Sunday, September 13, 2015

CRES's Thoughts On: Anita Sarkeesian's "Women as Reward" video (Cont.) or How Every Single Gameplay Mechanic is Designed to Objectify Women

Men are Entitled to see Samus without her Suit on. Your point is?
Previously, I covered the first half of Anita Sarkeesian's Women as Reward video where we learned that, according to Anita, it's sexist if women are wearing too little clothing in ending cinematics, it's sexist for women to show any kind of affection toward the playable characters, it's sexist if women are wearing too little clothing in hidden scenes that require player skill to view, it's sexist if women have any sort of Easter Egg associated with them within the game, and it's sexist if women are wearing too little clothing as alternate costumes. Oh and it is perfectly alright for any of these things to apply to men because if it happens to men it's not sexist because how Anita defines sexism allows for that little double standard. Anyway, it's now time to tackle the rest of Anita's video starting with "Women as Experience Points"

Killing loads of dudes. Okay. Banging two chicks. NOT okay.
In this section Anita focuses on four games in particular, Conan, God of War (ANY of them), Grand Theft Auto V, and The Witcher III. In each game, "Women" are tied to the acquisition of experience points. You get Red Orbs in Conan for rescuing half naked chicks (Who then request to have sex with Conan because why not), God of War gives you Red Orbs for completing their sex minigames that EVERYONE knows about, GTAV gives you a boost to your Stamina for having sex with a prostitute, and the Witcher gives you experience for having sex with a Courtesan (which she put into quotations in her transcript for some reason). Anita claims this is a problem because players are only suppose to look at these women as a means of gratifying their own masculinity by having a video game character have sex with virtual women (which only makes it sound more lonely and pathetic if you say it out loud), and by being rewarded with XP for doing so. Anita Says
Note that, while the consumption of women makes male characters more powerful it has nothing to do with mutual relationship building. The “relationship,” such as it is, ends with sex, or rescuing the woman. At that point, she has served her purpose. Players have reaped the benefits and her value has been depleted. Like an empty energy drink container, she is simply cast aside after being consumed.
Does that sound familiar? That's because this ENTIRE SECTION is just a retreading of her arguments in the "Women as Background Decoration," two entire videos that can be summed up with "Females NPCs have no depth, and there should NEVER be any sex workers in any video games EVER). And again, like in the "Women as Background Decoration" video, the counter argument remains the same. See, three of these games are considered "Dark Fantasies" or "Low Fantasies" and are dark, gritty, brutal versions of the more Tolkien "High Fantasy." One of the elements of "Dark Fantasies" is that life is horrible, you can die at any moment because the world large doesn't care for you and the only rule of law is might makes right. Conan, God of War, and the Witcher are all "Dark Fantasies" and in these worlds the only way for some women to survive is to offer their bodies in exchange for compensation (either as gold or security). You can argue that this is sexist, but that is just the world that these games create and the designers are not passing any judgment on the morality of such a world. They are merely presenting it as an environment the player must navigate. Adding experience points to the acts of saving half naked women or having sex with them, is merely a method of guiding the players actions so that they are in line with the personality of the character they are playing as. Notice how in each of these games you are not playing as a faceless protagonist but rather as a full character with their own motivations. Now Grand Theft Auto on the other hand is a game about the criminal underworld and the darker side of modern day society. And one of those elements is prostitutes.

Speaking of prostitutes, Anita bitches that there is no "relationship" between these characters, only sex......... Well DUH! They are having sex with prostitutes NOT THEIR SIGNIFICANT OTHER! It's a business transaction, and once the sex is over the transaction is complete. Yeah, the man casts aside the woman once the sex is done, but then again the WOMAN also casts aside THE MAN! She is just as uninterested about building a relationship as the man, yet why is it the MAN that is the bad guy here?

