If there is one valid complaint about Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs Women in Video Games documentary, it’s that I don’t think anyone really expected the wait between episodes to be 2 whole months. This is a fire that needs to be stoked, often, and remain hot to really hit home, and the delay allows just enough time for the people who should be having this message right up in their faces at all times to dismiss it far too easily.
And it’s a huge disservice, especially as Part 2 in her exploration of Damsels in Distress goes right after modern gaming. While obviously, Sarkeesian’s video focuses on the supremely fucked up portrayal of women, the video hits on something far more universal for this medium, possibly the most valuable wide-sweeping lesson modern gaming could ever learn, which is that more dead folks is NOT a shortcut to maturity. The fact that 98% of the time, it’s a dead woman that’s supposed to spur our heroes to action can’t be ignored, and the video has that covered in spades, but while the examples she uses and just how prolific the trope still is should be nothing short of embarrassing for everyone involved, she also hits paydirt later about violence being the only widely accepted reaction for a man to the death/endangerment of a loved one, with few counterbalances or subtlety in its portrayal*. This sends the video beyond exploring just female treatment in games, but the plague of just lazy, uninspired storytelling, which even she acknowledges is probably more the case than any sort of overt, intended malice towards women.
Not that this will stop anyone who’s already made up their mind that Sarkeesian’s a money-grubbing attention whore who obviously is just out to ruin straight men’s good time from ignoring it anyway, but anyone who can watch that video and think there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the storytelling in a medium that so quickly, reliably, and predictably runs to the dead/mutilated wife well with few variations and no better ideas isn’t just an enemy to women, but an enemy to creativity, full stop. The moral of the story isn’t necessarily “Stop doing this” (though it’d be nice to see the cliche take a fucking break), but “Try harder. A LOT harder.”
Take off the fedoras for a while, Men’s Rights Advocates. Set a spell. You might learn something.
*-She also reminded me I still need to play To The Moon, and so should all of you, but that’s neither here or there.