Feminist Frequency released a new episode of its Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series today, seen above, and it leads with a controversial question: Are women too hard to animate?
Host and media critic Anita Sarkeesian asks this rhetorically as a way to explore the lack of female representation within multiplayer games’ character options, as well as the standard enemy types found within many action titles. Developers have long come off as apathetic about gender inclusion, Sarkeesian says, with series such as Call of Duty taking a decade to start giving players the choice to play as a woman.
Among other games explored in the video are Assassin’s Creed Unity, whose creative director told Polygon at E3 2014 that female assassins were left out of the game due to "extra production work." That was an argument refuted by a former Ubisoft animator, who told us that animating women would take maybe "a day or two’s work."
"Unfortunately, when female combatants do appear in games, they are often presented in sexualized ways which inevitably lend the player’s attacks an air of gendered violence," Sarkeesian says later in the video. Games like Metal Gear Solid 4 and Saints Row: The Third are highlighted for their female fighters whose attacks are defined by their sexuality.
Although games are getting better about bringing non-sexualized women to the forefront, including the Assassin’s Creed series, there’s still more work to be done. Women may now get to be the heroes, but it’s time to start seeing them as the enemies, too, Sarkeesian explains.
"There is still a tendency for game studios to treat female representation as some kind of extravagant goal, rather than simply treating it as standard in the same way they handle male representation," she says.
Tropes vs. Women has explored various issues of female representation in its first two seasons. Season two is set to continue throughout the year, and Feminist Frequency’s next video series, Ordinary Women, is currently in production.