Time named Anita Sarkeesian, a critic of the game industry’s depiction of women, as one of its top 100 most influential people in the world today. She appears on the list along side tech leaders Tim Cook of Apple and Satya Nadella of Microsoft — but no one else from the game multibillion game business.
Sarkeesian is the founder of the Feminist Frequency and creator of the Tropes vs. Women in Video Games video series. Her presence on the list suggests a cultural shift in the thinking about who plays games and who they’re are designed for. She has also been a frequent target of harassment by Internet trolls as part of the Gamergate controversy, which, among other things, pitted game traditionalists and others who made terrorist threats against feminist critics.
Last year, she had to flee her home and cancel a university talk in the wake of a school shooting threat.
“Anita is a feminist for the digital age, using modern tools and platforms to engage thousands of people who want to hear her thoughts and respond to the challenges she raises,” wrote actor Wil Wheaton for the list. “A lesser person may throw up her hands and unplug her game console, but Anita is determined to ensure that video games are inclusive and representative of everyone who plays them. As her detractors grow increasingly unhinged, we have proof that her efforts are working.”
Sarkeesian said in a statement, “I appreciate the honor of being included in the Time 100. It’s gratifying to see Feminist Frequency’s educational media criticism work recognized in this way. I’m encouraged that our video series on the portrayal of women in video games is starting to have a tangible impact on the gaming industry at large. This honor also highlights the importance of cultural and media criticism in promoting gender equity.”
Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto made the 2007 Time 100 list after the success of the Wii game console, and Rockstar Games’ Sam and Dan Houser were added to the list in 2009, after the release of Grand Theft Auto IV.