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It Doesn’t Matter: You Should Be On Team Sarkeesian

by on March 12, 2013 at 3:42pm
Think carefully.

Think carefully.

I’m going to start by saying that this post isn’t necessarily about Anita Sarkeesian, the work she has done or feminism in general (though I’m sure that I’ll touch on a few points as I go along). What I do want to focus on is the polarizing effect she and her work have had on the video game community.

Looking at the groups that have risen from the supposed controversy that is Tropes vs. Women, gives us a clear distinction between the types of people who react to such things and the direction that video games are going in regards to the gaming community as a whole. Should we be forced to choose sides in the potential war on what is acceptable and what is not, I’m quite comfortable in saying that I’m sticking with Team Sarkeesian.

Acting Like Children

Personally, I’m aware that picking sides is an immature way of dealing with group dynamics, but because much of the population subscribes to this then I’ll prepare my arguments accordingly. For simplification purposes, we’ll refer to these groups as Team Sarkeesian (TS), Anti Sarkeesians (AS) and the Indifference Squad (IS).

Because it’s difficult to individually categorize the types of people who make up the ranks of each of these groups, I’m forced to generalize based on the louder and more bold members of each. This is the foundation of my argument, one that deals not with the content of the material that Tropes Vs. Women has presented, but the way in which people have reacted to it. If I had to describe each group with one word, Team Sarkeesian would be bold, Anti-Sarkeesians would be hostile and the Indifference Squad would be absent.

The Devil is in the Details

Right off the bat, joining Team Sarkeesian seems very intimidating and rightfully so. It’s composed of intellectuals and advocates, the type of people who don’t mind debating a wide range of topics. At times, such debates can be uncomfortable and shed light on ugliness that may or may not exist in this world. This often alienates those that may not have the sort of passion they exhibit. You may be surprised to learn that there are members of Team Sarkeesian that don’t even necessarily agree with all the content they’re named for. If anything, they are attracted to TS because of the prospects of open dialogue and in the best case scenario, their own self-improvement.

The Anti-Sarkeesians, on the other hand, dislike anything that may be contrary to what they know or love. Any opposition to their ideals is met with psychopathic fervor; attacks aimed at subject matter and character that know no bounds. This group is as intimidating as the first, but in a scarier sort of way. Their thirst for knowledge is replaced by a tooth and nails battle to keep things as they are. As Cliff Bleszinski put it in a recent blog post, they are the “Taliban of videogaming”.

The Indifference Squad are the more lovable bunch and can fit in with either of the groups, though they’re always quick to redirect conversation away from the topics mentioned above. They are either in complete denial of the problems at hand or prefer to ignore them in hopes of things eventually clearing up so that they can enjoy their favorite entertainment medium in peace. They’re not really helping things but aren’t really adding to the problem either.

Zealots of the digital World

It’s pretty easy to see the problems with joining the Anti-Sarkeesians because, well they’re freaking insane. They’ve threatened physical assaults, rape and even murder because someone challenged their way of thinking in regards to video games. VIDEO GAMES! Video games are fun, but committing heinous crimes against someone as a result of them is incredibly pathetic. It’d be one thing if they stood behind their viewpoints with pride, but they operate in the shadows and under the control of a hive-mind fueled by ignorance and fear. They also seem to really hate women in a way that’d make members of far right political parties blush. In short, the Anti-Sarkeesians are going to get you killed and in the least prevent you from having relationships that involve more than just well shaded, high polygon count digital models. They are the Zerg and are perfectly happy with everything being covered in purple goo.

The Indifference Squad is a safe bet, but their lack of acknowledgment can be just as damaging as the Anti-Sarkeesians blood soaked assault, though in entirely different ways. Their actions could be seen as lazy, especially when the opposition to Team Sarkeesian is making the entire video game community look really bad. If they were in a video game, they’d be the ones that overlooked the bite shaped marks that were appearing on corpses in and around Raccoon City. Three months ago, I would have fit quite well into this group and at times am tempted to cozy back up with them. This is where I believe a majority of gamers lie.

The Righteous Path

Despite the ease of Indifference Squad membership, the fate of humanity rests in the success of Team Sarkeesian. Their quest may have disrupted the once peaceful landscape of video gaming, but it revealed some important talking points that needed to be discussed before it was too late. If it wasn’t for their thoroughly researched material, people might think that they’re clutching at straws. Sure, they’re attempting to overthrow the status quo, but when the status quo is full of immaturity, misogyny, and racism, isn’t about time someone comes along to shake things up? One thing is clear, however and that’s allowing the Anti-Sarkeesian’s to continue on their rampage will only tarnish the industry further. It’s bad enough people think we’re losers but adding hate into the mix makes us something much worse.

