100.000 in administration for the next year.

I can source this too, if anyone's interested.


I'd imagine the money would be going to/coming from Feminist Frequency, rather than into/out of her own pocket.
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Re: Gamergate

Postby EMTP » Wed Mar 11, 2015 3:10 am UTC

Chen wrote:Well with more money people could have been hired to do more of the research aspects. Delegation and whatnot. I have to imagine the editing and research is what was taking up the vast majority of the time in making those videos, as opposed to the actual filming.


You also have to write the scripts and shoot the videos, both of which are quite a bit more difficult than they might appear.

I thought the tropes v women series was pretty outstanding. It was pretty gentle and measured, which surprised me given the venom it inspired.
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Re: Gamergate

Postby leady » Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:27 am UTC

Well you have low standards then :)

Don't get me wrong, they are well produced and watchable and as a description of over used cheap tropes to drive emotional reactions in consumers is an ok analysis. But the tranisition from what is (e.g. the murder of a protagonists girlfriend as a cheap motivator etc) to the hypothesis that this is somehow a society shaping wrong and somehow one that is more critical now in video games is neither logically sound nor empirically so

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Re: Gamergate

Postby PeteP » Wed Mar 11, 2015 10:40 am UTC

Oh this topic lives. Anita talking about the situation, nice beginning:'What I Couldn't Say'
The video was first up with enabled comment section which went as well as you would expect.

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Re: Gamergate

Postby KrytenKoro » Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:01 am UTC

mimheijn wrote:I've been a xkcd lurker for a couple of years now.

I saw some interesting uninformed posts here, like that she works for less than minimum wage. I find that interesting for someone who charges $5.000 per speaking engagement and is planning to spend $100.000 in administration for the next year.

I can source this too, if anyone's interested.

I would be extremely interested in you sourcing that she, herself, makes a significant amount of wages from the kickstarter project, speaking engagements be damned.

Because I don't believe anyone said that across the board she makes minimum wage, just that the kickstarter isn't buying her gold-plated skulls like some people were suggesting.

Or in other words -- be more honest and don't try to move the goalposts. Or be less blatant.

"interesting uninformed" lol.

Even better: "I can source this too" -- how about provide the sources in the first place if you're choosing to cast aspersions against someone, huh? Pony the fuck up instead of trying to reel us in.
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Re: Gamergate

Postby DaBigCheez » Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:03 pm UTC

Representative Katherine Clark calls on the FBI to prioritize threats against women, mentioning Gamergate specifically in followup comments (though not in the proposed new language she wants added to the appropriations for the FBI).
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Re: Gamergate

Postby EMTP » Wed Mar 11, 2015 8:52 pm UTC

leady wrote:Well you have low standards then :)


Nope, that's a thing called "objectivity."

Don't get me wrong, they are well produced and watchable and as a description of over used cheap tropes to drive emotional reactions in consumers is an ok analysis. But the tranisition from what is (e.g. the murder of a protagonists girlfriend as a cheap motivator etc) to the hypothesis that this is somehow a society shaping wrong and somehow one that is more critical now in video games is neither logically sound nor empirically so


So the straw man you have created has made a poor argument? How interesting!

If culture as a whole matters to society, which most grown-ups believe it does, than individual instances of that culture also matter to society. If you can find an instance of Anita Sarkeesian saying video games are crucial but books, movies, and other media are irrelevant, then your straw man might have some stuffing in his legs. In fact, though, she says nothing of the kind, and has numerous videos, made over the course of years, about books (such as "The Hunger Games,") movies, and other cultural products, like Lego.

Sarkeesian is doing some pretty basic analysis of video games using tools and vocabulary developed by feminist scholars over decades. Given how firmly in the feminist mainstream she is, I thought she did an exceptional job of encouraging a fresh look at these tropes.
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Re: Gamergate

Postby leady » Wed Mar 11, 2015 9:19 pm UTC

I stand by my simplification its reasonably fair (and yes they do go into the players choices in games being an issue and that therefore games are a unique artform - more critical means exactly that), probably not entirely so, but not a gross misrepresentation. But I can't be arsed to argue - all I'll say is that if ever most of the tropes in that series lost their emotional impact I would fear for humanity.

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Re: Gamergate

Postby Derek » Wed Mar 11, 2015 9:50 pm UTC

EMTP wrote:So the straw man you have created has made a poor argument? How interesting!

