How games' lazy storytelling uses rape and violence against women as wallpaper

Anna Sarkeesian's brilliant, crowdfunded Tropes vs Women in Video Games web-series (previously) has a new episode, Women as Background Decoration: Part 2 [TW: rape, sexual violence, violence], which expertly dissects the use of violence against women, especially sexual violence as a lazy means of establishing skimpy motivations for player characters to hunt down the baddies.

As Sarkeesian points out, you may get a mission to hunt down a brutal pimp, but you'll never get a mission to get the hooker he's just beaten to a pulp to the hospital, nor do you unlock achievements by visiting her at a shelter or helping her get re-established elsewhere. These women exist solely to be victimized, so that you can murder the bad guys without any scruple.

A warning to those headed for the comments: Sarkeesian is a lightning rod for misogynists and their apologists, and the discussions that follow her mentions tend to be dominated by loud-mouthed pleading to understand that the embedded and violent sexism in games is OK because reasons, mixed with baseless ad hominem slurs against Sarkeesian herself.

You can be a fan of something problematic (cf Lovecraft's racism), because art can be both moving and also contain messages you dislike (see Kessel on Ender's Game, for example), and you don't do yourself, the art, or the world any service by establishing and defending huge zone-of-denial rather than confronting the whole work, warts and all.

(via Skepchick)

Notable Replies

  1. The only people linking these two things together are gamers who are unwilling to take a truly critical look at the pablum they're being served in modern gaming.

    And in this thread, that's you, buddy.

    Sarkesian's videos, and Corey's intro both state that there's nothing wrong with enjoying these games. But you're quick to link a video that equates her to Jack Thompson.

    The idea behind this commentary is to wake people up so they can start demanding better storylines, which will improve the art form. Every art form is open to this type of criticism, and every artform benefits from it.

  2. Mutants, please tone down the anger. The discussion and semantics are important. But the nit picking about arguments is missing the forest.

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