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Saints Row 4 developer says Anita Sarkeesian "is right" in latest Tropes vs. Women in Videogames

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You are probably at least peripherally aware of the furor that followed the release of the latest Tropes vs. Women in Videogames video, which got so bad that creator Anita Sarkeesian was actually compelled to leave her home because of threats made against her and her family. It's an appalling state of affairs by any measure, but while some gamers seem determined to prove that Sarkeesian is "wrong" (or at least shut her up), Steve Jaros, the creative director of Saints Row studio Volition, says in no uncertain terms that she's right.

You might expect someone in Jaros' position to dismiss Sarkeesian's complaints, or at least try to minimize their validity, but instead he made a point of drawing attention to them. "I actually tweeted out the link to the video yesterday about women as background objects and said that every game developer should watch this and sometimes is guilty of it," he told The Escapist at PAX Prime. "I think that [Sarkeesian's] right in that case."

Jaros said he believes Volition's portrayal of women has improved since the first Saints Row game, which Sarkeesian specifically mentions in her latest video. He noted that women in Saints Row 4 are never called "ho," while the Saints Row 3 sex workers Viola and Kiki are actually "the most covered-up characters" in the game. "They don't show an inch of skin, and it was by design, because we didn't want to sexually objectify them," he said.

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At the same time, he acknowledged that earlier games in the series were more problematic, and is willing to take his lumps for it. "I think it's fair to be called out on your shit," he said. "I think that it's a sad man that can never be self-reflective. I think that we tried to go and carry ourselves with respect, and try to respect sexuality and respect gender as much as we can, and sometimes we fail but hopefully we'll do better and continue to get better."

Andy Chalk
Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.