Damsel in Distress

Anita Sarkeesian is a media critic and the creator of Feminist Frequency, a video webseries that explores the representations of women in pop culture narratives. Last year she began a Kickstarter campaign to fund a new series about a trope widely used in videogames: the Damsel in Distress.

In three videos she gives lots of examples of females characters preventing to be heroes themselves. They are not only weak but also incapable to resolve situations on their own. Classic games like Mario and Zelda to modern titles as God of War or Dead Space have abused this pattern over and over.

Anita’s point is that games don’t exist in a vacuum: they are influential. They could be a justification for the existing domestic violence against woman worldwide, it is a problem not to trivialize. At least, the industry should try not to reinforce regressive attitudes.

However, we can also find examples of sophisticated games. Some indie developers are exploring matters as loss or death in another ways, like Passage or To the Moon. She also mentions that some game designers are aware of this trope, most of them just try to make fun of it, but others try to fix the problem giving the damsel a strong opinion where she doesn’t want to get rescued ( Monkey Island, Braid ).

Hopefully it will improve, but we definitively have a problem in this industry: not many games present smart female characters nowadays. Anita mentions Beyond Good and Evil and I would add some Bioware games (Mass Effect, Dragon Age).

I personally think part of the problem is that we don’t have many females in this industry, and we would definitively get better games with their help. So let’s fix it soon!

Damsel in Distress 1

Damsel in Distress 2

Damsel in Distress 3


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