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Feature: UCLA Professor on Booth Babes and Basement Dwellers

Feature: UCLA Professor on Booth Babes and Basement Dwellers

June 9, 2006 | By Frank Cifaldi

In today's Gamasutra feature, UCLA associate professor Yasmin Kafai steps up to the Soapbox to discuss why the reformatted dress code for so-called "booth babes" at this year's E3 is the "first step towards reform in an industry where women have traditionally been marginalized," and conversely how the Ubisoft-funded girl gamer clan, the Frag Dolls (whose Team Captain, Morgan Romine, participated in a panel discussion at the Kafai-organized Girls 'N Games Conference last May) are "making inroads into the video and computer game world one gigabyte at a time."

In the following extract, Kafai opines on the Frag Dolls' contribution toward a society where female gamers are considered a viable market for traditionally male-oriented games, and gives a decidedly negative visual description of mainstream gaming's majority market:

"Women have been making inroads into the video and computer game world one gigabyte at a time. All-girl game teams like the FragDolls, sponsored by UBISOFT, a corporate game developer, has put women at the forefront of competitions. Young and stylish, the FragDolls vanquish the stereotype of the pale-faced, geeky and greasy-haired boy gamers who once held sway in the days when computer games were played in the basement.

And the Fragdolls have more than just a pretty face: they can beat the boys at the boys' own games, as their winning performances at tournaments have shown. Women clearly have the aptitude for and interest in computer games, so the old belief, perpetuated by the media, that girls arent any good at games or that they're not interested in them, is simply a myth, and the marketing departments of big corporate game companies that are promoting such teams recognize this and are onto something that appeals to all sides."

You can read the full Gamasutra feature for more, including an explanation of how scantily-dressed product representatives at the industry-only E3 event attract "mostly young men who wait for their photo op by standing in long lines that wrap around the exhibitors' booths" (no registration required, please feel free to link to this feature from external websites).

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