If culture as a whole matters to society, which most grown-ups believe it does, than individual instances of that culture also matter to society. If you can find an instance of Anita Sarkeesian saying video games are crucial but books, movies, and other media are irrelevant, then your straw man might have some stuffing in his legs. In fact, though, she says nothing of the kind, and has numerous videos, made over the course of years, about books (such as "The Hunger Games,") movies, and other cultural products, like Lego.

I don't believe his question was "How are video games worse?", it was "How do video games employing these tropes actually harm society?"

It's one thing to say that you don't like a video game, or to say that it's boring or overuses cliches. It's a much greater leap to conclude that these games are harmful. This is the kind of leap that gave us the Hays Code and the Comics Code. It's the kind of leap that still makes it unnecessarily difficult for adults to buy media aimed at adults to this day. This leap is never established in her videos. And yes, this is a claim that she makes.

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Re: Gamergate

Postby PAstrychef » Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:37 pm UTC

The harm that you are refusing to see is the very limited depictions of female people in the games discussed, and the ways in which violence towards those characters is endemic, usually unecessary to the storyline and sexualized.
The complaint being made is that a pretty big part of our society thinks these depictions are ok as part of entertainment. The argument is that these instances are examples of how our society as a whole views women, and that that view is pretty bad.
Last week a video of a woman singing about n*****rs hit the interwebs. Would you think everything was ok in our society if the response had been " ha ha! That's really entertaining! Calling people racist slurs is ok if it's entertaining!" In the same light, games where in order to get the most possible points you have to murder the prostitute are showing ideas still active in parts of our society that need fixing.
Do the games harm society? Rather, they show how a harmful society is exaggerated in the limited game-world. The continued acceptance of the depictions of women seen in the games discussed really will end up limiting how women get viewed in real life. Because it's just like advertising-we all assume we aren't affected by it, but it creeps into your world view anyway.
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Re: Gamergate

Postby EMTP » Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:46 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:The harm that you are refusing to see is the very limited depictions of female people in the games discussed, and the ways in which violence towards those characters is endemic, usually unecessary to the storyline and sexualized.
The complaint being made is that a pretty big part of our society thinks these depictions are ok as part of entertainment. The argument is that these instances are examples of how our society as a whole views women, and that that view is pretty bad.


Agree. If you think that culture matters at all, then the way women are depicted in said culture matters. At no point does Sarkeesian assert that these games are the foundational texts of sexism or even that sexism is the worst or most pressing problem in the world. She at no point calls on anything to be banned or restricted, and repeatedly reminds us that she plays these games herself. Mostly, all she is asking of the average player is that they notice these tropes. That doesn't seem like a heavy burden to bear. She would like designers to do a better job of representing women in their work, which is also something she says about screenwriters, authors, and toy manufacturers.
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Re: Gamergate

Postby KnightExemplar » Wed Mar 11, 2015 11:56 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:The harm that you are refusing to see is the very limited depictions of female people in the games discussed, and the ways in which violence towards those characters is endemic, usually unecessary to the storyline and sexualized.


Warning: Catching Fire / Hunger games spoilers.

Spoiler:
Question then, what about "Hunger Games" Peeta Mellark plays the role of "Damsel in Distress" throughout Catching Fire, and is basically the sole motivation for Katniss Everdeen.


The only real difference in "The Hunger Games", is that the gender roles of the trope were flipped on its head. Regardless, the "Damsel in Distress" trope is solid entertainment. Perhaps you can argue that video games should include more "male damsels" for equality, but to argue against the "damsel in distress" trope in general is kinda ignorant IMO.

There is also say, Final Fantasy 13, where the Damsel remains female (Serah Farron), but the "hero" was Lightning (female). Well, arguably Fang was actually the true hero of the story (also Female). "Snow" (male, fiance of Serah) arguably plays the Damsel in distress hero card a lot, but it really was the actions of Lightning / Vanille / Fang who saves Serah. The other "x in Distress" trope in the game was Sazh Katzroy (token black guy, arguably a harmful trope we should be talking about), with his son's capture.

Kinda funny, because Final Fantasy 15 is the first final fantasy since like... #3 (the original #3 nonetheless) without a playable female character. First female Cid?? Woop woop for female representation I guess... but Final Fantasy generally provides strong female characters (if a bit sexualized. Rydia, Tifa, Lightning, Fang, Yuna, etc. etc.). So I think people can be critical towards FF15 if they wanted to, because the lack of a playable female character in this otherwise long-running series filled with women is surprising actually.
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Re: Gamergate

Postby EMTP » Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:16 am UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:Regardless, the "Damsel in Distress" trope is solid entertainment. Perhaps you can argue that video games should include more "male damsels" for equality, but to argue against the "damsel in distress" trope in general is kinda ignorant IMO.


So let me understand what you're asserting here: Nothing which is "solid entertainment" can ever be "argued against." If it is entertaining, then it is above criticism. Only boring things can be sexist/racist/jingoistic/religiously intolerant. If I had fun, then nothing can be wrong with it.

Some might call that attitude a bit . . . ignorant.
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Re: Gamergate

Postby krogoth » Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:39 am UTC

Shouldn't it be perfectly fine in some contexts, being the damsel doesn't automatically mean being weak, Borderlands 2 damsel is (spoilers)Roland, a main character from the first game. A strong person can still be the damsel, taken off guard or overwhelmed. They even pull the whole "your princess is in another castle" after you find him the first time, (and possibly again if you aren't fast enough.)
Is there something inherently wrong with strong damsels? I don't play a lot of games with gendered characters, there are probably a few FF games that have strong female damsels, and we know princess peach can fight for herself, even in Super Mario Bros. 2 a 1988 game she is shown as being able to fight.

"The" damsel in distress can fight for herself, Just because a woman is a damsel in distress doesn't make her weak.
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Re: Gamergate

Postby EMTP » Thu Mar 12, 2015 1:02 am UTC

krogoth wrote:Shouldn't it be perfectly fine in some contexts, being the damsel doesn't automatically mean being weak, Borderlands 2 damsel is (spoilers)Roland, a main character from the first game. A strong person can still be the damsel, taken off guard or overwhelmed.


I suggest watching the videos themselves. This is a point that is addressed very specifically at several points. From part one:

This brings us to one of the core reasons why the trope is so problematic and pernicious for women’s representations. The damsel in distress is not just a synonym for “weak”, instead it works by ripping away the power from female characters, even helpful or seemingly capable ones. No matter what we are told about their magical abilities, skills or strengths they still ultimately captured or otherwise incapacitated and then must wait for rescue.

Distilled down to its essence, the plot device works by trading the disempowerment of female characters FOR the empowerment of male characters.

Clip- Vigilante

Let’s compare the damsel to the archetypal Hero Myth, in which the typically male character may occasionally also be harmed, incapacitated or briefly imprisoned at some point during their journey.

Clip- Montage

In these situations, the character relies on their intelligence, cunning, and skill to engineer their own escape — or, you know, just punching a hole in the prison wall works too.

The point is they are ultimately able to gain back their own freedom. In fact, that process of overcoming the ordeal is an important step in the protagonist’s transformation into a hero figure.

A Damsel’ed woman on the other hand is shown to be incapable of escaping the predicament on her own and then must wait for a savior to come and do it for her.


As, for that matter, is the counterpoint that games including these tropes are "solidly entertaining":

As always it’s important to keep in mind that it’s entirely possible to be critical of some aspects of a piece of media while still finding other parts valuable or enjoyable.


I would also point out that transcripts of all these videos are available at http://www.feministfrequency.com. It might make for a more fruitful discussion if those taking issue with points in these videos cite the actual statements which they think are problematic.
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Re: Gamergate

Postby krogoth » Thu Mar 12, 2015 1:36 am UTC

"plot device works by trading the disempowerment of female characters FOR the empowerment of male characters"

This is imo is blatantly incorrect though, it's not for empowerment of the male character, it's to give an objective to the player.

The male character gains nothing over the female.

If China takes over new Zealand, Australia isn't empowered. Even though we might want to save our mates.
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Re: Gamergate

Postby KnightExemplar » Thu Mar 12, 2015 2:53 am UTC

EMTP wrote:
krogoth wrote:Shouldn't it be perfectly fine in some contexts, being the damsel doesn't automatically mean being weak, Borderlands 2 damsel is (spoilers)Roland, a main character from the first game. A strong person can still be the damsel, taken off guard or overwhelmed.


