Anita Sarkeesian Tagged Articles RSS Feed | Anita Sarkeesian RSS Feed on en Launch Media Network Mirror's Edge Catalyst suffers low user scores on Metacritic Tue, 07 Jun 2016 16:51:59 -0400 TheSmartestMoron

Today, the sequel to Mirror's Edge finally hits store shelves. The reviews, all found here at VG24/7, have their fair share of ups and downs, though nothing too terrible has been mentioned. Yet things are not faring well on the Metacritic user scores, which currently have a large majority of negative reviews over the positive ones. Given how the game was released just today, it seems unlikely that everyone finished the game. Rhianna Prattchet, the writer of the prequel comics to Mirror's Edge and having previously worked on the rebooted 2013 version of Tomb Raider and its sequel, went on Twitter to point this out.

For those unaware, it was rumored that Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency was working with DICE to develop the game. Using Kickstarter, she funded a show identifying and analyzing women in video games, which can be found on YouTube. There was a massive disagreement with the idea of her working on Mirror's Edge, which eventually led to a petition to remove Sarkeesian from the development team. However, EA eventually stepped in when the petition became more well-known and admitted that Sarkeesian had no involvement whatsoever. Though there isn't too much proof that Sarkeesian is the direct cause of these negative user scores, as one can simply leave a score on Metacritic without commenting so long as they can log in.

There was an extremely similar case with DMC: Devil May Cry when it first released, as many fans did not like the direction the reboot was taking the franchise. There was more than low scores, as there were death threats and even a petition to President Obama to remove the game from store shelves.

Mirror's Edge Catalyst hits store shelves today on PS4, Xbox One, and PC, developed by DICE and EA.

Is Doom too violent? Tue, 26 Jan 2016 16:59:25 -0500 Engela Snyman

Doom is awesome. That's an understatement, really. It is one of the best franchises to come out of the nineties. And despite the old, pixelated graphics and 8 bits sound bytes, it's still really fun to play. Now that the brand new Doom is coming out in 2016, we can all drool at the yellow-filtered awesomeness that is the teaser trailer.

However, not everyone is as ecstatic as fans about this upcoming bucket of awesome. Anita Sarkeesian, feminist activist and gamer, recently voiced her upset over the trailer on Twitter:

anita sarkeesian tweet

What Sarkeesian doesn't seem to understand is that "because Doom" is, by any fan's reasoning, a pretty darn good excuse for violence in a video game.

Part of the beauty of games is that there's such a wide range of styles, stories, and genres that being unable to find something you like is nearly impossible. And despite the very popular idea that violence in games equals violence in real life, there is little to no evidence to even suggest this.

A Quick Study

video game violence

A chart from the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ) clearly shows that as game sales go up, violence actually begins to drop. Countries that have larger consumption of video games than the United States have a very low gun-related crime rate.

In Britain, Oxford University conducted a small study on the effects games have on children. It showed that children who play games for long periods of time might become more aggressive, but this effect doesn't vary between violent and non-violent games. According to the author of the study:

“All observed behaviors were very small in magnitude, suggesting only a minor relationship at best and that games do not have as large an impact as some parents and practitioners worry."

There are numerous other studies that do not only disprove this theory, but debunk it so hard it should be dead and buried by now.

So is Doom too violent?

Yes it is! It is a bloody, crazy, gory mess of violence and madness. The developers are sticking to the roots of the original, and turning a pixelated horror-show into a nightmare-inducing CGI horror show. This is hell after all, and that is a very good thing.

Gore in games like Doom, Mortal Kombat and GTA 5 are staples in a their specific genres, wherein players can (and are supposed to) embrace the violence of the game and enjoy the adrenaline rush. Ripping a monster's head off is almost gratifying, and that's the idea behind these games -- just good, clean fun. And "gore galore" is something the film industry seems to enjoy just as much.

A film like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which was released in 1974, was thought to be too violent, and was at first rated X before being changed to R. Today the film is decidedly 'low-key', and more gore is welcomed in movies, not demonized. People grow, as do the industries they work in. What seems like the devil today might just turn into a harmless shadow tomorrow. We grow accustomed to what we see, and in 10 years' time this trailer might even be seen as 'not gory enough'.


But why the upset from so many people?

Simply put, these games are not for everyone, and people react to things that upset them. Mortal Kombat X had much the same problem last year, which seems to be a running theme with that franchise. Death Race, the 1976 video game, also had the same problem when it first came out. Yet today we barely hear about it. 

Trying to root out violence in these games because it offends you is not fair to the franchise or its fans. Doom is part of a genre aimed at a specific group of people, and that group doesn't need to include everyone -- just the ones who actually enjoy this style of game. If you don't like it, you don't have to play it.

Perhaps this sentiment is most aptly stated by Bethesda's Pete Hines:

"If you're not into violent, bloody video games... Doom is not for you,"

Preach it, Bethesda. Most of us will be playing our hearts out when Doom hits the shelves. And we will be loving it.

Anti-Anita Sarkeesian posters seen plastered at E3, #GamerGate supporters to blame? Sat, 20 Jun 2015 10:56:50 -0400 Sam Yoo

Derogatory posters of Anita Sarkeesian were seen plastered all over the area surrounding E3.  

A new twitter account called @femfreakE3 claims credit for them.

The poster in question labels features a black and white photo of Sarkeesian's face, with the label 'Fem Freak' in bold text.  This is accompanied by the caption 'All your tropes are belong to us, honey'.  

Printed all across the background is the GamerGate hashtag, in light gray text.

As was intended, they did not go unnoticed.  These posters have already sparked a good deal of new criticism of GamerGate.

IGN Editor Mitch Dyer is one of those speaking out.

But was it really GamerGate?

There is also an ongoing discussion about whether this was actually the work of GamerGate supporters.

While some seem to be in favor of the posters, many GamerGate supporters condemn the person responsible.

Some even argue that these posters are a 'false flag operation' meant to garner sympathy for Sarkeesian.

An outside party?

It is even possible that this was the work of an outside party with completely unrelated motivations.

Game journalist Oliver Campbell points out that it could be an advertising campaign, riding on the sensationalism for attention.

In addition, an article on Destructoid made the claim that a group called Unsavory Agents was behind the posters and that:

The group is also known to place razor blades underneath these posters to cause harm to those who try to remove them. 

The latter statement was subsequently retracted as it was unsourced.  In addition, while Unsavory Agents does exist, their work seems to be predominantly politically based, and they do not seem to have any affiliation with video game related issues.

Overall it is still unclear what motives drive the party behind these posters. However, there seems to be a general consensus that it was in exceedingly poor taste.

What's your take on this? Who do you think may be responsible? Let us know in the comments below!

Anita Sarkeesian in the Time 100 Fri, 17 Apr 2015 05:16:04 -0400 Thomas M Gumbel

Time Magazine has included Anita Sarkeesian on their annual list of 100 most influential people. Sarkeesian is the only Titan/Pioneer/Artist/Leader/Icon (the categories for the Time 100) included for their work in gaming.  If you follow game news and don’t know who Anita Sarkeesian is by now… I don’t even.  Founder of Feminist Frequency, the video series Tropes vs. Women in Games, and one of GamerGate’s primary targets, Sarkeesian made the list for starting the gender equity conversation in gaming and not backing down/disappearing under a deluge of death threats, rape threats, stalking, and every conceivable form of social-media-centric terrorism.

“As her detractors grow increasingly unhinged, we have proof that her efforts are working.”

- Wil Wheaton, Time 100

By and large, the AAA industry’s response to either the deepening criticism of the medium or said criticism’s violent backlash has been… less than resounding.  But, this is coming right on the heels of Zoe Quinn speaking to Congress, the start of Crash Override Network, and Twitter CEO Dick Costolo’s recent(ish) promise for a change in policy to better protect Twitter’s users from abuse. Strides are being made in the right direction.

On being selected for the Time 100 list, Sarkeesian said:

 “I'm encouraged that our video series on the portrayal of women in video games is starting to have a tangible impact on the gaming industry at large.” 

Anita Sarkeesian's New Video Highlights Positive Female Characters Wed, 01 Apr 2015 06:19:02 -0400 GameSkinny Staff

The latest video from Feminist Frequency hit YouTube yesterday, and the world did not end. The video focuses around the Scythian of 2011 indie hit Sword and Sworcery. 

While Anita Sarkeesian has been threatened in the past for her criticism of gender topics in video games, this video seems to be garnering a lot of support and next to no flack. The videos in Sarkeesian's "Tropes Against Women in Video Games" series were the subject of bile-filled, volatile, bare-knuckled internet brawls.. but this new "Positive Females in Video Games" series is not likely to accrue as much hate.

In past videos, Sarkeesian's criticism painted the world of gaming in a negative light by pointing out common tropes in games where female characters are often objects of sex and brutality. Many gamers, male and female alike, felt personally attacked when those videos criticized elements of their hobby. Many gamers lashed out in defense, painting Sarkeesian as a folk villain in the 2014 pop culture landscape.

The lens of Feminist Frequency's academic criticism is now turned towards a critical analysis of games that break free from mold and throw sexist tropes out the window; these are games worthy of praise, the video argues.

The comments section is turned off, but many gamers on various forums seem significantly less hostile towards Anita Sarkeesian and this new video.

Feminist Frequency's Anita Sarkeesian Announces Two Upcoming Video Game-related Series Fri, 30 Jan 2015 06:08:06 -0500 Jessa Rittenhouse

Anita Sarkeesian of the non-profit Feminist Frequency has recently announced the creation of two new video game-related web series to be released in the next year. One will focus on "the representation of men and masculinity in video games," and another miniseries that will offer examples of positive representations of women in video games.

Sarkeesian, host of the organization's popular series Tropes vs. Women, says in the 2014 annual report that the series will continue, kicking off the year with the upcoming video "Women as Reward," which is currently in production.

In addition to introducing the new series, the report also lays out the organization's statistics for the past year, including financial information, total YouTube views (in excess of five million), the breakdown of their audience by age, and much more.

Anita Sarkeesian appeared on the Colbert Report in 2014 to discuss the #GamerGate Controversy.

In 2014, she was driven from her home by death threats and was forced to cancel a talk at Utah State University in October (due to threats of a shooting massacre if she were allowed to appear). Despite a turbulent year, Sarkeesian remains positive and dedicated to the organization's cause, citing the passion of viewers, fans, and game development companies that work to improve the representation of women in games as the force that drives her to continue.

One of the most vocal feminist figures in gaming, Anita Sarkeesian was awarded the Game Developer's Choice Ambassador Award in 2014, appeared on The Colbert Report to discuss the GamerGate controversy, and was featured in The New York Times.

Victims of Gamergate Need to Take A Stronger Stance Mon, 19 Jan 2015 11:02:44 -0500 Stan Rezaee

Gamergate was once again in the news early this week after a critic of the movement, Israel Galvez, became a victim of SWATing.

While not officially confirmed, Gamergate advocates have been suspected of making the call since others like Galvez have been the victims of SWATing. This was followed by Dateline's report on the movement as it told the story of what Anita Sarkeesian and others have endured.

Based on who you ask, Gamergate is either a sexist movement that targets women in gaming or a community trying to hold the media accountable. In all honesty, Gamergate is not a sexist movement in same way that Birthers are not racist.

Such trolling has been an issue in the gaming world but it has gotten real ugly in the last several months. The biggest reason that the Gamergate has gained so much strength has been because those who have been targeted by the movement have failed to stand strong. 