Does ANYONE remember this game?
Anita FINALLY gets back to some original content when she talks about "Women as Collectibles" and once again we are only looking at a handful of titles. This time the Splatterhouse reboot, Mafia 2, the original Witcher, and Metal Gear Solid 4. With the first three games it's pretty much the same argument, you can collect photos of naked women. That's it. Okay, in Splatterhouse you find pictures of Rick's captured girlfriend Jennifer ripped up and scattered throughout the Splatterhouse, an obvious representation of happier times in the couple's life and the fact that they are nude photos is obviously both the old horror trope of combining gore with sex as well as invasion of their intimate lives by this horrible entity. In Mafia 2, it's a series of ACTUAL Playboy photoshoots from the '50s which adds a small touch of realism to the world. And finally we have the Witcher which gives you a playing card with a naked woman on it for each sexual conquest you have achieved. And lastly in MGS4 you can equip a playboy either for Snake to look through (which you can go into First Person view to also see what he's looking at) OR leave it on the ground for soldiers, who are dumb enough to be fooled by a cardboard box, to be distracted by it allowing Snake to sneak pass or take the guard out without any trouble. But what does Anita thinks? That players are suppose to spend so much of their game time just looking at these photos. Seriously, she drives this point in over:
...The discovered magazines are then stored in the game’s inventory and are available to be perused at the player’s whim....
And over:
...Players can look through the images at their leisure...
And OVER again:
 ...these pornographic collectibles are saved in the player’s inventory and are available to be ogled at anytime...
My GOD, what does she think gamers DO while playing games? She really makes it sound like the majority of playtime in these games are solely dedicated at looking at these pictures with players going, "YEAH! I have conquered these women! And LOOK I can look at these woman any time I want! I am so manly right now!" You know, instead of actually PLAYING the game or just going on the internet to find free porn. Seriously, these collectibles are bad ONLY because they have naked ladies the player can look at. In an M rated game. This argument makes no sense at all.

Play Station Trophies. The most Sexist thing in existence.
However... Unfortunately, "Women as Collectibles" which should really be "Pictures of Women as Collectibles" is not the DUMBEST thing in this video. No, instead we also have "Women as Achievements".... Anita begins to talk about Microsoft's "Achievements" and Sony's "Trophies" and how they are visible to everyone as serve as a "status symbols for gamers." And of course, there are Achievements and Trophies tied to actions that involve at least one woman. So, of course it's sexist! Yes, the console reward system that changes NOTHING IN THE GAME! And is primarily used to give gamers a greater sense of accomplishment and encourages players to play their game in skillful or unorthodox ways or explore every nook and cranny of the game world, is a tool for sexism because some games give you Achievements or Trophies for sexual content with women.

So once again we go back to God of War, because every single game in the series that has been released after Sony has set up Trophies has a Trophy for finding and completing the sex minigame in each game. And for that Anita has this little gem to say:
Just so we’re clear on what’s happening here, players are receiving a literal trophy for “achieving sex” with a woman.
For a woman who says that she spends months on her videos so that every word is carefully selected so that there is no way a counterargument can be made against her, you apparently don't know what the word LITERAL means. No Anita, when I get to that sex scene in God of War, a woman doesn't appear right in front of me so that she we can have sexual intercourse, and my Play Station 4 doesn't materialize an actual Trophy to give me for my efforts! So no, Players are NOT receiving a LITERAL trophy for "achieving sex," you dunce.
Let me emphasize that the problem here is not necessarily that sex is included in these games.
These “trophy women” then serve as a way for men to assert their social status among and relative to other men.
I'm PRETTY SURE, that most gamers don't go on Xbox Live to measure their gaming cock against the Gamerscore of other players, let alone go through their achievement list to find the handful of games that give you an achievement for banging a woman, just to count how many times this person's "virtual sexual conquests." Seriously, the way Anita makes it sound is that Achievements and Trophies are SOLELY given out for dominating female characters. BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!

