Damsels in Distress: Anita Sarkesian on Tropes vs. Women in Video Gaming

Sarkesian Damsels in Distress Part 3


Published on August 1, 2013, this is Anita Sarkesian’s third installment of the three part mini-series exploring the Damsel in Distress trope in video games. In this episode she examines the rare Dude in Distress role reversal and then takes a look at the use of “ironic sexism” in retro inspired indie and mobile games. She concludes with an investigation of some titles that attempt to subvert or deconstruct the traditional damsel narrative.

Sarkesian challenges video game designers to “avoid damselling.” Reversing gender roles or even staging the woman/girl as the protagonist is not good enough, when this still reinforces existing gender roles and representations. And she does not let video gamers away with “ironic sexism” such as the PMS joke in Princess Peach or the “updated boob jiggle” in Spelunky 2012 or Princess What’s her Name in Earhworm Jim (1994). Many of the 48  titles referenced in this episode turn damsels in distress into objects (read targets), and not just narrative ones.  Ths fat joke sustained in the game Fat Princess, in which winning the war depends on feeding the princess, feels even more violent than the usual shooting games. Only 5 of the 48 are tagged as “spoilers” that effectively subvert damselling.  (It feels subversive to turn damsel into a verb.  I learned from this series that damsel is a “portmanteau” word from the French des madamoiselles.)

She points to the gaming potential of adventures that feature mutual aid and cooperation, e.g., Thomas Was Alone (2012). Ultimatley though, she had to invent her own video game concept to subvert the narrative, in The Legend of the Last Princessm which you can also watch on You Tube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZKtFf

Sarkesian Hypothetical Game Concept

~ by artpoped on August 4, 2013.

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