Legitimizing Threats

Despite the movement having to rely on clowns using dummy accounts, most of their targets have given them legitimacy by taking the threats seriously. As someone who had been in the same predicament, I respect what they are doing but can not respect how they have allowed fear to define who they are.

Many years ago I took an unpopular stance on a controversial issue and received some threatening emails because of it. No it wasn't about how women are portrayed in video games, it was about the arrest of Phuong Ho by the San Jose Police.   

Back in 2009, the police were called to a dorm after Ho allegedly threatened a roommate with a knife. When he failed to cooperate with the officers, they had to subdue him while the incident was being recorded.

This all taking place in the Bay Area, civil rights and student groups were quick to denounce the actions of the officers as an act of police brutality. Obviously some even accused the officers of being racist (because all cops are being racist when doing their job).

I was among the few who defended the actions of the San Jose Police, given my background as a cop reporter. However those who disagreed with my stance attacked my character while a few radicals sent death threats.

One clown even emailed me a 500 word letter calling me an animal, threatening to harm me, and wanting to report me to President Obama (half of the letter made no sense). The second half of the letter was more of a diatribe about his sad life and something about war and murder (again no spell check was used). Unfortunately for these trolls, I was not intimidated and the article is still available for everyone to read.

I even kept that stupid email as a souvenir while passing it to friends who wanted a good laugh. This was not the only time thugs have tried to harass or intimidate me because of an article I wrote.

Being a Crime Writer

Long before becoming a video game writer, I was a political commentator and crime writer for La Voz Weekly at De Anza College. I had the pleasure of following the brave officers who protected the campus while writing about several incidents. However, some people didn't like their arrest being on the front page and emailed me their outrage. Despite what my advisor would say, I never would take any of the hate mail seriously.

Despite the danger, I do miss being a crime reporter but I will publish an OpEd's about a controversial arrest from time to time. I still get hate mail by clowns threatening me but most of it gets deleted.

While I never had anyone post my address online or called a SWAT team on, there were moments I did fear for own well-being. However, I refused to show weakness and stood strong in the face of attempted bullying.

What victims of Gamergate have failed to realize is that the majority of these trolls are most likely childish teens who cannot back up their threats. It needs to be noted that targets of this fringe movement are feminist game critics living in the Western world, not civil rights activists in a Third World regime.

Those who have stood up to injustice have always met with hostile opposition that put them at risk. Yet they never surrendered to fear and kept fighting on until the change they wanted was achieved.

Rather than show fear, these figures should follow Alanah Pearce's example by tracking down these trolls and reporting them to their mothers.

Following the example of Charlie Hebdo, feminist game critics need to take a stance that shows they will not give-in to the threats. In the words of the great Sir. Winston S. Churchill, "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Critics like Sarkeesian need to focus more on their message of change and less on the trolls.  

Feminist Frequency Releases "25 Invisible Benefits of Gaming While Male" Thu, 04 Dec 2014 19:03:01 -0500 Amanda Wallace

Feminist Frequency, best known for the web series Tropes vs. Women in Video Games has long been the subject of controversy. From Feminist Frequency founder Anita Sarkeesian being forced to flee her home to getting death threats, it's easy to forget that the web channel still puts out several videos including it's Trope's series.

The latest is from producer Jonathan McIntosh (who writes about this video in an article on Polygon) and talks about male privilege and the unintentional perks that are part of gaming culture that men may or may not be aware of. The article and video are both excellent, with the video including several well known male personalities in video games (from Adam Sessler to Tim Schafer). 

I would advise watching the video, but if you need a quick recap here are the 25 Invisible Benefits of Gaming While Male (quoted from McIntosh's article): 

1. I can choose to remain completely oblivious, or indifferent to the harassment that many women face in gaming spaces. 

2. I am never told that video games or the surrounding culture is not intended for me because I am male. 

3. I can publicly post my username, gamertag or contact information online without having to fear being stalked or sexually harassed because of my gender. 

4. I will never be asked to "prove my gaming cred" simply because of my gender. 

5. If I enthusiastically express my fondness for video games no one will automatically assume I'm faking my interest just to "get attention" from other gamers. 

6. I can look at practically any gaming review site, show, blog or magazine and see the voices of people of my own gender widely represented. 

7. When I got a gaming event or convention, I can be relatively certain that I won't be harassed, groped, propositioned or catcalled by total strangers. 

8. I will never be asked or expected to speak for all other gamers who share my gender. 

9. I can be sure that my gaming performance (good or bad) won't be attributed to or reflect on my gender as a whole. 

10. My gaming ability, attitude, feelings or capability will never be called into question based on unrelated natural biological functions. 

11. I can be relatively sure my thoughts about video games won't be dismissed or attacked based solely on my tone of voice, even if I speak in an aggressive, obnoxious, crude or flippant manner. 

12. I can openly say that my favorite games are casual, odd, non-violent, artistic, or cute without fear that my opinions will reinforce a stereotype that "men are not real gamers." 

13. When purchasing most major video games in a store, chances are I will not be asked if (or assumed to be) buying it for a wife, daughter or girlfriend. 

14. The vast majority of game studios, past and present, have been led and populated primarily by people of my own gender and as such most of their products have been specifically designed to cater to my demographic. 

15. I can walk into any gaming store and see images of my gender widely represented as powerful heroes, villains and non-playable characters alike. 

16. I will almost always have the option to play a character of my gender, as most protagonists or heroes will be male by default. 

17. I do not have to carefully navigate my engagement with online communities or gaming spaces in order to avoid or mitigate the possibility of being harassed because of my gender. 

18. I probably never think about hiding my real-life gender online through my gamer-name, my avatar choice or by muting voice chat, out of fear of harassment resulting from my being male. 

19. When I enter an online game, I can be relatively sure I won't be attacked or harassed when and if my real-life gender is made public. 