Apparently, being against Bravely Default's Censorship is just male entitlement...Huh?
Because Sony was originally going to name their Trophy system Entitlements, this gives Anita a perfect transition to talk about MALE Entitlement, because that is the problem that this ENTIRE trope creates. That by giving men "Women as Rewards" we are either fostering or reinforcing a sense of male entitlement. Apparently, by giving us Trophies and Achievements for various acts that involve a woman (and ANY act that involves a woman because it doesn't just have to be sex) makes men believe that in the real world we can just demand things from woman just because we are men. Anita also think that gamer revolts against developers for certain decisions are just examples of male entitlement. In the most frustrating example of this, Anita shows the cover to Bravely Default and says:
Angry backlash from straight male players also materializes when Western releases of Japanese games place women in slightly less revealing outfits, or increase the age of young sexualized female characters to 18.
Okay.... Okay.... Okay... I've played Bravely Default, and I didn't know about the changes made to the Western release until after I've beaten it and saw "Did You Know Gaming" Five Facts video about censorship. Now, how Anita put it makes it sound like gamers, particularly straight male gamers as she so painstakingly clarified, where angry because they could not put under age "SEXUALIZED" girls into more revealing outfits... Anita, this is an example of why people find it hard to belief that you are in ANY WAY a gamer, because the backlash wasn't because gamers wanted to objectify underage female bodies, it was because gamers don't like CENSORSHIP!

For SEVERAL years Western gamers have had to deal with Japanese video games being changed and censored because Publishers didn't want to "offend" us or because they need to be changed to cater to our tastes. Some games NEVER made it over the ocean because they where considered "Inappropriate." The most extreme example would be the original Persona, which had MASSIVE changes to make it more Western and even removed an entire quest line because of it's content. Persona 2 Innocent Sin never made it over initially because at one point in the game you are fighting Hitler. Shin Megami Tensei, one of the biggest RPG names in modern gaming, NEVER saw the light of day in the West for several years.

So when Bravely Default was going to have some changes made, people where afraid that this would result in a poorer product. Something less than what the original vision of the game was. In fact, some people when they learned about the changes where more accepting, others where still against it but not because they wanted to put a 17 year old Agnes and a 15 year old Edea in a more revealing Bravo Bikini rather because they are against the idea of censorship. And finally, THESE characters are sexualized!? SERIOUSLY!

Seriously, Anita's Definition of Sexualized is getting REALLY stretched.
Anita goes on and on about how rewarding players with female character using gameplay mechanics or achievements and trophies is creating a negative impact about how men treat woman in the real world. And she talks about this at great length but never does one really important thing when making such a causal argument: Present EVIDENCE! At no point in her video does she validate anything she says with evidence supporting her conclusion. NOT ONCE, is there mention of a study or research or anything that would at LEAST point to the premise that ANYTHING she has talked about has ANY real life ramifications. And that is the point of her entire video series. That these things that are suppose to be bad for female representation in video games, create negative effects in the real world. But there is nothing to even suggest that is true, and Anita doesn't provide any evidence. And so this ENTIRE video can be cut thanks to Hitchen's Razor:
"What can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence." -Christopher Hitchens
 Now, true I could have said this at the beginning and saved us ALL a lot of trouble, but I still feel that it is necessary to show why, even IF she had some research the effects of Woman as Reward on Male Entitlement, her entire premise is fundamentally flawed as she doesn't understand the games she critiques nor does she understand the gamers she claims to be speaking on the behalf of. I can only hope that we are seeing the downward spiral of a woman who has spouted off nonsense for 3 years and have nothing to show for it.

The SOURCE of the Insanity:

Until Next Time.

-CRES, thank you Armored Skeptic for creating this, and Sargon of Akkad for sharing.


  1. anita made a follow up vid about dlc

    1. I'm surprised she could make another video within a month. Doesn't she need at least half a year to "research" the next topic?

    2. You deal with a person who use her own hard drive as source in her report to the UN about cyber-violence:

    3. Well now we know how "In depth" her research is: "Citation= [Blank]."

    4. There is worst using as source Lyndon LaRouche a man who believe litteraly women are the devil and Nintendo-style games like Pokémon are turning young boys into "killing zombies"

    5. It's official, I've lost all hope for humanity. I thought we would be doomed by something cooler like a global pandemic, the robot uprising, a giant meteor, or the demon apocalypse. But no, we are doomed by dumb people telling stupid people what to do.

      Also, at least get it right. Pokemon promotes animal abuse and Evilution, not Killing Zombies. You get the Killing Zombies from playing Doom.