I suggest watching the videos themselves. This is a point that is addressed very specifically at several points. From part one:

This brings us to one of the core reasons why the trope is so problematic and pernicious for women’s representations. The damsel in distress is not just a synonym for “weak”, instead it works by ripping away the power from female characters, even helpful or seemingly capable ones. No matter what we are told about their magical abilities, skills or strengths they still ultimately captured or otherwise incapacitated and then must wait for rescue.

Distilled down to its essence, the plot device works by trading the disempowerment of female characters FOR the empowerment of male characters.

Clip- Vigilante

Let’s compare the damsel to the archetypal Hero Myth, in which the typically male character may occasionally also be harmed, incapacitated or briefly imprisoned at some point during their journey.

Clip- Montage

In these situations, the character relies on their intelligence, cunning, and skill to engineer their own escape — or, you know, just punching a hole in the prison wall works too.

The point is they are ultimately able to gain back their own freedom. In fact, that process of overcoming the ordeal is an important step in the protagonist’s transformation into a hero figure.

A Damsel’ed woman on the other hand is shown to be incapable of escaping the predicament on her own and then must wait for a savior to come and do it for her.


As, for that matter, is the counterpoint that games including these tropes are "solidly entertaining":

As always it’s important to keep in mind that it’s entirely possible to be critical of some aspects of a piece of media while still finding other parts valuable or enjoyable.


I would also point out that transcripts of all these videos are available at http://www.feministfrequency.com. It might make for a more fruitful discussion if those taking issue with points in these videos cite the actual statements which they think are problematic.


Okay. Did you read my point about Catching Fire and the treatment of Peeta?

I've seen Sarkeesian talk. That's why I'm trying to elevate the subject and make comparisons to other art forms. Do you think that Peeta's capture and treatment in "Catching Fire" was for the empowerment of Katniss Everdeen?? Or is it because "X Person is captured" is just a common plot device that is bloody useful?

In Final Fantasy 13, as Sahz tries to save his only son from the clutches of the enemy, is the "X in distress" trope demeaning of I dunno... black children or something? I call bullshit. Its a trope. Sometimes its used against women, maybe disporportionally, but I can think of plenty of "X in Distress" situations where the captive is not a woman.

What about all the Senators who are stuck in Alien warzones, calling upon Team X-Com to save them?

What about the Damsel in Distress subverted trope? I've already talked about Starcraft: Brood War. Sarah Kerrigan played Jim Raynor for a fool by pretending to be a damsel while she assassinated the few remaining people in the Galaxy who were capable of dealing with her growing army.

If anything, the issue is that the "Damsel in Distress" trope is disporportionally used against Women. But to argue against the trope itself (without acknowledging the many other examples where males or children are put into the "hostage" situation, awaiting rescue from the heroes), is ignorance. Yes, ignorance. Because clearly, you haven't been playing as many video games as I have. So I can tell when you're cherrypicking examples.

I think that arguing against the "X in Distress trope" in general is poor argument form at best. Because I'd bet that Sarkeesian was perfectly happy for Peeta to be starved, beaten, imprisoned, and held hostage by the big bad while Katniss Everdeen does her best to save him from the clutches of evil.
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Re: Gamergate

Postby PolakoVoador » Thu Mar 12, 2015 12:15 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:If anything, the issue is that the "Damsel in Distress" trope is disporportionally used against Women. But to argue against the trope itself (without acknowledging the many other examples where males or children are put into the "hostage" situation, awaiting rescue from the heroes), is ignorance. Yes, ignorance. Because clearly, you haven't been playing as many video games as I have. So I can tell when you're cherrypicking examples.


Sorry, but the "many other examples" are the cherrypicking. There's a difference between Damsel in Distress and Badass in Distress, or Whatever X in Distress.

The Damsel is mostly helpless, and that's it. She doen't have much more uses for the story besides putting the plot in motion and being the prize itself for the hero. Historicaly, it's almost always a pretty woman that needs rescuing and that is the trope. Most female characters in videogames are limited to this trope, and that sucks.

When a staple trope of the media is "helpless mostly useless women", I don't see any wrong in calling it a bad one.

