This year’s E3 provided an interesting commentary for some in the form of Penny Arcade Expo’s (PAX) decision to ban the use of “booth babes”: those scantily clad, heavingly breasted females used to attract male attention to a company’s specific stand and its wares. Very rarely do they know anything about the actual product in question, but apparently an effective method of selling stuff to adult men is by appealing to their 13-year-old animalistic self.
The E3 expo has no such ban in place and Kate Cox, a writer for kotaku.com, had the following experience:
At one demo, I had to fight my way through a mob to get to the booth's front desk, only to find that actually, there was no line at reception — the throng around me had assembled to snap photos of the two women in ill-fitting, barely-there elf costumes as they posed provocatively by the booth's entrance.
This made me laugh quite a lot; but at the same time, it’s a pretty sad state of affairs.
From another perspective, Evan Narcisse writes of the introduction of “Booth Bros” to this year’s E3, examples of whom can be seen below:
There are many things on this Earth that are not meant to be wrapped in skin-tight latex and maybe; just maybe, p*****s are one of them.
The thing that stood out to me from all this is that my mind is slightly boggled by the fact that game publishers and folk of that sort appear to be incapable of finding another marketing technique they could use to sell products to us gamers that isn’t related to sex. You know, stuff like rad, quality products; games with clever storylines - things like that.
I’m not saying that it’s not OK to be pretty or dress up, because both of those activities can provide a lot of amusement for the parties involved. However, I feel that it shows the lack of regard publishers have for their target market (or even the lack of regard the target market has for itself) when they are able to sell stuff to us because they have provided us with something that appealed to our genitalia.
It takes away our pride as gamers when we are so easy to please – especially when we are buying things from paid booth babes or bros who don’t actually know anything about or have any interest in gaming and are there purely to look naked.
The PAX ban on booth babes was the result of a poll conducted within the community that showed the majority of gamers were tired of these vapid, nude people being on display. As I said, E3 had no such ban in place but an interesting article by John Callam has shown that this is a trend that may already be on the rise:
Oh sure, there were women at nearly all of the E3 2013 exhibitors but they were mostly in casuals wearing t-shirts with their company's logo on it. This year at E3, we spotted only a few women who could qualify as a "booth babe". Namely, they were either not wearing a lot of clothes or they had some costumes. To be fair, you could still find booth babes like the ones I mentioned at E3; you just had to go looking for them.
I'm not propogating boring expos without visual displays of any kind and I will use the words of John Peacock to explain, because I think he says it best:
Being beautiful is not a crime.
Flaunt it if you got it – and if you're a geek, male or female, and you're strikingly handsome or stunningly beautiful, and you cosplay as a handsome or beautiful character, more power to us all. Hot geeks are hot.
But really friends, let’s start taking ourselves slightly more seriously and demand quality products from games developers that appeal to our pre-frontal cortex and not our pre-frontal crotches!
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