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Weekend Playlist: Sounds of the Game

By Sophie Day in Arts & Entertainment on Oct 18, 2014 6:00PM

Photo via Anita Sarkeesian

Earlier this week, a major threat of violence was made against an entire college population, targeting one young woman, and sparking conversations about gun control and harassment of women nationwide.

Anita Sarkeesian, famous for her YouTube channel Feminist Frequency, is a cultural critic who focuses on portrayals of gender and race in popular media. Her YouTube series is called "Tropes vs. Women," and it seeks to point out prolific and upsetting patterns that define female characters within the world of video games.

From the beginning, Sarkeesian has been a target for online harassment. So much so, in fact, that when she spoke at TEDxWomen in 2012, the subject of her talk was to analyze her harassment as though it were itself an online game.

Sarkeesian has never let threats stop her, even when she was forced to leave her house just a few months ago after receiving very serious threats against herself and her family.

Before she was scheduled to give a lecture at Utah University this week, school administrators received an anonymous email threatening the lives of any students, faculty, or staff that were at the event, as well as anyone who happened to be at a nearby women's center. The fact that the school could not do gun searches, due to Utah state law, played a large part in Sarkeesian's decision to cancel the event.

Many of her dissenters argue that video games are not meant to be examined in the way that she looks at them. Online trolls claim that she's simply looking for these things and that her bias is the only reason she's able to find them. The simple truth is that video games have come a long way from simple moving dots on an Asteroids screen, and not everything that's come with these innovations has been good. A simple image search of "video games" will bring up tons of photos of women, both virtual and real, in various states of undress. While video games are becoming more and more abundant, they are also becoming more intertwined into the rest of culture. Major artists release songs in conjunction with game trailers and make their music videos by splicing in game-play footage.

This story made the front page of the New York Times this week. Sarkeesian, herself a lifelong gamer, continues to do this work because she loves video games and we do too. Let's make them more inclusive and fun for everybody.

Songs of note:

Anamanaguchi is a band that creates many of their sounds using the same 8bit technology that was used for older video game themes. This song, "Prom Night" appeared on an episode of the podcast Song Exploder, where bands talk about the production of one single song and all its elements, before playing the full track.

Eminem's single "Survival" was released simultaneously with the trailer for Call of Duty: Ghosts last year.

Both the Wiz Khalifa and The Chain Gang of 1974 songs, from the Mortal Kombat X and Grand Theft Auto V trailers, respectively, use game-play footage in their music videos. Grand Theft Auto is probably one of the most notoriously misogynistic games in the common sphere.