The Mystery and Fraud of Tropes vs Men in Videogames
Stephen Beirne investigates the mystery and fraud of the ‘Tropes vs Men in Videogames’ IndieGoGo.
You probably remember from May of last year the Tropes versus Women in Videogames campaign launched on Kickstarter by Feminist Frequency. A few weeks into funding, controversy erupted overnight at the mere thought that such a project might exist, amidst which a small group of fellows decided to organize a Tropes versus Men in Videogames campaign on Indiegogo in June by way of a retort.
While the Tropes versus Women in Videogames project asked for $6000, Tropes versus Men requested $3000 – both admittedly relatively small sums. However, two important distinctions lay in the scope and intent of the projects on closure of their respective funding deadlines: Tropes versus Women received nearly $160,000 which was to go towards a greatly expanded series than initially proposed, while Tropes versus Men only just managed to pass their initial goal, the majority of which was promised to go to various charities. The reason given for this was the not-so-subtle slight against Feminist Frequency that nobody needs such large amounts of money to make simple Youtube videos. Similarly-tuned digs against feminists were easy to spot throughout the campaign’s proposal.
So how stands each project now? After almost a year of updates and extra-curricular activities, the first video of Feminist Frequency’s project is to finally be released this Thursday the 7th.
Meanwhile, Tropes versus Men (or, as it’s also known, “An analysis of male roles and misandry present in modern video game media”) has disappeared without a trace. During the month of February the campaign was put under review by the site’s administration, although I am told the more detailed reasons are available only to the campaign’s organisers.
Since the page is now removed, it is difficult to show as proof the project’s lack of progression over the past year. In December, I tried contacting the organisers on the email address advanced by the campaign to inquire into the project’s status. It had been six months by then that the project had gone without any update, the last one mentioning a snag but still promising the charity donations as upcoming. I received no reply.
Nevertheless I managed to track down one of the organisers to a twitter account. Here I was assured that the money had been donated, but an assertion that the campaign had been updated on the matter conflicted with the evidence. As you can see, further enquiries on that matter proved fruitless.
Perhaps what he was referring to was this Tropes vs Men Steam group which links to the Indiegogo page and claims various updates on the project. An announcement in October notes that the videos are still in production, while a November update titled “Dosh Donated” simply links to a picture supposedly of confirmations of donations to three different charities:
(It’s worth noting that barring two announcements titled “Money Donated Bitches” and “Get The Fuck In Chat” there has been no further update on the project’s progression to this date.)
Piqued by the recent disappearance of the campaign and knowing full well the habit of some Tropes vs Women detractors to photoshop materials to suit their needs, I contacted the charities to check the veracity of these claims. As of publishing I have heard back from only one of the charities, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, who informed me that a donation of that amount on that date does not exist in their system. To be fully sure they would need the affiliation that the donations were made through, at which I can only guess, but the representative seemed confident that the claims were fake and suggested their attorney would send a cease and desist to the people involved.
I tried to contact the project again to enquire into their side of the matter but have received nothing by way of a reply. We will update this if anything changes.
If true, this is a curious development. Many vocal opponents of Tropes vs Women in Videogames leaned heavily on the conjecture that Anita Sarkeesian had run away with the dough, despite all evidence to the contrary throughout production. That the video series launched as a counterpoint to feminist criticism would prove to be a blatant scam seems almost too ironic to be true.
And yet, the campaign’s page has been put under review after the best part of a year without any update or evidence of progression; the organisers have apparently long since retreated from the page to a Steam group; claims of donations have severe doubt cast upon them by one of the supposedly recipient charities; the project team remains silent when questioned. All in all, it’s quite damning for the folks responsible for the Tropes vs Men in Videogames campaign.