Hello and welcome to my first ‘Thoughts on’, a thing where I try to dissect various things. I’ll be looking at videogames, books and alike, turning my eyes to a subject and coming up with theories about it. Or in some cases talking about them and giving an opinion
Today I’ll be looking at Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. Now my opinion on the creator of this series is not very high, for a number of reasons. I watched a few of her previous videos and read her thesis, both of which showed a woman who doesn’t really think outside the box.
In her paper she listed off feminine and masculine traits, without really explaining why they are designated to those genders. In her mind a woman can’t have strong leadership skills without acting as a man, which is just plain stupid. However I will applaud the fact that she has gotten herself a great deal of PR, by targeting what she knows is an easy to piss-off audience. She has made herself out to be a victim of something everyone has dealt with, trolls on the internet.Yes there were some serious threats thrown around, but it's all been merged together. And in some cases those ‘trolls’ and threats were just differing and inoffensive opinions.
The most recent one I have watched ‘Damsel in Distress’ did bring up some valid points though, even if everyone already knows them. Yes Princess Peach is indeed a needy damsel and keeps getting kidnapped, this is well trodden ground with jokes a-plenty. áThe exact same thing can be said of Zelda and Pauline, it is a trend I’d love to see kicked to the curb as well.
And yet she never once explained how to best tackle this problem, nor showed any twists on the ‘Damsel in Distress’ formula. All the watcher gets is a history of sexism in the videogames industry, by a woman who seems to believe nothing has changed since the invention of videogames. She only includes that which boosters her points and agenda, without even sparing a glance for the other side.
One example of a twist on the ‘Damsel in Distress’ can be seen in Liara T'Soni from the Mass Effect series, a researcher who needs to be rescued. By all account she is saved because her mother is one of the bad guys and Liara might just have some information, which sounds somewhat typical. Yet she only needs to be rescued during that one mission, sure she’s na´ve and plays into the geek girl stereotype but she does develop. And did I mention she is a powerful biotic user?
By the second game she grows and becomes a little more threatening, which is explained due what one friend dying and another being kidnapped. And that she’d being hunted by a very powerful person known as the Shadow Broker, alongside it being somewhat her fault you work for a group of known terrorists. So by this point her place as a ‘Damsel in Distress’ has lessened a fair amount, despite some emotional neediness.
There’s also Garnet from Final Fantasy 9, who actually wants to be kidnapped by Zidane and co. She doesn’t really become a Damsel in Distress until later, but by being kidnapped Garnet pretty much started the whole plot. She is first put into distress when she’s captured by a cage-like plant, which also happens to Vivi. In the latter case the boy’s black magic saved him, whilst Garnet was knocked out cold by life draining.
Garnet is also put in distress again, because she tried to reason with her mother. After having her summons extract and possibly nearly dying, the princess begins to realise her mother has gone a little insane. You see after those two events Garnet has conflict within her and develops as a character, it’s a part of her character arc. So her second/third kidnapping is used as a way for her to learn something, and was caused by a need for her mother to not be evil.
Anita also mentioned how much Zelda gets kidnapped, but only briefly shows that she can be smart. In Ocarina of Time the princess disguised herself and managed to avoid being captured, giving Link a great deal of help before finally getting captured. In the first The Legend of Zelda game she knew of Ganon’s plot and spilt the Triforce of Wisdom into pieces. She then enables a servant to find help as she is captured, which is how Link gets drawn into things.
And in Twilight Princess she wasn’t even kidnapped, she surrendered in order to save her people. She also makes it looks like she is dead and helps out in the final part of the game, again showing she can be smart. Honestly it has only really been in Skyward Sword where Zelda has been truly useless, acting as a complete prize and very little else.
And Dark Souls evens the playing field of ‘Damsels’ in Distress. Throughout a playthrough you can rescue around four women, one of which probably had to fight a great deal. Two of those women can be saved more than once and one of them can die, without you trying to kill her. I’ve counted five men who need saving throughout a playthrough, one of which needs to be saved twice. Another is rescued a total of three times and may still end up dead, despite managing to survive that long.
And I’ll also point out that the player can be female, without any unequal skimpy outfits. In fact there is only one female character who dresses in a manner even resembling sexual, she’s not even real. She’s an illusion created by her sibling, in order to ‘guide’ the player to an end goal. So that might not even be how she truly appears, we never know.
Yes none of these examples are truly perfect, not by any means. However there is a context in each one of them does show that things are not as black and white as Anita makes out. Sure there is room for improvement with females in games, but a little more insight and analysis is necessary here. Using tropes can also limit the examples available, painting a very narrow picture and already casting characters in negative lights.
The sad thing is that it’s what has happened here; Anita has picked examples and hasn’t even bothered to mention parts that don’t fit into her idea. I’d say this is cherry-picking facts, because she dares not even think that they could be tiny specks of a positive example with what she lists. She dismissing anything vaguely okay, much like how some gamers dismissed her entire YouTube series.
And what really bothers me is that her idea could be good, if in the right hands. If she was willing to go a little deeper into videogames, rather than listing off what we already know about it could be good. Perhaps finding a few diamonds and putting them up for display, showing gamers what a good female character looks would be nice. But to do that she has to admit that the industry is not one massive sexist pig.
It would also be swell if she allowed comments on her channel and videos, rather than complaining about a ‘vocal minority’. I know she's dealt with some horrid stuff, but that just smacks of self-fulfilling on her part. And yes I know this will tick-off her fans and such, but I do not give a rat’s arse!