Tropes vs Women in Video Games

posted by Sarah Pavis   Aug 06, 2013

The third and final part of Anita Sarkeesian’s Feminist Frequency series on the damsel in distress trope in video games has been released and it deals with the few games that invert the trope and put the dude in distress. She looks at dozens of games and the cultural norms they attempt to subvert but end up reinforcing.

Back in our first episode I mentioned that Princess Peach is the star of exactly one platformer. That game is called Super Princess Peach and it was released in 2006 for the Nintendo DS handheld system. The premise is a simple inversion of the standard franchise formula with Bowser abducting Mario and Luigi, while Peach is tasked with their rescue this time. So finally after being kidnapped in 13 separate Super Mario games, Peach gets to be the hero for once. But don’t get too excited because everything else about the game ends up in a train-wreck of gender stereotypes. Nintendo introduced a new gameplay mechanic for Peach where the player can choose from four special powers or vibes as they’re called. And you know what those powers are? Her mood swings. That’s right. Peach’s powers are her out of control frantic female emotions. She can throw a temper tantrum and rage her enemies to death or bawl her eyes out and wash the bad guys away with tears. Essentially Nintendo has turned a PMS joke into a core gameplay mechanic.

The first two parts of the series are available here and here.