In response to my Ms. Male Character video someone made this clever image illustrating what “female as default” might look like. Because we live in a strongly male-identified society the idea of Pac-Woman as the “unmarked” default and Mr. Pac-Woman as the deviation “marked” with masculinizing gender signifiers feels strange and downright absurd. While Pac-man and the deviation Ms. Pac-Man seems completely normal in our current cultural context.
Our latest episode of Tropes vs Women in Video Games focuses on the Ms. Male Character trope and briefly discusses a related pattern called the Smurfette Principle. You can watch, share and “like” it on YouTube now!
1991 Japanese commercial for Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past featuring a female Link.
"Did you know that Link is a girl? She’s a high school student we found through our audition. Link, the hero of The Legend of Zelda, is male, but when we were thinking about how to put it into live action we decided a boyish-looking girl would be better than a real boy." — Yoshiaki Kuratsune, creative director
I showed my mom Anita Sarkeesian’s Ted Talk and it reminded me to do this little comic I have been meaning to finish for weeks.
When I reached the Wheatley/GLaDoS switch in Portal 2, I was really hit with a lot of weird emotion, because I realized that it was really the first time Chell was talked about in third person, and the first time I’d really heard the game refer to her (and by extension, me) with lady pronouns (aside from the curiosity core’s brief “oh! you’re the lady from the test!”)
And I really felt the full effect of playing a non-sexualized game without any inherently gendered roles, costumes, or traits where, even though I wasn’t playing a character designed for cishet dudes to look at and enjoy, I still got to be a girl by default. I didn’t have to specify. I didn’t have to select any sort of gender box or a (very rare) playable girl character. I just got to be a girl. I wasn’t an outsider in this game, a rebel playing something meant for boys. I was playing something meant for me. I had a goddamn unisex jumpsuit and got to bounce around on abandoned science experiments, facing down an evil lady robot who was not a super sexy!fem!bot, and later teaming up with her to take down a common dude threat.
GLaDoS called me “she.” And it was awesome.
Character from Legend of the Last Princess, a not-real game story idea thought up by Anita Sarkeesian as part of her ongoing Tropes VS Women series of Feminist Frequency. I have no plans of turning it into a real game, but decided it would be a funny idea to make the character in RPG maker RTP style! Watch her series on her youtube channel, including the thought experiment that inspired this sprite.
There is a “before” variation, and a hooded version, and those two versions are both heavily edited from the RTP. The hooded version is pretty much the hooded person from the RTP with her face chucked in it, but it works. As usual, there’s also a recolour.
I’m still practicing how to draw RTP style. The last faceset expression is blank, so you can draw your own expressions on. Have fun!
These sprites are free to use, edit, and redistribute with credit. Credit me under the name SLEEP and/or the url of this blog. Since these are inspired by a character invented by somebody else, these cannot be used commercially.
I can’t control what people do with the sprites, and I generally like to see people use my creations as springboards for their own creativity. But please use these sprites in good faith, and with respect to Sarkeesian and her intentions for her character! Thanks.
These sprites are incredible, I love them!
There are now over 400 negative response videos on YouTube directed at my Tropes vs Women in Video Games series. Almost all of them are overflowing with misrepresentations of my arguments, logical fallacies, ad hominem attacks or appeals to biological determinism.
A YouTube user named Char42 has taken the time to respond to one of the more patronizing and nonsensical of these attack videos by methodically deconstructing many of the fallacious arguments regularly repeated by my detractors.
I made the mistake of reading some of the comments below a video on YouTube about sexism in video games last night. Admittedly never a good idea. The video is Do Gamers Need Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminism? from the PBS Game/Show channel which answers that question with a “YES” and also touches on Carolyn Petit’s recent GameSpot review of GTA 5. Predictably many of the 2500+ comments below the video look to have descended into a festering cesspool of misogynist bile. The general sentiment of the detractors in the comment section is exemplified perfectly by the above user.
Sadly this user is not just one bad apple but is symptomatic of a larger pervasive problem online. I have messages exhibiting similar attitudes sent to me daily.
Really enjoying the musical levels in Rayman Legends. Wish there were more of them!