For quite a while, I’ve been working on collecting data for a post about sex workers in video games. It was going to be long and contain a lot of detailed data points and… honestly I tried to find just about any excuse not to work on it, because it was hard. Almost all of the games I was looking at were of the GRIMDARK MALE HERO school of protagonist design, which for the most part I avoid like the plague. (Although I’m willing to make exceptions for exceptional writing. I loved The Last of Us so much that I wrote two posts about it.)
So in order to gather the data points that I was looking for, I was having to wade through some truly awful gameplay clips on youtube, or depressing Google Image search results, and it was just depressing.
And the idea of collecting all the data points I wanted for the entire list of 86 titles I’d put together was more than daunting. It made me want to give up all together. And I felt bad about that, because it was important – something well worth writing about! Something that spoke to the deepest core of misogyny in the game development industry.
And then Anita Sarkeesian released her most recent video about the phenomenon she calls “non-player sex objects”, which addressed everything that I wanted to say and so much more. And I’ve been mulling over the problem of this post that I wanted to write and realizing that the thing I was planning on writing? I think that’s a thing that would be redundant now. Because Anita said it better than I could.
I feel a little bad about it, because this was something that I’d had hanging over my head for the last six months. But at the same time, I have to recognize that doing the needed research required exposing myself to disturbing and violent imagery, which was a task I just don’t have the emotional bandwidth for right now.
Still, I thought it was worth writing a brief post here, because I want to highlight again that Anita Sarkeesian IS A MOTHERFUCKING SUPERHERO. She deals with the absolute worst that the internet can throw at her and marinates in the disturbing and graphic misogyny produced by the game industry and still manages to create videos that are insightful and powerful and compelling.
I’ll probably still write about sex workers in video games at some point in the future, but I imagine it will be more narrowly focused than the sprawlingly ambitious piece I had intended to write. In the mean time, if you haven’t seen Part 2 of the Non-Playable Sex Objects series, here it is. [ALL OF THE TRIGGER WARNINGS]