Book Excerpt and Review - Sex in Video Games
December 12, 2006 Page 12 of 15
Some gaming sites have also ceased publication of booth babe “news.” For instance, Gamespot.com, a leading industry site, doesn’t offer special coverage of show models. Greg Kasavin, the executive editor of Gamespot.com, said it’s an editorial decision. “While we have significant resources available to us for coverage of E3, we nevertheless believe all those resources should be spent covering games and the show itself. We did offer our audience video booth tours and lots of other video content from the  show, allowing those who couldn’t attend E3 to take in all the different sights and sounds. So, we certainly didn’t go out of our way to not show any E3 booth babes in our coverage, especially since they’re a fairly common sight during the event. However, we gave them no special attention, because we’re much more interested in the subject matter of E3 rather than the people hired to work the show, and we think our audience feels the same way. I understand why these types of pictorials exist elsewhere—they probably generate more page views than an average preview—but we’re focused on game coverage” [Kasavin01].
Although criticism and celebration of booth babes has often focused on the female models and those who ogle them, male models also play a part, although that part is tiny in comparison. Previous E3s have seen an actor dressed up as Duke Nukem, various sports stars, Colby Donaldson from the Survivor television series, and even Vin Diesel. Chris Oltyan, a game developer and a member of the IGDA’s women in game development mailing list, coined a unique phrase to describe male booth babes. “I personally like the term ‘Booth Beef’,” said Oltyan. “I feel it properly objectifies men, whereas ‘brawn’ makes me think of paper towels” [Oltyan01].
SEX IN MARKETING & ADVERTISING
Whether it’s a first-person shooter (FPS), an RPG, or a social simulation, sex sells— or at least game publishers hope it does. Advertisements in video game magazines frequently feature scantily clad and busty women and buff, bare-chested handsome men. In the March 2005 issue of Electronic Game Monthly®, a magazine pulled randomly from a shelf containing many video game magazines, the following sexy material in advertising was found:
Page 17—An advertisement for Sega’s Tenchu® Fatal Shadows™ contains a panel that shows a computer-generated buxom fighter with large breasts and lower armor that exposes the women’s hips.
Pages 20, 21, and 23—A three-page advertisement for Sony’s Champions: Return to Arms™ features a real woman wearing leather panties and a bra. She looks longingly upon the armor she has yet to put on—a platemail bra and panties with leather fringe. The third page of the advertisement features the same woman now dressed in the “armor.”
Page 27—An advertisement for Lucas Arts’ Star Wars®: Knights of the Old Republic® II: The Sith Lords™ features two women with exceptionally large breasts, lipstick, and rouge.
Page 33—An advertisement for Namco’s Tekken 5® shows a bare-chested, buff, attractive man.
Page 36—An advertisement for a company that provides Java games, wall papers, and ring tones features 27 images of scantily dressed or topless women. The topless models use their hands, another woman’s body, or their pose to obscure their nipples.
Page 51—An advertisement for Namco’s Death by Degrees™ features a woman in a tight, ripped leather body suit. Its largest rip exposes some of her left breast.
Pages 62–63—An advertisement for Capcom’s Devil May Cry® 3 features a bare-chested, buff, and attractive man.
Back Cover—An advertisement for Epic Games’ Unreal® Championship 2™: The Liandri Conflict shows a large-breasted woman wearing a platemail bikini. Her male counterpart is heavily armored from the neck down except for a portion of his right upper arm, which contains an ornament.
Sometimes the sexy models have no connection to the game they’re advertising. For instance, a two-page advertisement for Sony’s ATV Offroad Fury® 3 in the January 2005 issue of GMR magazine uses a model that has no connection to the game, any of its mechanics, or even its setting. On the left-hand page is a supposed advertisement for the cologne “Fuzion.” On that page, a beautiful model in lingerie kneels provocatively on a bed covered in crisp white linens in what appears to be a typical bedroom. The viewer’s eye is instantly drawn to her and secondly, to the spray of mud which has begun to cover her. She looks on, oblivious. Looking at the advertisement, the viewer is initially confused. When the advertisement was shown to several people, all were puzzled, and one even asked aloud, “What’s with the mud?” The answer is in the advertisement on the right-hand page. The ad for ATV Offroad Fury® 3 shows an ATV rider as he blasts through a mud pit, spraying it across the magazine fold and onto the beautiful model in the seemingly unrelated advertisement [GMR01].
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