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Re: Gamergate

Postby Zamfir » Thu Mar 12, 2015 1:09 pm UTC

plot device works by trading the disempowerment of female characters FOR the empowerment of male characters"

This is imo is blatantly incorrect though, it's not for empowerment of the male character, it's to give an objective to the player.

The male character gains nothing over the female.

If China takes over new Zealand, Australia isn't empowered. Even though we might want to save our mates.

The kidnapping is only half of the trope - the other half is that the protagonist will eventually save her. It's fiction, not reality, and causation can run backwards compared to reality. In reality, China does not invade countries so Australians can do heroic deeds. But in fiction, authors do put in the kidnapping in order to give the protagonist a heroic victory at the end. That's the trade: the damsel is written as weak, so the protagonist can be written as heroic.

Sometimes its used against women, maybe disporportionally, but I can think of plenty of "X in Distress" situations where the captive is not a woman.

I don't really see your point here. Yes, heroes get to rescue more than just damsels in stories. Also senators, their male children, the world, etc. But no one is claiming that damsels in distress are the only storyline in existence. Just that male-hero-saves-a-female are common, much more common than the reverse. And that this is part of a wider tendency where male characters are presented as more active, more in charge of their lives and the world around them than female characters.

Is your point that this is solely due to cherry picking? That a comprehensive survey would show that there is no such bias to have male heroes and female rescueables?

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Re: Gamergate

Postby maybeagnostic » Thu Mar 12, 2015 1:42 pm UTC

KnightExemplar wrote:Do you think that Peeta's capture and treatment in "Catching Fire" was for the empowerment of Katniss Everdeen?? Or is it because "X Person is captured" is just a common plot device that is bloody useful?

Peeta's capture in the story serves the specific function of disempowering Katniss. She really, really wants to save him but is completely incapable of doing so. This whole situation has almost nothing to do with the damsel in distress trope and your insistence that it does makes me think you either haven't read the books or don't know what the trope entails.

KnightExemplar wrote:If anything, the issue is that the "Damsel in Distress" trope is disporportionally used against Women.
That is the argument, yes. The damsel in distress trope with male hero and female damsel doesn't automatically ruin any game it exists in, much like failing the Bechdel test doesn't make a movie sexist. It's an argument about a systemic problem in a medium not about any particular work in the medium.

KnightExemplar wrote:Because clearly, you haven't been playing as many video games as I have.

That may be but what does it have to do with the topic? I don't play that many games but I do see the trope very often in books, movies and TV series. Generally speaking, it is part of lazily written and uninspired story lines.

KnightExemplar wrote:I think that arguing against the "X in Distress trope" in general is poor argument form at best. Because I'd bet that Sarkeesian was perfectly happy for Peeta to be starved, beaten, imprisoned, and held hostage by the big bad while Katniss Everdeen does her best to save him from the clutches of evil.

Wikipedia wrote:The damsel in distress or persecuted maiden is a classic theme in world literature, art, film and video games. She is usually a beautiful young woman placed in a dire predicament by a villain or monster and who requires a hero to achieve her rescue. After rescuing her the hero can usually convince the woman to be their wife.

Katniss doesn't save Peeta and he doesn't fall in love with her for saving him (which she couldn't do anyway). Having someone be kidnapped does not equate to a damsel in distress trope. The supposedly harmful parts of the trope are the damsel's passiveness/incompetence and the part where she is the hero's reward for his work. I have never seen, read or played a work where gender roles have been reversed but the full trope holds together. I'd be curious if you can name one.
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Re: Gamergate

Postby leady » Thu Mar 12, 2015 2:03 pm UTC

its almost like narratives in games that use such extremely old emotional tropes are primarily targetted at males, which of course they are (not exclusively but ...). Major AAA titles are a self selected sample of young men, you market to your audience. I don't think there is an argument that the fictional narratives in games don't follow the exact fictional narrative tropes that persist in all media targetted at men (christ I read read fantasy novels they are 99.9999% these tropes :) ). Why this is a problem is the debate, not why it might be subject to a whole heap of assumptions.

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Re: Gamergate

Postby krogoth » Thu Mar 12, 2015 2:10 pm UTC

I would say her work is cherry picking, I had a long page written out but it was eaten by the fora.

The main reason I dislike her work is she is criticizing games, demonizing it, not objectively critiquing it like it is suggested she does.
This causes people who don't play them, or don't play them much to demand bans, even if she doesn't do it herself she is inciting hate against games and receives hate for it, an unjustified amount of hate in both cases.

