Media critic Anita Sarkeesian's group Feminist Frequency has released the first video planned in its "Tropes vs Women in Video Games" series, examining the story trope of the Damsel in Distress.
The 23-minute video begins with a look at the use of the trope in broader fiction before moving on to games, covering series like The Legend of Zelda, The Prince of Persia, and naturally the Mario series, with oft-kidnapped Princess Peach.
"Tropes vs Women in Video Games" was at the center of a media storm last year, when Sarkeesian took to Kickstarter seeking $6,000 to produce a video series that would examine what she saw as the problematic portrayal of female characters in gaming. The Kickstarter provoked a sizable backlash among some elements of the gaming community, which itself provoked criticism and accusations of sexism and misogyny. Ultimately, Sarkeesian raised $158,922, many times the $6,000 that was the project's original goal.
"When we chose the Damsel in Distress as the first video in our series we thought we might find 50 or 75 games using the trope, instead we found several hundred," wrote Sarkeesian to backers on Kickstarter. "The Damsel in Distress turns out to be one of the most widely used gendered clichés in the history of gaming and has been core to the popularization and development of the medium itself. Because of this fact we’ve decided to break the trope into multiple videos."
This first video focuses on the trope's use in classic games, while subsequent videos will examine its use in modern games as well as developers and games that attempt to play with or subvert it.
Sarkeesian says future videos will cover topics like the "Sexy Sidekick," "Sexy Villainess," "Mrs. Male Character" and "Women as Reward," to name a few.