Tropes vs Women

Here’s a video. Watch it. I have commentary about it below.

Yes, I know what a damsel in distress is.

Yes, I know that many old games used this trope.

Yes, I know that Nintendo keeps using it to this day.

Your only modern examples come from Nintendo? The king of lazy and non-existent storytelling? No, remakes don’t count.

Those last 3 minutes seem to be the only worthy thing being said in the whole damn video.

Aaaaand the talk about modern games using this trope will go in the second episode.

Wow.

That’s it? That was all you had to say about this trope in 23 minutes? You are not gonna even entertain the thought that different cultures have a different relationship with it? I mean, I can’t say much about that because I haven’t investigated it, but I’m not the one that got 150k to do so. Here’s a hint: Look up “japan” in google, see what you find.

I’m really, really disappointed by this documentary. After seeing the enormous amount of money it got, the great level of attention it attracted and the unbelievably huge clusterfuck that a community of imbeciles caused* … I was expecting SOMETHING to be said other than “here’s this trope, here are a few examples, this is bad, we shouldn’t do this”.

Look, I don’t have much to say about this trope; I haven’t read much on the subject but here’s the first thing that came to my mind:

Maybe, just maybe, this trope has more to do with lazy storytelling than with any gender issues. What’s our demographic? Males. Do they care about the story? Not really. Done! Use whatever tropes that you think appeal to boys.

It’s a crutch, it’s a trope that everybody is familiar with and so anyone could come up with a story like this. There are so many old games that use this trope precisely because the ones doing the story were the programmers and not professional writers. The problem arises when an otherwise intelligent story uses the damsel in distress trope without having anything to say about it, without doing anything with it, without exploring the ramifications or even just subverting it at the last moment as a wink to the audience. That’s a problem.

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*You can read about it in this Tropes vs Women Kickstarter update and then this other one.

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Kickstarter & marketing stupidity

Kickstarter is a wonderful thing for reasons that I’ve already touched upon. It lets game developers finally do whatever they want as long as they can find the funding. It lets indies be indies and for some of them it eliminates the need for a publisher. Publishers cease to be the almighty gatekeepers of the industry. Kickstarter is a net positive for the games industry, no matter how you look at it.

But there’s a problem. A problem that I’ve seen in almost every single videogame kickstarter campaign. To put it simply: Developers are misusing backer exclusive updates, and in the process failing miserably at marketing.

Now don’t get me wrong, backer exclusive updates are actually good when used properly. That is to say, when used for developing a conversation with the people that are invested in your product. It’s an awesome tool for refining the final product, but of course it’s being used in a very misguided way. Basically, some developers have turned it into the proverbial carrot at the end of the stick.

What's inside the mystery box? Pay us and find out!
Ooohh, what updates could be hidden inside this box? They sure look mysterious … I must know! HAVE MY MONEY!

It’s stupid. It’s stupid in oh so many ways. My best try to condense the stupid in a single sentence is the following: You are wasting money/time developing a marketing strategy that is being exclusively directed at the people that have already bought your product. All in the hopes that a mysterious promise of exclusive updates will push someone out there from not-buy into yes-buy.

It’s incredible that a company like Double Fine would hold a documentary ransom when they could just as well release it. Look, Double Fine, you are not going to get more people to buy your game if you don’t tell people anything. It’s been radio silence since you released the first episode for free. That is possibly the worst type of marketing: no marketing at all!

If you, dear reader, haven’t payed money to Double Fine yet and you are waiting for them to release ANY information as to what is it going to be apart from an “adventure game” I’d go as far as saying that pirating the documentary is your best option.

Yeah, let that sink in for a moment.