It's nice to list out all the follys of games, but in the past 3 years I haven't any positive points from her about them.

If she weren't so bias, and say wanted women on terrorist and counter terrorist sides in counterstrike I'd be much more understanding of her position.
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Re: Gamergate

Postby KrytenKoro » Thu Mar 12, 2015 2:24 pm UTC

krogoth wrote:"plot device works by trading the disempowerment of female characters FOR the empowerment of male characters"

This is imo is blatantly incorrect though, it's not for empowerment of the male character, it's to give an objective to the player.

That's very nearly the definition.

The male character gains nothing over the female.

If China takes over new Zealand, Australia isn't empowered. Even though we might want to save our mates.

This is a very basic misunderstanding of empowerment. Empowerment, in this context, does not literally mean "has more physical/military power". We're not talking about going Super Saiyan. We're talking about someone gaining more social power -- that what they do or say matters more. It's also crucial to note why something happens. In real life, a country will conquer another country to empower themselves. In fiction, the author has them conquer another country to not only empower themselves (to have a compelling villain), but also to give the hero something to react against, empowering them. The damsel's choices and actions have their effort negated in order to make the hero's choices and actions more important. They are aggrandized, as a person.

For example, if supervillains never did anything, Superman wouldn't have much to do because as a rule, he doesn't do much except fighting evil. He's reactive, not proactive. If the author removed all the things the bad guys did to his world, Superman as a fictional character would be disempowered, because his stories wouldn't change anything and wouldn't have any importance. He would have nothing to do.

That kind of thinking can be harmful in real life, helping to minimize empathy. If you want a really unsubtle example, there's an episode of It's Always Sunny where a store gets robbed and each character imagines how they'd react. Mac, for example, doesn't give a toss that the store owner is getting mugged, he's thinking "finally, an opportunity to use my leet ninja skillz in real life!" When you have that kind of thinking in the real world ("A zombie apocalypse would be AWESOME because I'd get to do X and Y and be the leader and dadadada...")...that's Damsel in Distress thinking. The person isn't thinking "My god, that would be awful, think of all the suffering we must do everything to prevent it", they're thinking "that'll be my time to SHINE".

And thus we get survivalists and TEOTWAWKI people. Cops who care more about being able to be badasses than making sure the civilians don't get shot. Politicians who care more about looking tough on crime than making sure they're actually punishing the guilty. Etc. (Or, more on point, if one of the "big stick" countries specifically exacerbates a tense situation and increases human suffering to create a conflict on the ground so that they have an excuse to roll in and be the big hero. *cough*coldwar*cough*)

And it's not the idea that it's ever okay to be the hero of our own story, damn the effects to those around us that is harmful, it's the constant pounding into our heads of this message that makes us think that this is the only way to act. The pervasiveness of the trope, which is in fact what makes it a trope.

Okay. Did you read my point about Catching Fire and the treatment of Peeta?

I've seen Sarkeesian talk. That's why I'm trying to elevate the subject and make comparisons to other art forms. Do you think that Peeta's capture and treatment in "Catching Fire" was for the empowerment of Katniss Everdeen?? Or is it because "X Person is captured" is just a common plot device that is bloody useful?

Yes, it blatantly serves to empower her. It's an entertaining story, but it's not especially...profound, or anything. It's pretty stock "let's do all the cliches but with the gender's reversed", and in the absence of a trend that doesn't really mean much of anything.

If anything, the issue is that the "Damsel in Distress" trope is disporportionally used against Women. But to argue against the trope itself (without acknowledging the many other examples where males or children are put into the "hostage" situation, awaiting rescue from the heroes), is ignorance. Yes, ignorance. Because clearly, you haven't been playing as many video games as I have. So I can tell when you're cherrypicking examples.

...That is literally the whole fucking point. That is what makes it a trope. If I write a story about unicorns fucking the moon to make a baby out of rainbows, that does not mean I've created a trope about unicorns fucking the moon to make a baby out of rainbows, because no one else does that thing and it says nothing about the tendencies in how society thinks and acts. Your rebuttal is completely nonsensical.

