The Legacy of Feminist Frequency's Tropes vs Women Series


When Anita Sarkeesian asked for $6,000 in 2012, she couldn't have predicted what would happen in the years to come.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at


I was just talking about this series with a friend, who only found out about it and started watching over the weekend just after the series wrapped up. I funded the project, but hadn’t watched any of the videos in a while, so it was good to have this piece and the discussion with my friend to remember what a worthwhile endeavor the whole thing was.


It seems like only yesterday that the kickstarter for this was in full swing. Really encouraged me to examine games (and movies) more thoroughly.


I backed the project and it was bitter sweet to get the last backer update about the end of the project. I’m curious to see what she does next. It would be interesting if she or someone else did a similar analysis of games specific to racism and homophobia. Intersectional Feminist Frequency?


Looks like they’re going to announce a new series on thurs(5/4):


While obviously FemFreq is an amazing achievement and a real milestone in mainstream video games criticism, I can’t help but wonder what the legacy will be.

First of all is the material effect on games: without FemFreq and Gamergate, for example, would there have been such a visible pushback against Assassin’s Creed: Unity? Even if there had been, would it have necessarily led to including Evie Frye in Syndicate, or Emily in Dishonored 2? There seems to have been a small but noticeable uptick in Triple A games which feature female playable characters. It’s small – too small – but it is something. And obviously smaller games have felt more comfortable in having female protagonists and exploring feminist issues.

However, I don’t know what the legacy is for games criticism. Luckily, people have been able to incorporate more qualitative, social justice-y criticism in their games since then. But FemFreq, as good and important as it is, can’t help but seem like a bit of a relic. I’m not an idiot: I know there’s still a lot of people who still won’t accept that feminists have every right to criticise games, and I know that a lot of people still deal with their harassment and hate every day. But socially conscious criticism has become so mainstream in cultural writing. Although plenty of games critics are familiar with feminism and discuss it in their reviews, there aren’t many people who I would point to and call ‘feminist game critics.’ Although Anita Sarkeesian’s videos are generally really excellent, at times I do find her opinions lacking in a bit of nuance. I can’t think of a game criticism off the top of my head, but I think her Mad Max: Fury Road criticism sort of hits on my problem with her: it’s kind of all about categorising stuff as ‘feminist’ and ‘not feminist’, and doesn’t leave much room for examining complication and different ways of thinking about what is and isn’t progressive, interesting representation.

Sarkeesian and Tropes vs. Women in Video Games was a total revelation in 2012-3. But I’d really like to see more critics take up the torch and do a lot more of the interesting feminist work of the sort we see in film and TV. I don’t know, maybe I’m being too harsh.

ETA: Shiiiiit this was so long sorry. Also this isn’t to imply that there’s no feminist writing about games or that Feminist Frequency isn’t good


As someone who maybe didn’t agree completely with some of her overarching points and didn’t really find what she has done in terms of games criticism to be that revelatory at face value, I simply cannot argue with the fact Femfreq has had a pretty damn profound impact on games culture and one that has largely been for the better. I don’t necessarily think her legacy will be rooted in games criticism but moreso in examining gaming culture as a whole and to be honest I think think that is a far more valuable footprint to leave.