20. If I am trash-talked or verbally berated while playing online, it will not be because I am male nor will my gender be invoked as an insult. 

21. While playing online with people I don't know I won't be interrogated about the size and shape of my real-life body parts, nor will I be pressured to share intimate details about my sex life for the pleasure of other players. 

22. Complete strangers generally do not send me unsolicited images of their genitalia or demand to see me naked on the basis of being a male gamer. 

23. In multiplayer gamers I can be pretty sure that conversations between other players will not focus on speculation about my "attractiveness" or "sexual availability" in real-life. 

24. If I choose to point out sexism in gaming, my observations will not be seen as self-serving, and will therefore be perceived as more credible and worthy of respect than those of my female counterparts, even if they are saying the exact same thing. 

25. Because it was created by a straight white male, this checklist will likely be taken more seriously than if it had been written by virtually any female gamer. 

Again, it's an interesting video, and playable above. 

Anita Sarkeesian Talk at Utah State Cancelled Wed, 15 Oct 2014 06:59:02 -0400 Amanda Wallace

"This is a warning to all staff and students at Utah State University.

On Wednesday, October the 15th, a woman named Anita Sarkeesian is going to be speaking at the Taggert Student Center...

If you do not cancel her talk, a Montreal Massacre style attack will be carried out against the attendees, as well as students and staff at the nearby Women's Center. I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs. This will be the deadliest school shooting in American history and I'm giving you a chance to stop it."

This is an excerpt from the complete email obtained by the Standard Examiner. The complete email is posted at the conclusion of this article. 

According to Utah State, a number of university personnel received a threatening email yesterday.  Yesterday Anita Sarkeesian cancelled a scheduled talk at Utah State University, where she was going to discuss the portrayal of women in video games. Gamers and fans will recognize her for her previous work on the Youtube series Tropes vs. Women as well as being a controversial figure inside the world of gaming. 

"I will write my manifesto in her spilled blood, and you will all bear witness to what feminist lies and poison have done to the men of America." - email threat

USU went on to say that they are coordinating with local state and federal law enforcement agencies to assess the threat and to find out who is responsible. Originally it seemed that Sarkeesian's talk would go on as planned because it was "determined it is similar to other threats that Sarkeesian has received in the past."

However, she decided to cancel her talk after finding out that due to Utah law the day before it was scheduled to go on, "if a person has a valid concealed firearm permit and is carrying a weapon, they are permitted to have it at the venue." 

For context, the Montreal Massacre took place at the École Polytechnique in Montreal, an engineering school affiliated with the University of Montreal in Quebec. Marc Lépine entered a classroom at the school, separating male from female students before opening fire on the female half. He then continued through the campus, shooting twenty-eight people. He ultimately killed fourteen women before shooting himself.  Lépine evidently felt that he was "fighting feminism." 

"I am a student here. You will never find me, but you may all soon know my name." - email threat

As for the deadliest school shooting in US history, that is perhaps up for debate. It could be when 32 people were killed at Virginia Tech, which is certainly a lot of people. A spiritual worst, however, would be Sandy Hook which resulted in the deaths of 20 young children and six adults. 

While this attack has not been linked directly to the GamerGate movement, a comparison comes to mind. Elliot Rodgers, who murdered thirteen people over sexual rejection, may not have defined the pick up artist and MRA communities. These communities might not accept what he had done. But he was encouraged by the negative attitudes expressed by those communities. He felt emboldened and empowered by their rage and disrespect.

Similarly, the potential Utah State school shooter may not represent GamerGate, but he seems to have been emboldened by their reactions and their treatment of women in the gaming community. He is ultimately to blame for his actions. He and Rodgers are not, as we would say colloquially in the South, "good people." But we must acknowledge: they do not exist in a vacuum.

The full text of the email, as obtained by the Standard Examiner

#GamerGate Controversy Inspires Suicide Prevention Charity Fundraiser Sun, 14 Sep 2014 15:24:11 -0400 Jessa Rittenhouse

The recent controversy surrounding the ethics of game journalism, dubbed "GamerGate," has inspired a positive outcome in the form of a charity fundraiser on CrowdRise to promote awareness and support research for suicide prevention. 

Amidst the storm of heated debate concerning journalistic ethics in gaming and the rise in online harassment in gaming communities, there has come a growing awareness of a need for change in the gaming industry on all fronts - not just among journalists and game developers, but among gamers themselves. This has given way to efforts to improve the community, including an open letter by game developers urging gamers to curb hate speech and harassment, and now this charity to aid the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in its efforts to help depression sufferers get the support and treatment they need.

Gamers are coming together to help combat the serious problem of suicidal depression. If you or someone you know is suffering, don't suffer alone - get help.

Charity organizer Lo Ping described the intent of the charity's efforts on the fundraiser's description page:

Recognizing the need for awareness and aid, we are raising money to benefit the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.  Depression is a very serious and often silent issue that plagues many. Often times, video games are used by some as a means of escapism to get away from those feelings.  But we recognize that sometimes, people need more help than this. And they may not be aware that there is help out there; an ear and a voice that won't judge, won't criticize. A community that understands, and that can help them through their most trying times.

In just over an hour from the creation of the fundraising page, the $2000 goal was met, and has now nearly tripled. To donate to the cause or find out more, visit their CrowdRise page.

FBI and IGDA Team Up to Address Online Harassment Sat, 13 Sep 2014 13:56:45 -0400 RemyMD

The FBI and US branch of the International Game Developers Association is teaming up with bullying experts to address the rise in online harassment. In an exclusive interview with Polygon, the IGDA revealed that it is working on a resource on its site that may help game developers outline what will be done to deal with harassment and abuse. Recently the game development community took a stand against online harassment.                      

IGDA’s Executive Director, Kate Edwards, has been working with the FBI since their meeting at the San Diego Comic Con in July. The meeting regarded the harassment of game developers. According to Edwards:

“They noted a rise in activity. They monitor this activity, but are focused more on cybercrime issues like hacking and very malicious harassment.”

A spokesperson for the FBI, Emily Yeh, said:

“We wanted to let Ms. Edwards know the FBI’s capability,”

The harassment of game developers has become a much talked about issue since last summer, after a number of incidents with high-profile members brought the issue to light. In the most resent case, feminist game critic Anita Sarkeesian was driven from her home due to death threats, as well as a bomb threat on Twitter that caused the diverting of a plane carrying Sony Online Entertainment’s president John Smedly.        

This week the game development community stood up against hateful behavior online. The board of directors for the IGDA condemned the harassment of developers, with the rallying support of several other representatives from companies such as Ubisoft, Splash Damage, DICE, Telltale, Microsoft, Rockstar and many others in an open letter on their website.

Game Devs Petition Gamers to Curb Hate-speech and Verbal Abuse Thu, 04 Sep 2014 09:39:30 -0400 Travis McGee

Gaming culture is one of the fastest evolving in the world. It has changed and grown more in just a few decades than many cultures do in centuries. However, one thing that has not changed with this evolution is the prevalence of unbridled hate-speech and verbal abuse that, for many, defines the gaming community and relegates it forever to the status of "immature hobby."

Well, now hundreds of triple-A developers in the United States and Europe are calling for gamers to do something about it.

In an open letter to the gaming community at large Andreas Zecher - a designer working with Berlin-based independent developer Spaces of Play - calls on everyone in the games industry from developers to players to stop the hate. Zecher has worked on two of Spaces of Play's most popular games: Future Unfolding and Spirits.

Spaces of Play is an indie developer with a focus on surreal, artistic games that offer easy access and deceptively deep story for players. Above you can see the artistic style of "Future Unfolding."

This call for action comes on the heels of the Zoe Quinn-related controversy as well as the now-infamous harassment of Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency.

At one point, the aggressions of certain members of the gaming community were so threatening that Sarkeesian was forced to flee her home for fear of her physical safety.

Zecher's letter is a response to the way these women and many others have been treated by the gaming public. The letter has been reproduced below:

We believe that everyone, no matter what gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, religion or disability has the right to play games, criticize games and make games without getting harassed or threatened. It is the diversity of our community that allows games to flourish.

If you see threats of violence or harm in comments on Steam, YouTube, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook or reddit, please take a minute to report them on the respective sites.

If you see hateful, harassing speech, take a public stand against it and make the gaming community a more enjoyable space to be in.

Thank you

- Andreas Zecher (Spaces of Play)

At this point Zecher's petition to the community has been closed with endorsements from 2,495 developers and personalities in the industry, including representatives for Naughty Dog, Blizzard Entertainment, Bungie, Rockstar North, 343 Industries, and Epic Games among many others.

Online Abuse and Threats Drive Sarkeesian to Flee Home Wed, 27 Aug 2014 12:31:02 -0400 Yasmin Curren

Anita Sarkeesian is the creator of Feminist Frequency, a video web-series that critically explores the representations of women in pop culture narratives. Under Feminist Frequency is a series called Tropes vs Women in Games, which highlights research about how woman are treated and sexism can be portrayed through video games.

This series has brought Sarkeesian much attention, both positive and negative. But last night the negative proved far too much as she was driven out of her home by abuse and threats from critics of her videos. She has posted some of the tweets that she received with a 'trigger warning'.

"I usually don’t share the really scary stuff. But it’s important for folks to know how bad it gets." 

She is certainly not lying, the tweets mentioned are far too vile to even put in this article.  Luckily this abuse did not go any further than mere tweets and posts, even through she was driven out of her home, no physical harm came to her:

"I'm safe. Authorities have been notified. Staying with friends tonight. I'm not giving up. But this harassment of women in tech must stop!" 

Anita has also, not long before, been shown a much more positive response to her insight into the misogyny of the gaming world, and not just from other women. Acclaimed writer, producer and director, Joss Whedon, tweeted some very positive words about Feminist Frequency, in particular the videos about gaming, which suggests that others to indulge in these informative videos as well. He also stuck up for Anita during the online abuse attacks.

The latest video from the Tropes Vs Woman in Games series, "Women as Background Decoration," explains how

largely insignificant non-playable female characters whose sexuality or victimhood is exploited as a way to infuse edgy, gritty or racy flavoring into game worlds. These sexually objectified female bodies are designed to function as environmental texture while titillating presumed straight male players. Sometimes they're created to be glorified furniture but they are frequently programmed as minimally interactive sex objects to be used and abused.

This video has gotten much praise and is being shared around for its detailed explanations and blunt reality of misogynistic scenes within many popular games. It's a real eye-opener for both genders!

Even though these threats are primarily online, this is still very serious.

Why people feel the need to say such vile things at all is beyond me, especially since the only reason for them (that can be seen) is because Anita is discussing a controversial topic and her observations are based off video references from games that are beloved. Some may see a criticism of a favorite game as an attack on themselves. Sarkeesian's videos are not hostile, but instead she uses her series to make statements about observable tropes regarding the differences in the treatment between men and women, not just in video games, but within media in general.

Sarkeesian seems to be sticking to what she believes in even though she realises that such threats will continue. She is currently not planning to stop her video series.

Cosplayers Express Their Feelings on Ubisoft's Statements About Women Being Too Hard to Animate Mon, 14 Jul 2014 10:09:05 -0400 Angelina Bonilla

The cosplayers at Gaymer X donned boxes and wielded swords against each other in heated battle. Why? To call out Ubisoft just once more.

The outfits themselves are as follow, one has a set of googly eyes and an Assassin’s Creed sash on it with the words “BOOBS?” scrawled across the front and the other has “2 HARD TO RENDER”  on it.  This is quite frankly hilarious and these girls should win any cosplay contest they enter in. The picture was originally tweeted by Feminist Frequency's Anita Sarkeesian.