In Final Fantasy 13, as Sahz tries to save his only son from the clutches of the enemy, is the "X in distress" trope demeaning of I dunno... black children or something? I call bullshit. Its a trope. Sometimes its used against women, maybe disporportionally, but I can think of plenty of "X in Distress" situations where the captive is not a woman.

Literally the whole fucking point. Literally 100% the entire fucking point, the thing that everyone stresses is what is the issue, and you're glossing over it like people are saying "YOU CAN NEVER HAVE A DAMSEL EVER."

What about the Damsel in Distress subverted trope? I've already talked about Starcraft: Brood War. Sarah Kerrigan played Jim Raynor for a fool by pretending to be a damsel while she assassinated the few remaining people in the Galaxy who were capable of dealing with her growing army.

What about that time that Beardly McActionStar shat his pants at a Taco Bell? He did it that one time, therefore meaning that's an action movie trope that we should associate with action movies. If an action movie's star didn't shit himself at a Taco Bell, it's not a real action movie.

It is like seriously the definition of "trope" that we're examining the broader societal trends and what it means that something is the trend, not that we do assinine stuff like "one time a white guy held the door for a black guy, therefore black's never get racially targetted ever."

I think that arguing against the "X in Distress trope" in general is poor argument form at best. Because I'd bet that Sarkeesian was perfectly happy for Peeta to be starved, beaten, imprisoned, and held hostage by the big bad while Katniss Everdeen does her best to save him from the clutches of evil.

Then you're arguing a strawman. "I'd bet they'd be okay with this thing I hate based on nothing they've ever said" is an extremely lacking argument, in the politest possible terms.

Peeta's capture in the story serves the specific function of disempowering Katniss. She really, really wants to save him but is completely incapable of doing so. This whole situation has almost nothing to do with the damsel in distress trope and your insistence that it does makes me think you either haven't read the books or don't know what the trope entails.

I would like to dispute this. It's usually pretty straightforward Dudesel in Distress whenever they're in the ring (and Peeta's obsession with Katniss rings pretty similar to a reward of love, even if Katniss doesn't exactly want it most of the time), but Katniss still gets a lot of the instant deferment and authority to set the plans on how they'll rescue Peeta. The very climax is...a flip on that, pretty much negating all of that effort in one fell swoop, but it seems to me to mostly be done to set up the next book rather than a natural evolution of what happened earlier in the story. In the next book, though, she again gets to lead the effort to rescue Peeta (if not on the ground, then by having the necessary authority to extract concessions from those who can be).

Hunger Games, to me, seemed to at most twist the trope by saying "what if we flipped the genders, and also the hero rescued the Dudesel just out of basic human empathy, and didn't give a twit about winning his hand in marriage."
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Re: Gamergate

Postby PolakoVoador » Thu Mar 12, 2015 3:45 pm UTC

leady wrote:its almost like narratives in games that use such extremely old emotional tropes are primarily targetted at males, which of course they are (not exclusively but ...). Major AAA titles are a self selected sample of young men, you market to your audience. I don't think there is an argument that the fictional narratives in games don't follow the exact fictional narrative tropes that persist in all media targetted at men (christ I read read fantasy novels they are 99.9999% these tropes :) ). Why this is a problem is the debate, not why it might be subject to a whole heap of assumptions.


Except females represent between 40% and 50% of the gaming demographics. Game developers are not catering to their audience, their are being lazy and falling back to old tropes repeatedly. As maybeagnostic pointed out, it is not the trope per se that is the problem, but its overutilization opposed to the almost non-existent flip-side, the Dude in Distress.

So yes, the Damsel in Distress is a problem because it so widespread.

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Re: Gamergate

Postby leady » Thu Mar 12, 2015 4:09 pm UTC

80% of the players of the fps and 3rd person games that are criticised for the use of those tropes are played by men. This isn't a media wide citique and if it was the rate of damselling across all games of all types would be trivial, probably less than a single digit across all titles.

but why is the absence of dude in distress an issue? (although I'm not even sure this is true - just that the male saving male scenarios that regularly play out are in a different context) and why is the prevalance of damsel in distress an issue?

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Re: Gamergate

Postby Chen » Thu Mar 12, 2015 4:45 pm UTC

PolakoVoador wrote:Except females represent between 40% and 50% of the gaming demographics. Game developers are not catering to their audience, their are being lazy and falling back to old tropes repeatedly. As maybeagnostic pointed out, it is not the trope per se that is the problem, but its overutilization opposed to the almost non-existent flip-side, the Dude in Distress.

