During the litany of problematic episodes concerning games’ representations of women in 2012, one incident really stood out.
Anita Sarkeesian took to Kickstarter to fund a documentary series in which she planned to explore the various tropes of the ways women were used in games.
What ensued was an abundance of support for the project, alongside some of the most vitriolic hate the industry had managed to muster towards one target, with death threats, beat-em-up flash games of Anita herself and relentless derogatory comments, not to mention the hacking.
The shameful response to the Kickstarter campaign led to Sarkeesian’s campaign receiving more coverage than she likely ever would have expected, and with the project receiving almost USD$160’000. The original amount sought was USD$6000.
What followed was a heightened sensitivity to issues concerning women in videogames, with excuses no longer being considered good enough for the likes of the Hitman nuns trailer, Borderlands 2 ‘girlfriend mode‘ comment, Crystal Dynamics’ comment that people wanted to ‘protect‘ Lara Croft, and much more besides.
Today, the first video in the Anita Sarkeesian documentary is live on YouTube (with comments disabled for obvious reasons), which takes us through the history of one of the most common tropes in videogames: the Damsel in Distress.
It’s an important occasion not only because it’s another good example of a gaming-related Kickstarter delivering on its promise, but also because it’s now possible to see what the dastardly threat to gaming actually is (that being an informative and interesting documentary to give our medium some cultural context – pure evil, I know).
You can check out the full 25 minute documentary below. It’s worth watching the whole episode in full. The eye-opening history lesson alone is worth your time.