Skip to main content

This undated handout from Eidos Interactive, shows a screenshot of character Lara Croft in the game "Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness," the sixth title in the "Tomb Raider" series.

AP

Yikes. If you thought the fighting in Grand Theft Auto was messy and brutal, try combatting video game stereotypes.

Anita Sarkeesian, a San Francisco-based feminist pop-culture media critic, is up against an ugly and vicious foe: sexism in the gaming world. Last month, she launched a fundraising campaign on the Kickstarter website, seeking $6,000 (U.S.) in pledges to support her production of a video Web series called Tropes vs Women in Video Games, which explores female stereotypes in the gaming industry. Within 24 hours, she reached her goal, and has since far surpassed it. By Thursday afternoon, she had raised close to $130,000.

Video games are "loads of fun to play," she says in a promotional video. "Unfortunately, ... many games tend to reinforce and amplify sexist and downright misogynist ideas about women." Female characters tend to fit into a handful of clichés, she says – the damsel in distress, the "Fighting F#@k Toy," the sexy sidekick, the sexy villainess, and background decoration.

Story continues below advertisement

It appears that a certain segment of gamers feel strongly that their favourite fictional female figures should stay in those roles. Ms. Sarkeesian has received a startling amount of backlash, ranging from threatening e-mails and social-media messages to what she describes on Kickstarter as "a few more alarming incidents," which she declined to disclose. "These messages and comments have included everything from the typical sandwich and kitchen 'jokes' to threats of violence, death, sexual assault and rape," she wrote.

Jeez.

Ms. Sarkeesian shows no signs of backing down, though. She's vowed to produce even more stereotype-busting videos with the inflow of funds. And in spite all the vitriol, comments from her supporters – both male and female – suggest she's not in this fight alone.

A sampling:

  • “Donating a dollar simply for the privilege of being able to thank you on behalf of my 11-yo son, who is a budding gamer and frequently bemoans the sexism of the games he plays. The oft-stated excuse that sexism in video games is what (male) players want is a disservice to male gamers as well as to female ones.”
  • “You're fantastic for doing this. I can’t wait to see what you come up with, and in the meantime, thank you for your bravery and perseverance through the flood of intolerance. It’s inspiring.”

Gamers, have you noticed or been bothered by gender stereotypes in the games you play?

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter