Top 5: Most Annoying Anti-Feminist Game Tropes with Mod Zan!

Hey guys, gals, and non-binary pals! It’s Mod Zan, back with another article for you all to enjoy! In this article, we’re going to talk about some of the most irritating anti-feminist tropes in gaming. There are many, many more anti-feminist tropes in media and gaming than the 5 I’m going to mention in this list, but these are some that I see most frequently and that irritate me a bit more than the usual. Without further ado, here’s my list for you to enjoy!

5. Unrealistic Armor

This is one of the most discussed issues in feminist gaming that is commonly discussed in feminist gaming circles, and the fact that it’s still relevant enough to be put on the list today says everything that I could possibly say. Particularly relevant in fantasy games, armor that barely covers the female form in games is definitely a major distraction from a video game that might have many other merits to it. It detracts from both the design of the character and their story, and contributes to the prevalent issue of the sexualization of female characters in gaming that continually reappears no matter how far we progress socially. There are many culprits of this, including Quiet from Metal Gear, Morrigan from Dragon Age, any woman from Mortal Kombat, etc. This issue should have already been solved, and the fact that it still exists is what makes it so difficult.

4. The Chick (or One Token Girl)

I believe that this is also one of the most frequently discussed issues in feminist critique of games. There are quite a few games with a cast, or a team, that only has one girl and her only purpose appears to exist as her gender, and to take care of the rest of the team. This is slightly less prevalent than most other tropes in video games, but the existence of a single female character (unintentionally or not) is yet another trope that reduces the character to her gender identity and usually forces her into feminine or mother-like stereotypes. Even if she is an action girl.

3. Shallow Woman

I’m using the Shallow Woman for the purposes of this article to encompass a few different tropes that I tend to see frequently. She’s the trophy wife, the gold digger, the empty-headed adversary of the teenage girl and the evil stepmother. Any woman who is presented as having interests in things that are stereotypically feminine like shopping, makeup, acting, etc. is usually presented as being without purpose and existing to be shrill, catty, and an annoyance to the main character. Michael’s family in GTA V is the perfect example of this, as well as even some of the pre-made Sims (Dina Caliente, anyone?) in the Sims 2 and 3, and even 4.

2. Fridging

We certainly can’t talk about irritating tropes in games without talking about Fridging. Mod Knight wrote an entire article dedicated to breaking down this trope, which you should certainly check out if you have more to say about this! But regardless, fridging is something that we see far too often in video games. Women are constantly thrown under the metaphorical bus in order to further the development of the male characters in the game that are considered to be more important. Some examples of this are prevalent in many AAA games, such as in Arkham Knight with Barbara Gordon, Aerith in Final Fantasy 7, and Talion’s wife in Shadow of Mordor.

1. Prize to be Won (Also known as Standard Hero Reward)

There’s a lot of games that push this classic trope in ways that may not be obvious at first, but since this trope is older than time, it makes it harder to stomach now. Donkey Kong, Mario, and Legend of Zelda are some examples of the trope in its rawest sense, with princesses available for the protagonist to date or marry at the conclusion of the game. Unlockable outfits go back to the first trope that I discussed with unrealistic clothes, but also imply something more sinister about the female characters in games. It insinuates that their bodies are on display for the voyeuristic gaze of the player as an award, and thus that women’s bodies are an object to be earned with enough work.

Overall, these are all tropes that present harmful views about women, sexuality and their relationship to men. Objectification, sexualization, and in Anita Sarkeesian’s own words, trophisim is prevalent in all of the above discussed. The patriarchal nature of video games is what influences the existence of these tropes in the first place, and discussing them is integral to ensuring that we can make better games in the future that don’t involve these. Each trope I mentioned is likely to receive a full article about it in the future if it does not already have one, and I look forward to analyzing them all in greater detail with all of you!

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!.

Top 5 Best: Ultimate Weapons with Mod Knight!

Hey everyone, Mod Knight here with another Top 5! Weapons, where would our heroes be without them? Luke Skywalker with his lightsaber, Harry Potter with his wand, Lara Croft with her guns! Every hero has something that helps them stand against the forces of evil! But some weapons stand a cut above the rest, so lets count down my picks for the top five Ultimate Weapons in video games.

#5- Edea’s Fists (Bravely Default)

While not technically a proper weapon, by sheer numbers the strongest “equipment” You can have in the game is created by using the monk’s “Natural Talent” and “Knuckle Lore” Skills, and with Edea’s naturally high strength, equipping her with the skills and placing her in the pirate class creates a physical attack modifier that goes far beyond any weapon in the game! Honestly, this would be much higher on the list if it weren’t for the fact that when using this combination, you cant benefit from armor at all, meaning that you trade defense for power.

#4- Dawnbreaker (Skyrim)

There’s a lot of weapons in Skyrim which could compete for the title of “Ultimate.” However, my vote falls to the Dawnbreaker, this holy relic of the sun is great against the undead, and there’s NO shortage of the undead in Skyrim. So having the power to create huge, zombie and vampire repelling explosions (plus extra fire damage) makes the Dawnbreaker ideal in most situations!

#3- Ultima Weapon (Kingdom Hearts 2)

There have been several incarnations of the Ultima Weapon throughout the Kindgom Hearts and Final Fantasy series; however, overall, this is my favorite one! Requiring you to gather rare materials across the various worlds in the game, this weapon is definitely worth the effort; it has a huge boost to both your magical and melee power, plus providing an ability that makes your MP regenerate 75% faster!

