"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Monday, August 10, 2009

G4 Special Promotes Gaming Boys Club

I had the supreme misfortune to catch this special on G4 over the weekend and found myself unable to look away from the train wreck. Nothing sends the message that video games are a "Boys Only" club like this shit:

It's not that I mean any disrespect to the women who take these jobs, (if anything, the TV special shows some of the realities of what they really have to put up with at trade shows) but it completely amazes me that the practice of "booth babes" is an accepted and encouraged part of the video game industry. The fact that marketers can so overtly and unabashedly use women's bodies to promote and sell their products to men who surely know that most of these women have little to no interest in gaming or in talking to and taking pictures with them just doesn't make any logical sense to me. The whole institution, including the fact that they are so eagerly referred to as "booth babes", seems so archaically sexist -- like it doesn't even belong in this century.

Men's disproportionate involvement in gaming culture really is a vicious cycle. Industry leaders can claim all they want that women just aren't interested in gaming, but as long as they write mostly male-centric games, patronize women when they do condescend to write games for them, and sexually objectify them at every possible opportunity, they will continue to alienate them.

Or maybe we should just turn the tables. How about this? The next time I go to a mostly female-attended convention, like, say, a scrapbooking and crafts expo, I fully expect and demand scantily clad male "eye candy" to feign interest in the latest paper design, coquettishly demo the cutting tools, pose for pictures, and give me free swag.


Dolly said...

Fantastic post, Tracy. I agree with you completely.

Unknown said...

Ugh, as a semi-newbie gamer (and former roommate of G4 personality), this exploitative part of the culture isn't surprising), but is always infuriating.

For now I'm just trying to refute the gamer culture of "boys play games/girls sell games" by becoming a better gamer and kicking misogynist/homophobic/racist ass.

Though, I was also pretty happy when one of the runner ups totally subverted EA's attempt at making these women's jobs even harder (here's my post about it).

Toysoldier said...

When male eye candy is used to attract women no one complains. No one considers is exploitative and it is highly doubtful that if the male eye candy were attractive, but underage anyone would be bothered by it. If anything, those who complain about female eye candy would be highly supportive of it.

I do find these kind of complaints interesting, at least to the extent that the complaint is never launched at female-centered industries that either do not market to males at all or market to the stereotypical effeminate gay man. I think that if the video game industry were not successful and it appealed to a largely male audience no one would take issue with it marketing to males.

Anonymous said...

Well, I got bingo on Jacob's comment. Anyone else?

Tracey said...

I did, too, but flewellyn called it first, so she's the winner!

plumpdumpling said...

I don't understand the bingo comment, but I love how pretty much every guy who comments here says the same thing. Even as a passive feminist, it's so laughable.

Anyway, I don't care much about the booth girls. I'm not interested in looking at half-clothed men, but I get that men are interested in looking at half-clothed women. Mostly, watching this video makes me think that you and I really should've been going to these shows back when we were single to pick up alllll sorts of nerds.