Backlash Against Women in Games
Recently, two interesting gaming stories have pop up across the internet. One is the feministfrequency video, Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. Tropes vs. Women in Video Games is a new feminist mini web series that aims to examine the roles that female characters play in video games, and how it effects the views of women in the digital media. The first video of the series has been published and examines the classic trope of the Damsel in Distress (I’m looking at you Peach), and the negative effect of this trope being constantly repeated across video game history.
The second story could be the cutest story ever, is about a game developer who plays video games with his youngest daughter. He was playing the original Donkey Kong with her when she asked if she could play as Paulina, and save Jumpman. So what did he do? He reprogrammed the entire game so that Paulina would be the leading lady. (Insert “awwww’s” and “best dad of the year” here. )
These have both been interesting stories that have received a lot of positive attention on the internet. But like anything on the internet, these stories have also received a lot of backlash.
The creator of Tropes vs. Women, Anita Sarkeesian, started a Kickstarer in order to raise funds to create the web series. Almost as soon as the Kickstarter was put up, the internet went a bit crazy. Anita was attacked all across the message boards, bring negative comments to her Kickstarter account, her youtube channel, and her email account. These attacks ranged from foul names to threats, but they all seemed to be from men who believed that she was trying to disrupt the status-quo of video games, and destroy everything that they know. These attacks were highly organized and systematic, showing that these attacks weren’t just confused teenage boys in their basement, but these were full grown men, fully aware of what they were doing.
And the creator of Donkey Kong: Paulina Edition, Mike Mika, has not escaped the attacks either. While the majority of the internet seems to be in agreement this could be the cutest gaming story ever told, the majority is rarely the loudest. His video and message boards have been flooded with angry gamers, once again thinking someone is trying to upset their status-quo. Angry anonymous posters have stated that Mike is brain washing his daughter, he should be teaching her that the damsel is her rightful role, and women aren’t strong enough to be the hero.
Some might say that these attacks are just “what the internet is” or “boys being boys,” but they shouldn’t be brushed off as normal. They should be viewed as unacceptable in the gaming community. The community should be embracing anyone that wants to partake in this wonderful art form, because while video games have gone mainstream over the past decade, many gamers are still outsiders. What about the kid that was made fun of for playing Pokémon on the bus? What about the kid that was made fun of because he couldn’t properly throw a ball, so he played Mario instead? What about the kid that couldn’t get a date to prom, so dated Miranda in Mass Effect 2 instead? Face it. Many of us are just weird. So how can any gamer turn away anyone from video games, when many of us know what it is like to be turned away. Just because women want to game, doesn’t mean the world of gaming will fall apart. There will still be testosterone fuel explosion boner fest games, but why not give Peach or Zelda a chance to save the day?