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'Tropes vs. Women' reveals staggering number of video games that treat women as sex objects

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After a seven-month break, feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian and Feminist Frequency have released the latest Tropes vs. Women in Video Games video. This new video, following up on previous episodes about damsels in distress and the so-called "Ms. Male Character," analyzes gaming's time-honored tendency to treat non-playable female characters as decoration and sex objects. Given how the male gaze is culturally embedded in Western society, video games, Sarkeesian argues, ratchet the issue up by giving the player the ability to act out this imperative — which is unfortunate when you consider how powerful games are at communicating ideas. "Interactive media has the potential to be a perfect medium to genuinely explore sex and sexuality," she says. "But that’s not what’s happening here."

Sarkeesian has gotten considerable flack in the past few years for her delving into tropes in media. When the Kickstarter for Tropes vs, Women in Video Games launched in May 2012, she received criticism all the way up to and including physical threats. However, her critique of successful and even lauded video games like Grand Theft Auto V, BioShock Infinite, and the more recent Watch Dogs are cogent and necessary. She was even awarded the Ambassador Award at this year's Game Developer Choice Awards for the project.