Problematic Portrayals of Women in Video Games: Discuss!

Anita Sarkeesian

Image of Anita Sarkeesian

Sonali Basak (2014, October 15) reports at MSN News that Anita Sarkeesian, ” . . . a feminist blogger critical of how women are portrayed in video games . . .,” cancelled a speech she was scheduled to deliver at Utah State University in Logan.

The university had received emails threatening a school shooting that would harm “. . . Sarkeesian, her audience, and feminists on campus . . ..”  Sarkeesian is quoted: “I canceled because I didn’t feel the security measures were adequate.”

Sarkeesian’s blog and webseries, Feminist Frequency (2012-2014), contains discussion about the treatment of women in video games, specifically, the “sexual objectification” of females and the inclusion of violence towards them.

In “Women as Background Decoration” (viewable at Feminist Frequency), Sarkeesian talks about “non-playable characters” (NPCs) in the video game Binary Domain. She describes certain female NPCs in such games as “hypersexualized  . . . passive objects of heterosexual male desire.”

Video games provide entertainment and are accessible to many young adults.  (Binary Domain, for example, is currently available for downloading at, with an ESRB “Mature” rating — for ages 17 and up [Entertainment Software, n.d.].)  As a result, the issues that Sarkeesian brings to light are important for contemplation and discussion by young adults and the professionals in their lives.


The following resources, mentioned above, will be useful for further exploration and research:

Basak, S. (2014, October 15). “Death threats prompt video-game critic to cancel her speech.” MSN news. Retrieved from

Entertainment Software Rating Board. (n.d.). “ESRB ratings.” Retrieved on October 15, 2014 from

Sarkeesian, A. (2012-2014). Feminist frequency: conversations with pop culture [Blog and webseries]. Retrieved from

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