In Defense of Booth Babes

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I never go to E3 and thus don't care. My favourite part is the game journos who go on and on about the booth babe issue (is it demeaning? is it good for the industry?), without realizing that the general public only sees a handful of photos which are mildly entertaining at best. If I never saw another booth babe picture, I don't think I would even notice.

If a game needs unrelated sex innuendo to be sold, it's not a good game to begin with.

And the argument that booth babes are there as an band-aid to the fact that women don't get fairly represented in videogames is just ridiculous.

Not only it doesn't patch things up, it actually makes it worst, by enforcing the idea that relating videogames with scantily clad mildy hot women is good, instead of relating it to relevant and influential content.

Just because sex sells, it doesn't mean it should be used to that end.

If I want to see hot women, I prefer going to the beach in a sunny day. I can guarantee the sight of many more of those. And better yet, without relating my sexual desire to the content of a well executed videogame, since one has very little to do with the other.

This is the most disappointing article I've read in The Escapist and hope that it's not marking a new standard for writing quality here.

tendo82:
In Defense of Booth Babes
In an E3 forum topic the other week, a user predicted more awkward interactions between fanboys and booth babes.

Microdamus has predicted many things for the future of gaming, but as the future is uncertain, Microdamus maintains that Fester's Quest will make its way to XBLA.

I love Booth Babes, I just hate their Fake Enthusiasm that some of them bring to E3.

Videogames tend to feature an overwhelming amount of men with a few token videogame girls thrown in for good measure.

!??!?!?!?!?!?!

Whaaaaaaaat?

Pardon me, but I was under the impression that a large portion of games today ALREADY have tons and tons of sexified women in them. Maybe not as far as the eye can see, and certainly not always as playable characters, but Hot Chicks are a MAJOR part of the gamer-oriented gaming experience. So bzzzzt, wrong, this is a lousy justification for why there MUST be booth babes.

The rest, okay, that's a bit more interesting. Still, we live in a culture where the objectification of women is an everyday, common thing. And in a culture where many men feel ENTITLED to the right to objectify. Booth babes are fun and sexy, yay, they're back, woo hoo, hot girls and video games, schwing! ...I'm sure that's real great for all you guys out there. Speaking as a girl, I feel a bit alienated. Or a lot alienated. It's plainly obvious who all these games are for, if they're being promoted by dressing up some actresses and thrusting them in the general direction of the gaming public.

MegMurph:
Sex sells! I've seen it work! And it makes for a fun time had by all!

I'm not sure what question you think "sex sells" is an answer to.

Do you think anybody is unclear on the reason why there are booth babes?

No; everybody knows sex sells. The question is whether using the sexual objectification of women to sell products is healthy. What is unclear is whether "a fun time is had by all."

Of course, we're not talking about merely the time had at a game convention. The funny thing about booth babes is that virtually no fans of video games ever interact with them. Only a tiny, tiny percentage of the gaming population attends conventions. To the question of games and sexuality, they're irrelevant.

But they're also the topic at hand. And the issue is whether the time a person spends with a booth babe affects how he or she will interact with women and girls afterward.

What's interesting is that the good people who hire the booth babes count on these lasting effects. Their hope is that potential customers will confuse their desire to have sex with the booth babe with the desire to buy a particular game. Customers can't nail the live girl, but at least they can play the game she was standing next to.

Is this a healthy behavior? Probably not. Does it lead to further unhealthy behaviors, such as measuring the value of women and girls according to how well they might sell sex? Probably.

Do other practices in people's lives countervail these influences? Sure.

Evaluating the impact of these things is difficult. It does help, however, to ask the right question in the first place.

Yep, boobs are good.

I completely and utterly disagree with this article in every facet and sense of the word. If a game needs to demean women by using scantily clad models to attract patrons, then it was probably shit in the first place. Use your money on telling us why the game is good, not to waste on stupid crap like this. And "LOL but bewbs r hawt!!!" is not a valid argument, nor is that games don't have enough sex in them or whatever.

(By the way, I'm a 15-year-old boy. Deal with it.)

I don't quite get this article. Booth babes aren't just a sad fantasy for the slavering masses because...

1) Games don't have enough sex in them. Therefore we must hijack this form of media as a monument to our libido as well.
2) Women characters in video games are poorly-written quota fillers, so having more scantily clad actresses about will... I don't know, really. What was the point here?
3) They make things awkward and you enjoy laughing at fanboys.
4) We have been objectifying women for years, so why stop now, I guess?
5) E3 is just a big convention, with all the tragic social failure that implies.

None of those points, on examination, hold up. So, what is the article trying to say? Is it an actual intellectual defence of fantasy-outfitted women? Is it an elaborate way of saying that the writer just likes looking at boobs? Is it a well-hidden attack on the 'sex sells' culture of today? What is it?