#2-Master Sword (Breath of the Wild)

Of course, one of the most iconic weapons in gaming would make this list, and the incarnation of it Breath of The Wild is especially great! It serves as an endlessly regenerating weapon in a game where every weapon breaks. Not only that, but it’s power DOUBLES when fighting against bosses and corrupted foes! It’s especially cool considering that it isn’t actually necessary to complete the game.

#1- Master ( Kirby & The Amazing Mirror)

Kirby games are known for their fun, quirky style and neat powers, and none shines quite like the Master power! This weapon is obtained from Meta Knight during the final boss battle, and can be used afterward by going to the main area. This is an especially cool ability because it can be used on any puzzle, breaking through tough blocks, smashing down pins and more, there’s nothing the Master cant do!!

Tropes in Gaming: The Manic Pixie Dream Girl with Mod Zan!

Hi readers! It’s Mod Zan coming at you with a new article for Tropes in Gaming. In today’s article, we’re discussing a classic trope that has been discussed frequently in many feminist circles: the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

The trope is often coined to describe the female leads in romantic comedy movies as well as any movie that has a male and female lead. As a general rule, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a woman who enters the life of the male lead through serendipity, and usually is extremely beautiful and “unique” despite having no substance and no personal goals outside of helping the main character acheive whatever it is that they are out to do throughout the course of their adventure.

This trope is one of the more popular ones that is discussed in feminist discourse, which means that video games are no exception.

To get us started, I think it’s important to recognize a few examples of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl in video games. A classic example would be Zelda from most of the Zelda games, particularly because she exists consistently to only improve Link’s life while he roams Hyrule, trying to save her. This overlaps with the Damsel in Distress trope that we discussed in a prior article, and is by no means the most expansive example of the trope.

Another good example of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is in the Shadow of Mordor games, through Lithariel. Tallion’s life implodes when he’s sacrificed and loses his family to the Black Hand, and spends his time roaming through Mordor trying to take revenge on every Uruk that he comes across while getting to know the Elven spirit that now shares his form. Lithariel only shows up to give him a quest in order to increase his power while seeming like a badass, only to slip up and need saving later on and becoming a romantic interest. This fufills many other tropes outside of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, such as the damsel in distress as well as the forced romantic interest as the only other female lead in the game aside from Tallion’s dead wife and her aging mother.

The harm in the Manic Pixie Dream Girl can be broken down in multiple layers. The first is in the insistence that the male protagonist’s life will never change without the help of an adorable, quirky girl to lead him into the metaphorical light from his world of grey. This places the responsibility for the male on the female lead and insists that she have no other purpose except to help him. This perpetuates the idea that women exist solely as an aid for men and don’t have their own desires and ambitions.

Another layer of it is the forced romanticism of a woman with a man regardless of their proximity to one another and how incompatible they are. This insinuates that regardless of compatibility, women and men are unable to be anything other than friends. This toxicity bleeds into the lives of real people as they interact with one another and reinforces the harmful treatment of women in our society even on a small scale. Therefore, the deconstruction of tropes is essential to both feminist discourse and societal progress.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!

Tropes in Gaming: The Damsel in Distress with Mod Knight!

The damsel in distress…where to even begin? This is a trope as old as…well, dirt, honestly. From ancient myths, to fairy tales, to the early days of gaming; we’ve seen this old story played over time and time again. A fair maiden, captured and taken prisoner, a brave (almost always male) hero rushing in to save the day, generally to be rewarded with the girl’s affections…I’m sure you just imagined at least 10 different stories that you know without even having to think about it.

But for how old, and dated (and honestly, just…boring) this storyline is, it still continues to flourish; especially in the game industry! When movies and books are learning to veer away from it, games only ever want to detour and continually find their way back into the mire of this archaic trope.

So, I guess the best question is…why? Why do we keep seeing this cycle of women being reduced to nothing more than an objective to be rescued? Why do we keep seeing girls who are useless aside from being someone for the hero to save? Let’s be honest with ourselves: this kind of thing almost always goes back to being a male ego booster. After all, if the guy is the one saving the girl, then guys can feel great about themselves when they play it! Right? Right? Well, yes.

After all, in our society, we use media for socialization, and the way we see others presented. And how we see those like us presented in media has a profound impact on how we look at ourselves and how we see others! So, when young girls see how those like them are so often treated like they’re useless, helpless, and only able to wait to be helped by a man, it weakens their confidence in themselves. And tells them that this is how they should be. And when boys see it, they take the assumption that all girls are that way and should behave as such. Ultimately, if you can’t already tell, the problem with this trope is representation! Something I plan on talking a lot more about in the future! But for now, this all ties into this trope.

Now, lets see if we can list some examples…now, I’m sure you’ve all be waiting for me to bring up Princess Peach; it’s kind of inevitable with this topic! After all, she’s been kidnapped more times than we can count…But, thankfully in more recent years, the princess has undergone some growth! Yes, she still gets kidnapped from time to time; however, she’s steadily become a strong, independent female character…at least in certain games…

Another example comes in the form of Princess Zelda, whom we’ve talked about repeatedly; somehow, no matter how competent, powerful, or skilled she is, she somehow almost always ends up in this role! No matter how out of character it ends up being for her.

At the end of the day, this trope is just plain and simple outdated. I always enjoy seeing it subverted, or used in ways that are clever however! After all, putting a character into a bad situation is a great way to show off their true strength! Hopefully, that’s the direction people will go when they decide to use this trope in the future! So, I suppose we’ll have to wait and see.