The first episode of the second series of Anita Sarkeesian’s Tropes vs Women video series is now available to view online – and you can watch it right here.
Called ‘Strategic Butt Coverings’, the short examines the different approach to gender character design in regards to how a player’s attention is or is not drawn to a character’s bum.
If you want to get to know a character, learn about their interests, goals, or desires, their butt is probably not going to give you that information,” Sarkeesian explains. But video game designers often choose to put tremendous focus on the butts of certain characters, while going to almost absurd lengths to avoid calling attention to the butts of others.
In dozens of third-person games with playable female characters, the character’s butt is brought to the forefront and that’s where the player’s focus is directed. Common ways men’s butts are hidden are by preventing the player from seeing below the character’s waistline, or employing a more over-the-shoulder camera angle, which has the added benefit of keeping the character’s butt safely out of the frame.
The most amusing solution is to simply include a cape, tunic, long coat or very conveniently positioned piece of tattered fabric which actively prevents the player from getting a clear or sustained look at the protagonist’s butt.
By contrast, the emphasis placed on the butts of female characters communicates to players that this is what’s important, this is what you should be paying attention to. It communicates that the character is a sexual object designed for players to look at and enjoy. And by explicitly encouraging you to ogle and objectify the character, the game is implicitly discouraging you from identifying directly with her.
Strategic butt coverings and camera angles that obscure or de-emphasize male characters’ rear ends are not an accident; they are a conscious decision made with great care, and the flipside of this is that designers often do the opposite when the protagonist is female.”
This episode, as will be the case with others in this second series, is shorter than previous entries – a change Sarkeesian hopes will aid its accessibility for viewers.
Take a look at the video below: