FeministFrequency is a Youtube channel created and hosted by Anita Sarkeesian. The videos they make are commentaries on gender representation in popular media, for the most part, video games.
Sarkeesian has received a lot of negative criticism over the years because of her inaccuracies, her use of other people’s footage, without asking permission to use it, in her videos and the fact that she has disabled comments and ratings on all videos.
25 Invisible Benefits of Gaming While Male is a video based on the article, “Playing with privilege: the invisible benefits of gaming while male” by Jonathan McIntosh who is one of the producers for the channel. It is about the ‘luxuries’ the male gamers all have.
I saw this video a while ago and recently decided to show it to one of my friends who, like me is a gamer. I wanted to see if any of the things Anita Sarkeesian talks about ring true for him as a male gamer. We paused after each point to discuss it to see if we agreed or disagreed with both the video and each other.
I am fully aware of male privilege in the world, however, I also believe that different aspects of your life depend on your privilege and how they work together. Calling this list the ‘concrete benefits that male gamers automatically receive simply for being male gamers’ is inaccurate. You don’t know what genre of game they’re playing or if they’re playing online or alone. The video game community has also grown and changed a lot in the past few years so how relevant this video is, or will be a year or two from now is debatable.
We went through the points in the video, one by one, pausing after each one to discuss it.
One: Anyone can choose to be oblivious to harassment. It’s also not just women who get harassed. I personally have never been harassed whereas my friend has.
Two: Again, I have never been told this, when I’ve said to people that I like video games, most people have been positive and the rest haven’t cared. My friend on the other hand has been told this for some of the games he plays.
Three: I have never had experience of people doing this to me or any of my female friends so I’m not really scared of posting my gamer tag anywhere. My friend is a very open person and likes to meet people so he said that the same is mostly true, although any fear comes from homophobic harassment, not gender related.
Four: I have been asked this before but not for a long time. This was true of 4/5 years ago, but not any more. My friend said he’s been asked to prove his gamer cred and has been shot down for playing a game a ‘girly’ way or not conforming to gender stereotypes. But again, he says that things are changing and that hasn’t happened for a while
Five: I have never had this, ever. People have assumed that the reason I was into games was I was dating a gamer at the time, but they never assumed I was faking interest. My friend said he had never had this either.
Six:This one we both agreed with. There are very few women who are prevalent in the video game industry.
Seven: This can happen at cons but it can also happen to men. My friend and I know people of all genders who have been groped or harassed at a convention including ourselves. However the event staff are very good at dealing with it at the events we have attended and have a zero tolerance policy for it. Their policy is gender neutral so no matter what gender you are or what gender your harasser is, they will deal with it equally
Eight: We just didn’t think this was true
Nine: I have experienced this minorly, but not for about 4/5 years. I had some online players impressed that a girl had won the match we were playing. I didn’t feel marginalised for it though, I felt like I was beating the stereotype and proving that it shouldn’t exist. My friend has had this on a few occasions.
Ten: I’m assuming they mean my hormones… I can safely say it’s never affected my gaming experience either my playing or people talking to me. My friend however said that people had insulted him about a lack of testosterone.
Eleven: The only times my opinions about video games have been dismissed by anyone is because the person I was talking to didn’t care about the video game. It was because the topic wasn’t interesting to them, not because I’m female. My friend has been attacked for his tone of voice, but he said it was related to sexuality not gender
Twelve: I’ve felt this pressure before, but not for 4/5 years. As with most of this list, I think this point is becoming less and less relevant as years go on. My friend said that he had experienced people saying that because he didn’t like ‘manly games’ that people had told him he wasn’t a gamer but the stereotype he felt was being enforced was the ‘camp gay guy who likes girly things’.
Thirteen: I’ve bought a variety of games in store and have never been asked this. More often than not, the cashier and I will have a discussion about similar games and give recommendations to each other. I am always treated as an equal by them. My friend has had this because he does not fit into the stereotypical male gamer profile.
Fourteen: This one we both agreed with to a certain extent. There are very few women who are prevalent in the video game industry and many games are targeted towards a certain demographic. But when an industry picks a target audience, that is not their sole audience. Especially when selling a product, a company wants to sell as many as they can so they market it towards the group they think is most likely to buy it. If people outside that group buy it then that’s a bonus for them. Although target markets in the video game feed into gender stereotypes, they have never been harmful to me or my friend. If we want a game, we don’t worry about if we fit their target demographic, we look at the quality of the game.
Fifteen: I want to interject with a list of female protagonists/supporting sides/villains from the past few years:
Lara Croft from Tomb raider
Nilin, Olga, Scylla and Madame from Remember me
Ellie, Tess, Sarah and Riley from The Last of Us
Elena, Marlowe and Chloe from the Uncharted series
Bayonetta from the Bayonetta series
Jade from Beyond Good and Evil
Farah, Elika, Kaileena and Shadee from the Prince of Persia series
Jodie from Beyond Two Souls
Elisabeth from Bioshock Infinite
Faith from Mirror’s edge
Catwoman from Arkham series
Evie, Elise, Aveline, Caterina, Shao Jun, Mary, Lucy, Rebecca, Lucy Thorne and Lydia in the Assassin’s creed series
Purna and Xian Mei from Dead Island
Alex from Half Life
GLADoS and Chell from Portal
Tally, Miranda, Liara, Ashley, Commander Sheppard (Optional), Samara, Morinth, Kasumi, Jack, EDI, Aria, Nyreen, Dr Chakwas and Kelly Chambers from Mass Effect
The warden (optional), Morrigan, Leliana, Wynne, Flemeth, Queen Anora, Mhairi, Velanna, The Mother, Hawke (optional), Bethany, Aveline, Isabella, Merrill, Tallis, Knight-Commander Meredith, Cassandra, The Inquisitor (optional), Vivienne, Sera, Josephine, Dagna, Fiona and Calpernia from the Dragon Age series
Fetch, Trish, Moya, Sasha and Augustine in the Infamous series
Nina from the Secret Files series
Max, Chloe, Kate, Victoria and Joyce from Life is Strange
Yeesha, Catherine and The Stranger (Optional) from the Myst series
Non-playable side character
and these are just from games I’ve played, not counting all of the game of thrones and the walking dead characters that are in the show as well. With the 80+ from 20+ games I have used as an example, it’s hard to argue that there aren’t many games with female representation. There are vastly more video games with men in, but if I wanted to play a game with a female protagonist or supporting lead, I easily could. My friend added many more from games that he had played but I hadn’t. He also commented that it was very genre dependent as in certain genres, there is very little depiction of men.
Sixteen: Again, I think I have shown that there options out there if you want to play as a female lead and some games have a customisable main character so you can choose to be female. It all depends on the game you choose. My friend mentioned some of the games he plays don’t have many options to be a guy.
Seventeen: I’ve never had to do this but my friend has sometimes.
Eighteen: It’s honestly not crossed my mind. My friend however has done this
Nineteen: This is similar to alot of other points but no, not really for me but somewhat for my friend
Twenty: I’ve only been trash talked for my ability to play the game. My friend has been trash talked for his way of playing not corresponding to gender stereotypes.
Twenty One: This has never happened to either of us
Twenty Two: Again, this hasn’t happened to either of us
Twenty Three: And again, this hasn’t happened to us
Twenty Four: We discussed our experiences of talking to others about the topic and came to the conclusion, that even though he is a guy, I am usually taken more seriously for my opinions because they are shared by many women who play video games where as my friend’s opinions are brushed aside because of his sexuality and the type of games he plays.
Twenty Five: We thought people would react to the list virtually the same way if a man or a woman was saying it. Although the guys in this video come off as progressive and aware of their privilege whereas a woman saying it would sound like she was complaining.
The list repeated a lot, many points were the same or very similar. It could have been condensed into 10 or 15 points. Many of the points have vastly improved in the last 5 years and the video game community is becoming a more open, accepting and diverse place. But a lot of gaming is still competitive and people will still trash talk each other, using any difference to put you down.
It excludes sexuality in term of discrimination and makes it sound as though all women face this and all men don’t. Although my friend and I are only two people, we still disprove that hypothesis. I, a female gamer, have experienced many of these benefits whilst gaming, whereas my friend, a gay male gamer, is not privy to many of these benefits because people make assumptions based on or about his sexuality.
None of the things they’re stating have any cited evidence to back them up. When I clicked on the article to see if they were on there, it only had 3 links to articles/posts that inspired his article. When I clicked on them I discovered 2/3 of them didn’t work. The video does have many inaccuracies and could do with revision to correct these. I also think they should revise their language so they aren’t making sweeping generalisations.