So yes, the Damsel in Distress is a problem because it so widespread.


The demographic argument is not as obvious as just looking at the number of female gamers though. If they aren't playing the AAA games (or any story driven game where the tropes generally come into play) the argument about target audiences becomes less clear. Looking at the ESA data it's not obvious if that breakdown by genre is available (at least publicly).

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Re: Gamergate

Postby Derek » Thu Mar 12, 2015 5:08 pm UTC

PAstrychef wrote:The harm that you are refusing to see is the very limited depictions of female people in the games discussed, and the ways in which violence towards those characters is endemic, usually unecessary to the storyline and sexualized.

Violence towards women is not endemic in games. Violence towards men is endemic. But somehow that's never a problem. You can mow down thousands of male mooks in a game, but one woman gets killed and suddenly your game is misogynistic. Most of these games won't even put a woman in a combat situation for fear of moral guardians. A game like GTA is the exception here, where all NPCs are treated equally. You can kill a prostitute a take her money, just like you can kill every male NPC and take their money. That's equality.

The complaint being made is that a pretty big part of our society thinks these depictions are ok as part of entertainment. The argument is that these instances are examples of how our society as a whole views women, and that that view is pretty bad.

They're obviously ok as part of entertainment. Entertainment is allowed to tackle tough issues, and you can't tackle those issues if you can't portray them. The idea that just because entertainment portrays something means that society is ok with it is ludicrous, and never established in Anita's videos.

Last week a video of a woman singing about n*****rs hit the interwebs. Would you think everything was ok in our society if the response had been " ha ha! That's really entertaining! Calling people racist slurs is ok if it's entertaining!"

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but people have been using "niggas" in songs for decades, and the complaints have largely fallen on deaf ears.

In the same light, games where in order to get the most possible points you have to murder the prostitute are showing ideas still active in parts of our society that need fixing.

No such game was shown in Anita's videos. This is certainly not true of either GTA or Hitman (which are the usually cited prostitute killing games). Can you tell me what game you're thinking of?

And I'm going to assume that you didn't just imply that society thinks killing prostitutes is ok.

Do the games harm society? Rather, they show how a harmful society is exaggerated in the limited game-world. The continued acceptance of the depictions of women seen in the games discussed really will end up limiting how women get viewed in real life.

Your first sentence is saying that games are only a reflection of a society that already holds harmful views. Your second is saying that games will cause society to adopt these harmful views. Which is it?

PolakoVoador wrote:Except females represent between 40% and 50% of the gaming demographics. Game developers are not catering to their audience, their are being lazy and falling back to old tropes repeatedly. As maybeagnostic pointed out, it is not the trope per se that is the problem, but its overutilization opposed to the almost non-existent flip-side, the Dude in Distress.

The number is heavily influenced by genre and platform. The audience for AAA action games is overwhelmingly male, usually 80+%. If you add "competitive" to that description, it goes to 90+%. These are the games that Anita spends most of her videos talking about. The audience for mobile games on the other hand skews towards women (not as overwhelmingly, maybe 60% or so), and simulation games, single player games, and co-op games are relatively more popular with women than other genres.

Here's a discussion that includes a lot of examples of games and their male/female player ratio.

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Re: Gamergate

Postby PolakoVoador » Thu Mar 12, 2015 5:13 pm UTC

leady wrote:80% of the players of the fps and 3rd person games that are criticised for the use of those tropes are played by men. This isn't a media wide citique and if it was the rate of damselling across all games of all types would be trivial, probably less than a single digit across all titles.

but why is the absence of dude in distress an issue? (although I'm not even sure this is true - just that the male saving male scenarios that regularly play out are in a different context) and why is the prevalance of damsel in distress an issue?


For the same reasons that most Holywood movies failing the Bechdel test is a problem. And that is hard to find a movie which fails the reverse-Bechdel test. It shows a terrible trend of treating women a shallow background characters at best, or beautiful eye-candy sex prizes for the men at worst. It highlights the lack of female writers, and how mostly males are directing our culture.

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Re: Gamergate

Postby leady » Thu Mar 12, 2015 5:34 pm UTC

I'm not sure that its a problem because its a problem is proof of a problem :)


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