In the end, this isn’t just about feminism but about the attitudes we’re comfortable with supporting within the medium we love. We need to come to terms with the fact that our beloved industry is showing signs of a chronic illness: one group wants to make things better through a potentially painful treatment process, one is exasperating the symptoms and one would prefer to let nature run its course. I don’t know about you, but the choice seems pretty clear.

It Doesn’t Matter – We bring the gaming industry and media coverage back down to reality when they overanalyze or miss the point of a particular story or game.

5 comments on “It Doesn’t Matter: You Should Be On Team Sarkeesian

  1. Great post Ethan, though in my opinion the Indifference Squad is doing harm. Ignoring the problem allows the status quo, which as you point out is harmful, to continue.

  2. Absolutely. I’ve recently come to this conclusion in my own life as I tend to stick to the outside when controversy strikes. That being said, it’s tough to ignore things that make you sick to your stomach and that’s exactly what gamer conduct has done to me recently.

  3. I feel its very much a situation of the bullied becoming the bullies. Gaming is cool now, and some of us who were picked on for it years ago want to return the favor.

  4. Great article, man. When I think about this, it’s an easy decision for me: I’m going to have kids. I may have daughters. I’d just as soon they had female models in games that aren’t (just) Ivy and Princess Peach. If someone really shining a spotlight on the (dominant) treatment of women in gaming can help them to have that as they grow up as gamer girls, awesome.

    PS: I’m giving props to Gears of War for ITS treatment of women (which, per Cliffy B, was carefully thought out). Also, I think FemShep gets a nod, as well.

  5. First of all, I do not condone the trolls who stooped down to Anita Sarkeesian’s level and counter-trolled her, because it did nothing to help their cause and just allowed her to claim victim-hood, which she has used as an excuse to ignore criticism made against her by just lumping all her critics in with the trolls. Silencing and ignoring the views that contradict hers does not make her right, and in fact it just makes those who would troll her even more pissed. Everyone who becomes successful on youtube inevitably gets some people trolling them, but most people just ignore them, whereas Anita’s solution was to insult everyone that disagreed with her by lumping them all together with the trolls and to disable comments and to ignore all other views.

    Anyway, a great many people like the Hitman game that she mentioned and showed in her video, but there was 1 mission in the whole game that involved a strip joint, and only 2 of the 7 areas in that stage were even inside that place. But the way Anita portrayed it, the whole game was like that, when in fact it amounted to a fraction of 1% of the game. She furthermore used a video in which two strippers in that level were killed and portrayed the whole game like you went around murdering random women, but the truth is that no one kills those strippers because they do not have too, it is easy to sneak past them (which is what you are supposed to do) and if you do kill them you are greatly penalized when it comes to how much you’ll be paid for the mission, because you are not supposed to kill innocent bystanders, only your target. So speaking from just this one games perspective, she out-right lied to her viewers.

    I personally am not a fan of Hitman, having only played one game in the franchise and never really got into that game style, but I recognize hypocrisy for what it is, and Anita went out of her way to make the game look badly acting in the exact opposite way the game wants you to act, and if you watch any Lets Plays of the level, the exact opposite that anyone acts. Watch as many lets plays as you want, and you will not find anyone killing those strippers, except for Anita Sarkeesian.

    The problem with Anita Sarkeesian is that she did not approach this issue in an unbiased way, she had her conclusion and determined to find proof that would seem to support her bias, even if she had to lie and misrepresent the games she spoke about. For example, there was a video clip she showed of a woman tied up on train tracks with a train approaching, but what she excluded was that the whole scene was satire, where the game poked fun at that old plot-line from western movies of the 1930′s. The conductor spotted her, hit the breaks, and stopped the train with room to spare, and the scene ended up being funny. Poking fun at an old movie plot trend from the 1930′s is not prejudiced in any way to women.

    Next point: Anita used a lot of old games in her video’s, and yes, a lot of old games, do to size limitations, had rather one-dimensional stories, and the damsel in distress theme was done a lot, but even that was not sexist in any way, because the technology prevented really complicated stories or character development, so the game developers had to make due with what they had and try to produce games that would appeal to the largest audience that they could, and in those early days of video games the majority of gamers were boys, so yes, a majority of those one-dimensional games were designed to target the overwhelmingly male audience. Between technological limitations and audience limitations I find her claims about those games faulty. There are more females into games now, so game developers are trying to appeal to girl gamers more and more, and now they have the technology to do it too, so things are already changing for the better, but Anita ignored ann the evidence that contradicted her assertion and in some cases manufactured evidence to seem to prove it, as I described with Hitman.

    I could go on and on, but the fact of the matter is that her videos were one huge trolling effort against the entire gaming community, so even though their methods of counter-trolling her were stupid, it was inevitable that there would be people to do it because people don’t like being trolled.

    Anyway, I hope some people will read this and see that there is another side here, and Anita Sarkeesian has done everything she can to make sure no one see’s it.

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