Cosplayers always find a unique way to express themselves and there are some great cosplayers out there who never fail to impress with their costumes.  Some being so accurate to the character they are portraying it's scary as well as some unique interpretations of character concepts we are already familiar with. Recently however, two female cosplayers decided to take a different approach in honor of the statements by Ubisoft about how women were too hard to animate.

The #WomenAreTooHardToAnimate hashtag has been going around the internet ever since Ubisoft’s unfortunate interview where they insisted that the reason that the women weren’t put in the game was because of the extra work put into it. The story has been brought to the media’s attention at least a thousand times and even writers here at GameSkinny have written two separate articles on it.  One by WesleyG and the other written by myself.

Ubisoft has been called out on their statement multiple times now and you’d think the internet would have forgotten all about this little debacle. The thing that no one seems to keep in mind though, is that the Internet never forgets.

Tropes Vs. Women in Games and the Boons of Abandoning Authorial Intent Tue, 17 Jun 2014 06:06:07 -0400 GameSkinny Staff

Anita Sarkeesian is doing incredible and important work with her "Tropes vs. Women in Video Games" series. Other than her work, there is an incredible lack of publicized game criticism beyond comparatively simple product reviews. There is also, in response, an incredible lack of conversation held on the same level of criticism. I hope this short article helps to contribute to that conversation.

The most recent "Tropes vs. Women" video "Women As Background Decoration" (published on June 16th) is an in-depth observation of the common video game trope which places sexualized female NPCs in a decorative role within game worlds. There is no shortage of evidence of this trope and Sarkeesian posits that this oversaturation of objectified female bodies is a negative force in popular video game media. I could not agree more. The extent of this trope is most noticeable when the typical female NPC is compared to typical non-sexualized male counterparts. 

What is Authorial Intent?

The one point that throws me off, however, is that Sarkeesian brings up the intent of the game developers - I was following along and happy to back her points, but I honestly can't get behind using authorial intent in criticism. There are specific scripted events that do encourage violence and objectification of women in games, but there is no way to account for player-directed violence and objectification.

Authorial intent is a hotly debated subject in media criticism - I place myself on the side of the fence which claims that authorial intent is dead. Once you give a dog a ball, you can't control where it runs.

In the essay "The Author is Dead," French literary critic Roland Barthes argues that it is useless to assume that you know the mind of an author based on that author's text. Once a book is published, its relationship with its author has ended.

"'To give a text an Author' and assign a single, corresponding interpretation to it is to impose a limit on that text."

 - Barthes, "The Author is Dead"

Imposing intent limits the possibilities that may arise from certain piece of media content. If you consider a cardboard box to only function for holding a refrigerator as intended by the manufacturer, then you ignore that the box could be a fort, or play ship, or anything else that a 4-year-old could come up with.

This is a simplified explaination of authorial intent, but this where my mind gravitates as I consider the later points of Sarkeesian's video. Assuming intent of developers is a limitiation of itself. There is merit in her investigation of this trope, but certain considerations must be taken as to not make blanket assumptions about the minds of the developers.

Authorial Intent In Video Games

Especially in video games, authorial intent drops off significantly as gamers are given a space to play and push whatever limits of the game they possibly can. It is akin to giving a child a sandbox and a shovel. The difference being: Yes, there are certain events that do reward specific acts of brutality, and devs can be held accountable for overusing the sexualized female as decoration. There is no doubt about this point, I 100% agree.

However, a developer can't be responsible for a heteromale player killing a sexualized heterofemale character at random (scripted or 'game-necessary' events set aside). Sarkeesian's example of Deus Ex sticks out, where the player instructs Jensen to stab a random sex worker NPC - this is an unnecessary and gruesome kill on a sexualized female NPC, and this random action is in no way a suggested or 'intended' by the game.

Abandoning Authorial Intent Opens Criticism of Player Engagement in Trope

Not every game that engages in women-as-object tropes is necessarily also on trial for brutality against sexualized females. If there are violent and unnecessary player actions that DO engage this form of brutality, then the issue of cause/effect is reversed. This then becomes an issue of 'why is this gamer choosing to attack women in this game?' Which I believe is a question concerning faults on a wider context of cultural violence towards women.

This consideration dictates a very interesting shift in the dynamic of how tropes work in video games. There are tropes of development (developers tend to use sexualized women as NPC object decoration) and tropes of player engagement (some players tend to brutalize sexualized NPCs).

To me this is an intriguing and complicated development in the concept of tropes in gaming. What are the tropes of video games and what are the tropes of video gamers? In this interactive media format, the interaction and engagement of the player holds an enormous weight. What tropes can we see in player activity when we consider the player in tandem with the tropes of game content?

Just as gamers have an interactive role in the games they play, they also have an interactive role in creating tropes in video games.

New Feminist Frequency Video: Women as Background Decoration Mon, 16 Jun 2014 18:06:09 -0400 Amanda Wallace

Lightning rod figure Anita Sarkeesian has published her newest video as part of the "Tropes vs. Women" series, this one focused on women as background decoration. 

Ms. Sarkeesian's series, part of her Feminist Frequency channel, is focused on highlighting the negative tropes specifically applied to women in gaming. A trope can mean a variety of things, from figure of speech to a cliché, and the series has touched on a couple including the Damsel in Distress and Ms. Male Character. The series is a good introduction to feminist commentary in games, and breaks the subjects down into 30 minute segments with plenty of video game clips and assorted content. 

This video focuses on "women as background decoration," and touches a lot on sexual objectification and women in sex worker occupations. She talks about content like missions that have you walk through brothels or changing rooms, the option to use women as camouflage in Assassin's Creed 4, and sex worker mini-games in the Grand Theft Auto series.

