What’s Going On With Feminist Frequency’s Tropes vs. Women In Video Games?

Anita Sarkeesian

Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs. Women in Video Games Kickstarter project has been making the waves in recent months, sparking some particularly nasty attacks against her person, which in turn drove many would-be supporters to back up her project. For their efforts, the project earned upwards of $150,000.

Understandably, this development has since caused Sarkeesian to switch gears by lengthening its timeframe and expanding the scope of the project. She posted an update (readable by backers only) on July 22, the relevant portion of which reads as follows:

“We anticipate the launch of our first Tropes vs Women video in late fall or early winter and we’ll be kicking off the series with the Damsel in Distress video!”

Additionally, Sarkeesian mentioned in the July 22 update her plans to launch a “Best/Worst Female Characters in Video Games” survey for backers to answer. Far from being a request for her backers to do her job for her, the survey was intended to be used in the documentary series as simply that—a survey.

Despite the informative update, a backer named “Michael” went “public” with the “revelation” that Sarkeesian had failed to deliver anything by the project’s original August 2012 date. Instead of asking her privately or using Kickstarter to inquire about the status of the project, “Michael” went onto Twitter and Reddit to complain about Sarkeesian’s lack of updates in the form of a JPEG which since went viral.

Some information from the ShitRedditSays post chronicling the debacle helps us to identify what happened:

A post titled “Not only has "Tropes vs Women in Video Games" failed to meet its due date, Anita Sarkeesian is asking her backers to do her work disguised as a survey” goes up on r/gaming, earning over 2036 (as of this post) upvotes. The post uses a picture “Michael” used to attack Sarkeesian on Twitter earlier in the day.

With typical class, one of the earliest, and highest voted posts attempts to compare Anita Sarkeesian and feminists to the KKK.

“I had to look up what this was all about. Interesting idea I guess but having skimmed some of the stuff she has been doing I'm…less than impressed.
I wonder how much experience with quantitative analysis she has?
I would imagine that only polling the people who back the project artificially narrows the kind of responses they will get, like asking only klan members about NAACP.”

The posts that follow link to the YouTube rants made by other anti-Sarkeesian “activists” who attempt to debunk her videos by calling her out as a “liar” or someone simply “unfamiliar with video games” because her opinions on such nuanced games like Bayonetta differ from their own.

Blah blah blah.

It’s been several days since the post on Reddit went up and slightly longer since “Michael” created the JPEG that launched a thousand misogynists. Perhaps feeling guilty about the shitstorm he created, “Michael” has since posted an apology on the Tropes vs. Women Kickstarter feedback page saying it was never his intention to troll Sarkeesian or the project, and that he wants to “do his best” to undo the opening of Pandora’s Box.

In response, Anita Sarkeesian has posted a long and detailed reply calling him out on his bullshit. An excerpt:

Now let's clear up a few things. That screen-capture you took was shared on specific gaming boards hours *before* you posted anything on twitter. I was sent documentation of this from other backers and have screenshots with timestamps. Additionally, you didn't actually ask me a question on twitter, instead you posted a random accusatory message full of unfounded assumptions and misinformation reading, "Not only has @femfreq failed to meet her first due date, she's asking her backers to do her work disguised as a survey" (https://twitter.com/theLEOpirate/status/242750796310130689) which included your screenshot of our private backers update. Then *after* that your screenshot appeared on Reddit accompanied by the text from your tweet. It's beyond me how anyone in their right mind could think that any of this would be an appropriate way to ask a question. More baffling is how you could possibly fail to see how it would be problematic or alarming.

I know it might be hard for you to accept but I'm doing this project out of love for gaming as a medium and a strong desire to see games and the industry realize their amazing potential. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to work, these video games aren't going to play themselves.

As it stands, the project remains in development, and if you have any questions, you’re absolutely free to contact Sarkeesian at any time.

Let this be a lesson in not jumping on a bandwagon the next time you see one rolling by.