Although self-described feminist pop culture critic Anita Sarkeesian has abandoned her Tropes vs Women in Video Games project, she hasn’t stopped exerting her influence over an apparently enthralled games industry.
Writing on May 19, 2017, James Batchelor of industry publication Gamesindustry.biz reported on Sarkeesian’s speech at the 2017 Nordic Game conference, an annual event that describes itself as “the leading games conference in Europe”.
Sarkeesian’s 45-minute speech was called “Diversity is Not a Checklist”, and, broadly speaking, was an exhortation to the industry to better represent the diversity of its audience through playable characters, and to tell stories that “recognise the systemic oppression” that women and “people of colour” face.
Not, in itself, a bad topic to explore — though as we’ll discuss in a moment, it disregards one of the key reasons many people turn to video games as entertainment and represents just a single perspective. The main problem is, as with much of Sarkeesian’s previous work, her lack of knowledge and awareness regarding the industry outside the most high-profile parts of the Western triple-A and “in-crowd” indie spheres undermines a great many of her arguments. And, unsurprisingly, Batchelor does not take the opportunity to analyse her remarks in his report, instead simply parroting them uncritically.
Enough is enough. It’s time the industry stopped hanging on Anita Sarkeesian’s every word — or at least started thinking about the things she is saying a little more critically, and researching her claims rather than accepting them at face value. Here are 13 reasons why.