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Anita Sarkeesian on battling negative tropes with data, “imagining new worlds”
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Anita Sarkeesian on battling negative tropes with data, “imagining new worlds”

by Ctrl,Alt,Delete BotMarch 7, 2019
Bare Knuckle 3 (the Japanese version of Streets of Rage 3) could strike you as either offensive or harmless. But these “queer coded” enemies speak to a larger trend, and Feminist Frequency’s latest video series explores this fact with a deep, data-driven dive into the industry’s largely negative history with queer representation.”>

Enlarge / In isolation, the “leather daddy” enemies in Sega’s Bare Knuckle 3 (the Japanese version of Streets of Rage 3) could strike you as either offensive or harmless. But these “queer coded” enemies speak to a larger trend, and Feminist Frequency’s latest video series explores this fact with a deep, data-driven dive into the industry’s largely negative history with queer representation.

Six years ago, the nonprofit media organization Feminist Frequency debuted its “Tropes Vs. Women in Games” series, a comprehensive look at how the game industry characterized female characters in consistently negative ways. In hindsight, its creator, Anita Sarkeesian, describes that series as “a hit,” and not in the way you might think.

“I don’t mean ‘hit’ like a blockbuster hit, more like an attack hit,” Sarkeesian said in a phone interview with Ars Technica. Her Tropes Vs. Women series became a cornerstone of hateful Internet movements, but the videos’ allegiance to data and research—their bend-over-backward approach to proving points about largely negative portrayals of women in games—has endured. Now, Sarkeesian and her Feminist Frequency colleagues are taking that approach to gaming’s negative LGBTQ trends.

Anybody who has seen a gay stereotype in Grand Theft Auto or heard homophobic slurs in online voice chat may assume that LGBTQ representation in games isn’t very positive. But what if someone tried to catalog the full state of queer representation in games? What happens when a data-first approach goes beyond anecdotal impressions?

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