Playing: Forza Horizon 2
If you aren’t familiar with that name you should do yourself a favor and Google it, or better yet visit her website at FeministFrequency.com. Anita started Feminist Frequency in 2009 to shine a light on how women are portrayed in popular culture. Her most recent video series entitled ‘Tropes vs. Women in Video Games’ has received a considerable amount of attention lately both positive and negative. She’s received both praise for her willingness to discuss an issue most often ignored in the gaming community and also death threats from those who view her comments as a threat to the status quo. It’s a hot button issue that has a lot of people talking and a lot of insecure gamers feeling defensive, but they really shouldn’t be. There is nothing controversial about wanting to be treated with dignity and respect.
Everybody should care about this issue because a community that is more friendly and welcoming to everyone is going to be a better, stronger community for all of it’s members. We should be embracing new voices who have an opinion and want to be involved in gaming because with more people of different sexes, races, ages and sexualities comes better and more diverse games. Not to mention it’s just the decent thing to do. There is absolutely no excuse for hostility towards someone just because you may disagree with their opinions. Someone who takes the time and the effort to start a conversation about the issues in gaming (or any media) like Anita has is most likely not doing it because they want to tear down and destroy it. That sounds more like someone who actually cares about games and gamers and wants to see them strive to be better.
It’s also an issue that I care about personally because I have been surrounded by women gamers all of my life. My mother is the one who introduced me to gaming on the Atari 2600 as a child in the 80’s and she still plays at the age of 69. My wife is also a gamer and we’ve spent many evenings playing together. And I have two daughters. This reason more than any other is why I care about the issues that Anita brings up in her series. My 6 year old loves video games and I’m sure her sister will too when she’s older. I want my girls to grow up seeing depictions of women in games other than just as the victim or someone who goes into battle in assless chaps and a thong (seriously Metal Gear, what the hell?).
You don’t have to agree with 100% of the opinions that Anita discusses and all of this isn’t to say that the kind of games we play now need to go away completely. Just that maybe developers should take a second to think about how important it really is to spend so much time and effort on the breast physics in the new Fatal Frame game. Is that really where your attention is best needed? Perhaps it would be worth leaving content like that out to try and appeal to an audience who may be interested in your game but is turned off by its blatant sexism.
I really do think that gaming has come a long way in recent years to being more diverse and creating better and different kinds of content for more people, but it still has a lot further to go if it wants to be a hobby that is welcoming to all. And I hope people like Anita Sarkeesian will always be there to help it along.