I am in Shamus Young's camp on this one. E3 is superfluous now that the internet exists and trade shows scare me. They are cacophonies of nonsense in praise of something that may be completely different from what they show us. The industry should be shearing away from the adolescent image. The average age of gamers is 35 years old. The consumers have grown up, why don't the products?

Its like any other trade show. The good food show hires promo girls, the motor show hire promo girls, launch parties hire promo girls. Its part of life.

Why should an industry where none of the males can even talk to women, never mind try to represent them, be expected to be above this culture?

Its part of life in many, many, industries. You dont like it? I believe most of the middle eastern countries shy away from it, you could move there.

Ray Huling:

What's interesting is that the good people who hire the booth babes count on these lasting effects. Their hope is that potential customers will confuse their desire to have sex with the booth babe with the desire to buy a particular game. Customers can't nail the live girl, but at least they can play the game she was standing next to.

Wow. I think you're really reading far more into a booth babe than is there. Nobody in their right mind thinks putting a pretty girl next to a booth is going to get you to buy their game when you're out in the real world. "Oh, hey, they had a sexy chick at their booth, I'll absolutely buy their game because I'd like to bone her!" No.

The point of the booth babe is, quite simply, to get you to look in the direction of the game. The pretty girl is the bait -- the game is the hook. E3, and other shows like it, are overwhelming collections of merchandise, noise, and images. Getting you to notice a particular product in that sea of sensory overload is no small feat. Some companies do it with size -- Activision's booth, for example, was jaw-droppingly massive. Others do it with theater -- the games in Warner Bros. booth had some fantastic props, like a playground for FEAR 2, and a cell for Arkham Asylum. And some simply rely on a sexy girl in a tiny outfit who'll smile at you, take your hand, and lead you over to the game display.

Susan Arendt:
Nobody in their right mind thinks putting a pretty girl next to a booth is going to get you to buy their game when you're out in the real world. "Oh, hey, they had a sexy chick at their booth, I'll absolutely buy their game because I'd like to bone her!" No.

All advertising that has ever existed disagrees with you.

Here's another way of illustrating the point: "bill hicks" "drink coke"

Ray Huling:

Susan Arendt:
Nobody in their right mind thinks putting a pretty girl next to a booth is going to get you to buy their game when you're out in the real world. "Oh, hey, they had a sexy chick at their booth, I'll absolutely buy their game because I'd like to bone her!" No.

All advertising that has ever existed disagrees with you.

Here's another way of illustrating the point: "bill hicks" "drink coke"

And when the girl is in an ad for the game, sure, because you can go right out that second (or perhaps in a week or two) and buy the game. But in the case of E3, the game is many months, sometimes years away from release. No girl in the world is that sexy.

Not enough pictures of booth babes.

Susan Arendt:
And when the girl is in an ad for the game, sure, because you can go right out that second (or perhaps in a week or two) and buy the game. But in the case of E3, the game is many months, sometimes years away from release. No girl in the world is that sexy.

Sexy enough to inspire positive remarks from a journalist?

Ray Huling:

Susan Arendt:
And when the girl is in an ad for the game, sure, because you can go right out that second (or perhaps in a week or two) and buy the game. But in the case of E3, the game is many months, sometimes years away from release. No girl in the world is that sexy.

Sexy enough to inspire positive remarks from a journalist?

The game journalists I've met are more likely to mark a game up or down based on the console its on or the team that designed it than they are to give it extra credit for having a pretty girl at its booth.

Susan Arendt:

Ray Huling:

Susan Arendt:
And when the girl is in an ad for the game, sure, because you can go right out that second (or perhaps in a week or two) and buy the game. But in the case of E3, the game is many months, sometimes years away from release. No girl in the world is that sexy.

Sexy enough to inspire positive remarks from a journalist?

The game journalists I've met are more likely to mark a game up or down based on the console its on or the team that designed it than they are to give it extra credit for having a pretty girl at its booth.

Well; as long as we both agree that the game itself isn't all that important.

Ray Huling:

Susan Arendt:

Ray Huling:

Susan Arendt:
And when the girl is in an ad for the game, sure, because you can go right out that second (or perhaps in a week or two) and buy the game. But in the case of E3, the game is many months, sometimes years away from release. No girl in the world is that sexy.

Sexy enough to inspire positive remarks from a journalist?

The game journalists I've met are more likely to mark a game up or down based on the console its on or the team that designed it than they are to give it extra credit for having a pretty girl at its booth.

Well; as long as we both agree that the game itself isn't all that important.

No, I never said that at all. I'm not sure where your jaundiced view of game journos comes from, but it's not one I share.

Susan Arendt:

No, I never said that at all. I'm not sure where your jaundiced view of game journos comes from, but it's not one I share.

Really? You just argued against the objectivity of the game journalists you've met.

Unless you're telling me that you're okay with the practice of marking a game according to the console it's on or the team that developed it, rather than on the qualities of the game itself?