If you've been interested in Anita Sarkeesian's work in the past, or are interested in feminist game commentary it's an interesting watch. Feel free to comment below with your thoughts on the video.  

Anita Sarkeesian Publicly Addresses FanArt Controversy Mon, 17 Mar 2014 09:39:59 -0400 Kate Reynolds

Last week, artist Tammy Smith wrote an open letter to Anita Sarkeesian, accusing the Feminist Frequency founder of stealing artwork--specifically a picture of Princess Daphne from Dragon's Lair that Smith had created as fanart. 

 While there was no official word from Anita Sarkeesian regarding the discussions, Tammy posted a follow-up via her Twitter and Tumblr letting the general public know that she and Anita were in discussions regarding the image. 

Without an official statement from Anita Sarkeesian, it was left to internet spectators (such as myself) to try and understand the event, and demonstrated how certain segments of the internet still despise her.

Finally, 10 days after the original post Sarkeesian publicly responds. 

First, we would like to offer our sincerest apologies to Tammy for mistaking her Dragon’s Lair fan art for official promotional material two years ago when we created this remix collage. 

...Feminist Frequency makes a point to try to not use fan art. Many fan artists are so talented that their creative works can look as good, if not better than the official versions. So we try our best to be diligent and make sure all media used is from the publishers and developers of the games discussed but occasionally we do make an honest mistake.

The official response apologizes to Tammy and explains how the mistake happened. Looking at the image itself, it is easy to understand how this mistake could be made - the quality and style of the image nail that which is used in official Dragon's Lair artwork. 

Sarkeesian has also removed the image from the Tropves vs. Women in Video games collage out of respect: 

We believe that our transformative use of Tammy’s fan art is a fair use under the law. However, since we honestly did not intend to use fan art in this case, we have voluntarily gone ahead and replaced the fan art in our old collage as a gesture of goodwill.

Both the clarification of Fair Use law and the removal of the Princess Daphne image addresses the concerns that Tammy listed in her open address and her follow-up. 

However, considering how often the Troves vs. Women in Video Games logo has already been spread across the internet, it is unclear if the new image will ever overtake the original.

Sarkeesian goes on to explain why it has taken so long for this public announcement to be made: 

We did not feel it would be appropriate or professional to publicly discuss this incident until a resolution could be reached.

Complicating matters was the fact that Tammy had recently been in direct social media communication with at least one individual who has participated in the doxxing of me, my team and my family. We do not believe Tammy had any knowledge of this person’s actions, but it necessitated additional caution on our part in dealing with this situation.

We did not feel it would be appropriate or professional to publicly discuss this incident until a resolution could be reached.

For someone who has received hundreds if not thousands of threats about rape and death, it makes sense that Sarkeesian would deal with cases like with deliberate caution. Unfortunately, that means that it is sometimes necessary for Sarkeesian to let gossip fester for a few days instead of responding with a knee-jerk reaction. 

As I mentioned in a previous post, I'm impressed with the civility on both sides of this public disagreement, and Sarkeesian's response only reinforces my opinion that both parties have acted professionally during this controversy. 

I'm completely satisfied with this apology. 

 For me, this public statement addresses all of the questions I had regarding the issue, and seems to address all of the problems that Tammy had with Sarkeesian in the first place. She even goes so far as to make sure the world knows that Feminist Frequency is registered as a non-profit--which feels akin to asking President Obama to show his birth certificate. 

I know that, at this point, people who already despise Sarkeesian and Feminist Frequency will not be swayed by this apology nor the information she cites in it. For those of us on the other side of the spectrum, we can resume sending Anita happy thoughts; she probably desperately needs them desperately. 

Update: Sarkeesian FanArt Issue Under Debate Fri, 07 Mar 2014 09:05:15 -0500 Kate Reynolds

Earlier this morning, I wrote that Anita Sarkeesian had been accused of stealing FanArt for her Troves vs Women in Gaming project. However, as of fourteen hours ago, Tamara Smith reports that Sarkeesian has been in touch, and the issue is being resolved. 

While I predicted that only the trolls would be quick to judge, I failed to realize that my immediate condemnation of Sarkeesian also came too soon. 

For that I apologize to both Sarkeesian and Smith. Their polite debate and engagement is a model that I hope to follow in the future as I endeavor to first give people (particularly my heroines) the benefit of the doubt. 

I had hoped that Sarkeesian and Smith could publicly resolve Smith's complain in mature dialogue. This hope has been realized, something I thought impossible given the gaming community's history of responding to detractors. 

While the situation has not been resolved to Smith's satisfaction, Sarkeesian has been in touch and the two are continuing dialogue regarding the use of Smith's artwork in Sarkeesian's work. 

Tamara Smith and Anita Sarkeesian have ultimately provided us with positive model for both criticism and response. 

It is a completely valid thing to criticize an issue, particularly if you feel like your work has been stolen. In both her initial letter and in her public address of copyright concerns, Smith was by open and honest, allowing for polite debate of the issue. Her insistence on polite dialogue and working through the proper channels has been amazing to watch, as has her clarification of copyright law

While simple bibliography may have circumvented this issue in the first place, Sarkeesian's willingness to engage is exactly how a creator of any public content should respond when faced with valid criticism. Hopefully Sarkeesian can continue to this dialogue to the satisfaction of her own followers and Smith. 

While I may still have some mixed feelings regarding Sarkeesian's initial use of the image (and whether Fair Use laws are completely adequate in many regards), I am appreciative of the conduct of both parties. Thanks to both ladies for modeling how professional an internet argument can be, and teaching me to: 1) hold my horses 2) check my sources. 

