The Internet’s Reaction to Sarkeesian’s ‘Assassin’s Creed Syndicate’ Review (Opinion Piece)

On October 22, Anita Sarkeesian posted an Assassin’s Creed Syndicate review (that’s a Pastebin link) on her website,

Over the past week, the various game forums and websites have exploded with criticism in a dramatic aftershock to last year’s Gamergate conspiracy (you remember, the one that started with an indie game about depression and became an investigation into a world-wide collusion between the entire gaming industry, the media, and three world governments?)

I’m not going to touch Gamergate with an electrocuted, twenty-foot pole, nor am I here to make a judgment call one way or another about Anita Sarkeesian. I want to point out something else:




Gamers. Please. Regardless of your personal feelings toward feminism, toward the representation of women in games, or toward Sarkeesian or her supporters as people and as a public figures, these sort of reactions do not help.

In general, the major media outlets of the world raise eyebrows at the idea of video games as an art form and at the belief that gamers are a culture. In other words, anything that we have to say about our medium starts out at a deficit. We have to work our way up, and, unfortunately, many of the most outspoken gamers in the field don’t seem to see that. It’s a classic case of a few ridiculous people making things difficult for everyone. I don’t believe that gamers or video games are sexist, racist, or homophobic at heart. What I do believe is that the medium is still evolving from of its arcade roots to a fully-fledged story-telling medium. That kind of progress comes with change.

Even if you see Sarkeesian as an extremist, as many people do, the answer is not to take the polar opposite view to spite her. It’s exactly what people tend to do with national politics. The only way that either side will ever make progress is through measured discussion. That was the idea when Congress was created; that’s the power of the Internet.

Plus, the answer is ESPECIALLY not to insult, threaten, or otherwise wish harm to Sarkeesian or to her supporters. That is NEVER the answer. For one thing, it’s immoral, and for another, gamers already have a deep-set reputation for immaturity and childishness in the minds of many people. Let’s not make it worse, please.

Sarkeesian’s review is also overwhelmingly positive. She thought that Syndicate was PRETTY GOOD, both as a game and as a representation of a female character.

That’s a good thing.

Responding to a mostly positive review with venom won’t encourage gaming’s detractors to work with us. In fact, it’ll do the opposite. Gaming is moving forward; its making progress. Whether people like it or not, the medium is evolving.

Don’t we want more people to play our favorite games? Don’t we want developers to make money so that they continue producing the games we love? It’s not like anyone is going to stop making simple, fun games because some developers are coming out with sweeping epics at the behest of people like me that love stories. The arcade games and shooters that we love for the sole reason that they’re fun won’t go anywhere if we introduce a little more diversity into games.

So let’s chill out a little, gamers.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. My video was in response to her “non-review” focusing the majority of it on the character of Evie, and very little on the game as a whole. She has every right to espouse her opinion, and I have every right to be critical of it.

    In the future, if you’d like to lump my videos in with what is perceived “over reaction”, the least you could do is listen to what I have to say, and then ask me for a comment.


    1. Hello, MundaneMatt,

      How are you? I watched your video twice, once in writing my article, and once again just now. My argument was not intended as a critique of your video. In fact, I agreed with the majority of what you had to say, especially in the second half. You were speaking to fellow gamers, and I understood exactly what you were trying to get across. My contention was not your arguments or in the fact that you were critical. It was the way in which you presented your points.

      You have every right to your opinion, just as Sarkeesian has to hers. Since MundaneMatt is your identity and your channel, you also have the right to present yourself however you want. You actually made me chuckle a few times. However, the reason I cited your video in my article is because I believe that gamers as a community have to be incredibly careful in how we debate these things right now, because, as I wrote, we’re starting at a deficit of media respect after last year’s debacle.

      If you read that Gamergate Wikipedia article I also cited, you can see that it is clearly biased against the gamers that participated. Sadly, the biggest voices in Gamergate, if the stories about the harassment are all true (which is why I put in that little bit about threatening and insulting), were downright vicious and hateful. Most of the world will see only that, and not the other facets of the affair (and they also probably wouldn’t consider that Quinn, Wu, or Sarkeesian could well have been exaggerating, though, from what I know of the Internet, I doubt they were by that much).

      What it all means is that we have to tread carefully, or non-gaming media outlets will write us off as childish. Again, a few stupid people making everyone else in the community look bad.

      I appreciate your comment. If you really do not want your video linked in my article, I can ask Emma or Andrew if they will take it out. Keep in mind though, that this article is my own opinion. I enjoyed your video, which is why I watched the whole thing, but I really think that we should approach the topic more delicately, at least for a little while.

      1. John this article is really incredibly bad, and your opining comes off as disingenuous at best and shameful at worst.

        It also comes off as you trying to simultaneously fan the flames of any ‘controversy’ regarding Sarkeesian’s “review” while at the same time placing yourself on a moral pedestal calling anyone who criticizes Sarkeesian for that pathetic excuse of a review as over reacting GamerGate trolls.

        Sarkeesian has long been loathed for her completely one sided videos and lectures in which she slanders entire groups of people for the (perceived) benefit of another, tarnishing the reality of game culture, development and fandom in the process.

        Now she’s being criticized for making a video where all she talks about is how great the female protagonist is and other social justice warrior themes with literally no substance regarding actually reviewing the game.

        In short, your plugging for a fraud who is once again trying to garner attention to herself by being as controversial as possible. So good job I guess?

  2. By all means keep it in. I willfully put the video out there, and therefore am opening myself up to criticism and commentary.

    You are correct, the way we handle these discussions is quite difficult, and often times can lead to overreactions (I am not immune to cases of jumping to conclusions myself).

    I try to handle the topic as delicately as I can. I try not to insult her character so much as her provable actions, which are often times covered up in the name of “harassment”. But its a never-ending uphill battle at this point.

  3. I’m an avid “gamer” and I can tell you, i support Sarkeesian’s reviews because as an intellectual, I’d like that information before spending upwards of $100 on a game. I *do* want to know if it’s sexist and as a person with a graduate degree in psychology, having reviewed Sarkeesian’s reviews, I think she’s a fairly decent source of information. The people who bash her often wouldn’t know a research study if it bit them in the backside and failed them out of school. And that’s what *I* think of most gamers who bash her. They often do not present anything intelligent in terms of criticisms of her work.