What are you saying here?

I like the concept if only because it livens up a convention of game trailers.
The term "Booth Babe" just makes me think of Jim_Doki and his hot storm trooper avatar.

Ray Huling:

Susan Arendt:

No, I never said that at all. I'm not sure where your jaundiced view of game journos comes from, but it's not one I share.

Really? You just argued against the objectivity of the game journalists you've met.

Unless you're telling me that you're okay with the practice of marking a game according to the console it's on or the team that developed it, rather than on the qualities of the game itself?

What are you saying here?

No, I said that they would be more likely to have bias for or against a game based on its console rather than whether or not a pretty girl was there. Which doesn't mean they are all biased, just that if they were, it wouldn't be because of a booth babe.

That said, of course I've met journalists who were biased towards or against particular platforms. I've met others who would laud anything by a particular publisher, because they were friends with them. I've met journalists who sang games' praises because the publisher sent them on an expensive junket. And I've met journalists who've done their best to accurately portray a game's strengths and weaknesses based on their own experiences and observations.

Susan Arendt:
That said, of course I've met journalists who were biased towards or against particular platforms. I've met others who would laud anything by a particular publisher, because they were friends with them. I've met journalists who sang games' praises because the publisher sent them on an expensive junket. And I've met journalists who've done their best to accurately portray a game's strengths and weaknesses based on their own experiences and observations.

And I've met game journalists who would say anything in print to impress a girl, even if there's simply no possibility in the world that the girl will be impressed.

Look: anecdotes don't hold sway here. There's just the fact that marketing guys hire booth babes to draw attention and elicit positive reactions to the game they are marketing. This practice deviates in no way from any other use of sex in advertising.

You're saying that this form of marketing either doesn't work or has as its goal only to catch the eye of passerby, then quickly recede into the background with no further effect. In the one case, you're saying the marketing guys don't know what they're doing, i.e. that sex doesn't sell. In the other, you're being either disingenuous or naive.

There is a qualitative difference between using a live girl in a bikini for advertising and using a big stand and flashing lights. "Fantastic props" work differently from physical touching by half-naked women.

How do they work differently? Well; the latter means to arouse sexual desire in the target consumer. Sexual desire is different from other desires.

I know this is basic stuff, but you are equating booth babes with a playground display and dismissing the possibility that a journalist could exhibit a bias in his writing due to a desperate hope to get laid.

You're kind of arguing against human nature and easily observable day-to-day life.

Ray Huling:

Susan Arendt:
Nobody in their right mind thinks putting a pretty girl next to a booth is going to get you to buy their game when you're out in the real world. "Oh, hey, they had a sexy chick at their booth, I'll absolutely buy their game because I'd like to bone her!" No.

All advertising that has ever existed disagrees with you.

Here's another way of illustrating the point: "bill hicks" "drink coke"

I remember reading a study a while back, where they took a bunch of subjects and had them view advertisements (some of which were quite racy). In the pool of men and women, when asked to recall the brand being promoted, only 10% of the men and half of the women could recall the brands in there sexualized ads. Considering that men are usually the targets of hyper-sexualized advertising... only 10%? That's pretty terrible. It would me more probable for Bill Hicks to be excitedly explaining to his friends that he saw a naked women masturbating during a commercial break than he would to be drinking a metric fragton of coke.

Now, sex does sell, but it does it by putting you in an altered emotional state where you are more likely to make an impulse buy (and men have been proven to be more willing to take risks then women when they are hot and bothered). This is why click-adds with boobs do so well: clicking a banner ad is an impulse buy. So is putting 20s into a stripper's G-string.

However, that same emotional state is taxing on certain parts of brain, including the part responsible for memory and focus. You notice some guys will have brain-farts if they are around a hot woman? That's what's happening: a portion of their energy is going towards maintaining an erection and is being taking away from certain cognitive abilities. All fine and good if the subject can make the buy right the fuck now, but if they have to wait then the probability that they will remember what it was they were to buy exponentially diminishes... to the point where only one out of ten of them will actually remember what they were suppose to buy.

So... so much for the sex-sells angle that many are using in justification of the Booth-Babe/Beef. If you could by the game from the booth at that very moment it would work, but you usually can't. Worse case the guy in question will be too wrapped up in his penis to remember what game the girl was trying to promote in the first place.

The OPs article was likely written in response to that model that got removed from an event in China for being too reveling, and PAX events having (and enforcing) dress-codes for booth-babes. Either they have caught onto something or they are simply trying to classy-up the event (a common fear among people in gaming culturing is ending up like comic books).

As for the fantasy argument (as in its selling a fantasy to gamers) unless yours a teenage boy or a Hikikomori-esc shut in, this will do one of two things: 1) nothing, 2) offend. In the words of Daniel Floyd this sort of thing "makes women feel alienated and men feel manipulated."

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