Sarkeesian's Stolen FanArt Fail Fri, 07 Mar 2014 07:22:10 -0500 Kate Reynolds

When I spoke to my husband about writing this article, he asked "Are you even capable of writing something bad about Anita Sarkeesian?" The answer? Not easily. Anita Sarkeesian (and Felicia Day) has been one of my role models in both the gaming and academic communities, truly embodying what I believe it means to be a public intellectual. However, since I hold her in the highest respect, it also means that I hold her to the highest principles. 

Today, I happened across this article from artist Tamara Smith detailing the theft of her art in the Tropes Vs. Women logo. According to Smith in her open letter to Anita Sarkeesian,

"Financial and legal complications aside, I hope you [Anita Sarkeesian] understand that you’ve taken away my personal voice and ownership as a fellow content creator. Without my permission or knowledge, you’ve taken my work out of context to use for your own agenda, leaving me no control over how my work is seen or used."

In support of these claims, blogger Viscor compiled an image showing the Tropes vs. Women promotional image with Tamara Smith's original artwork overlaid. 

The image makes clear that the Tamara's picture of Princess Daphne has been appropriated and modified, without consent, for the Tropes vs. Women logo. 

 Let's face it - copyright law is confusing and weird, especially when it comes to FanArt

Since Sarkeesian claims to be using the images under "Fair Use" then her use of Tamara Smith's image could be 100% legal. Currently Smith is simply asking Sarkeesian to prove that Feminist Frequency is legitimately a non-profit. 

However, let's throw legal implications to the side for a moment, and consider the impact this has on Sarkeesian's overall message and goals. On the "About" page of Feminist Frequency, Sarkeesian is defined as a media critic exploring sterotypes of women in popular culture and and advocate of "issues surrounding the targeted harassment of women in online and gaming spaces."

As a person who has undergone quite a bit of harassment herself, Sarkeesian has been outspoken about harassment in her many appearances and interviews. Harassment comes in more flavors than outright threats and sexually demeaning comments. For a successful woman to refuse to at least acknowledge the source of an image can be seen as a form of harassment. While it may not necessarily be a gendered form of harassment, it is harassment nonetheless. 

For a successful woman to refuse to at least acknowledge the source of an image can be seen as a form of harassment
Supporting women against harassment means respectfully engaging in dialogue with them when they take issue with you. 

Sarkeesian's refusal to address this issue despite many attempts by Tamara Smith and others to amicably resolve the situation, undermines her message and gives fodder to the trolls just waiting for her to slip up. Sarkeesian's deconstructions of women in video games has been met with an astonishing amount of vitriol - what will her detractors do now that she's actually made a mistake?

The FanArt swipe, and accusations of unsourced Let's Play videos also call into question exactly where  the $158,922 raised for the series went. One major criticism of Kickstarter is the inability of supporters to see exactly where their money is going, With the large sum of money Sarkeesian gained, it's tough not to wonder how there wasn't enough money in the budget to respectfully pay for this image. 

Irony is too small a word to describe this situation.

As someone who supported the Tropes vs. Women Kickstarter, and truly appreciates all of the work Sarkeesian has done in the past few years, I'm taking this like an arrow to the knee: it came out of nowhere and I'm still reeling from the implications. 

That said, my initial feeling is regret regret for the retribution this might bring to both Sarkeesian and the many women working to make gaming a safer place for women. There are so few public female figures in gaming, that what blemishes one often blemishes us all.

Ideally, I hope that Sarkeesian and Smith can publicly resolve this in a way that strengthens the community as a whole. At this point though, I would simply accept any explanation as long as it came quickly and honestly. 

Editor's Note: The author of this article has written a follow-up article about the resolution of this, which can be found here.

Xbox One Ad Promoting Sexism Sun, 08 Dec 2013 20:04:22 -0500 Reilly C.

Sexism in videogames and the games industry has recently been brought to the forefront of media attention. Once-unknown blogger Anita Sarkeesian and her site Feminist Frequency have leapt into the limelight to market heavily upon showing people how to change existing characters; how to make role models rather than sex symbols. However you may feel about her, she has brought many good points to the table about how women should or could be portrayed in videogames; but what about the things she and many others don't notice? What about the other side of the table?

While it may seem strange, men can be offended by improper portrayals of the male gender as well. Crazy, I know. I was watching something on YouTube when this ad (shown above) popped up and left a bad taste in my mouth.

My problem is that no one cares about the reverse sexism on display in this video. This is a blatant jab at guys saying, "Hey, what if the girl was acting like some bro-dude douche bag? That would be funny right?"

Let me make something clear: I have never treated my wife like this ever. Not when we first met, not when dating, not after our vows. Regardless of if you are male or female, this behaviour is gross and unappealing. The fact that they are framing it that all men act that way is just as insulting.  

(Might I add that it never SAYS it is her Xbox. In fact, the Xbox One's Kinect can identify people in the room and simply log them in just by them walking in.) 

If this had been a guy acting like this to his girlfriend, Microsoft would have already been beaten down with hate mail, the video would have been taken down and an apology sent out. But because it's the other way around, the girls are getting their laughs and defending it.

There is is no equality here.

I am not demanding a response or an apology from Microsoft; I just think that there needs to be more of an equal response from the female side at least admitting that the girlfriend in the video was acting like an asshole. Male or female, she was being a royal dick.

Maybe this sounds petty and seems like I am looking too much into this. I most likely am getting frustrated over nothing and should learn to take a joke for what it is.  Maybe, just maybe, I am being a little too sensitive about all of this. 

But this is my solution:

How about next time this sort of thing pops up, we realize that no one is outright attacking anyone and allow companies to start marketing upon a crowd based upon their insecurities. In the future, we can strive towards not cashing in on people's anger and manipulating a market to think a certain way through power.

How about we all take a step back and realize we are playing videogames. I will play a bald, beefneck space marine or an overly sexualized female if I feel like it BECAUSE I ENJOY THE GAME!

If anyone reads this, just learn to take a joke. Excuse me as I stop wasting my time talking about this garbage and go play a game.