You can discover the most interesting people on Flickr, unexpectedly and with little effort. I found this photo by searching “trope”, and for no particular reason. What I like: Contrasting focus, and how it’s composed, with the game player bokehed (gasp, probably not a word, but frak it) and Nintendo 3DS XL focused. The device’s rich red pops. This would be a perfect product shot for marketing purposes. But it’s not.
The credited photographer, Anita Sarkeesian, is a controversial feminist game critic. Three years ago, her Tropes vs Women in Video Game series Kicktartered (I swear that’s gonna be a word) asking for $6,000 and raising $158,922. Her Feminist Frequency website is down as I write, but its YouTube has vids for the series, which stirred up trouble—like threats against her.
Before finding the 3DS XL photo I had never heard of Anita Sarkeesian. But Googling, I see there was media coverage far and wide during 2012-13 and what ruckus it generated. This is one of those circumstances where Wikipedia is the authoritative tell-all.
I was at first mystified for being clueless about this women, her project, or the media frenzy around it. But I’m not a gamer, and even though a tech journalist I work and hobby outside the gaming sphere and culture. So from another perspective, I’m not surprised for completely missing this trope thing.
The photo’s authenticity is a bit dubious, assuming the blurred woman is Anita. Surely she didn’t selfie here? But the pic is credited to her everywhere used, and I’m surprised by the vast number of news sites that used the photo when conducting an image verification search. The camera, Nikon D7000, also is the same used for other images in her stream from the same time period.
The photo’s “taken date” is Aug. 19, 2012, but the EXIF raw data shows June 14, 2011. Vitals: f/1.4, ISO 1000, 1/125, 30mm. The post date fits in with the Kickstarter. Anita captions: “I’m currently researching the Damsel in Distress trope for my upcoming Tropes vs Women in Video Game series. If you have any game or character suggestions specifically for the Nintendo DS, leave them in the comments below”.
Photo Credit: Anita Sarkeesian