58: Frag Doll on Frag Dolls

"The Frag Dolls, Ubisoft's team of sexy girl gamers, have engendered controversy since their inception. Originally promoted as a sponsored clan, the latest "About Us" page on the official Frag Dolls site reads, "The Frag Dolls are a team of gamers recruited by Ubisoft to represent their video games and promote the presence of women in the gaming industry." Sure, that's Ubisoft's line on the group, but I wanted to hear about the Frag Dolls from, well, a real Frag Doll." Joe Blancato pierces the veil in "Frag Doll on Frag Dolls."

Frag Doll on Frag Dolls

Here's my take upon several aspects of this issue, from my standpoint.

I am a guy and I like girls, but it is a bad sign to me when I notice a game design group, or publisher, use girls and sexy-marketting to cover up their poor games. Case in point, I absolutely do not play games like Everquest or Bloodrayne for the reason that I just don't care. They look marginally interesting to me, and yeah there's girls, but will it be a game I keep playing for months? Not bloody likely.

Same thing with the Frag Dolls. It's more of a novelty item sponsored by a publisher for marketting purposes. The 'clan' isn't really there to play games and compete, but draw more girl players. What I don't understand is how Ubisoft expects this tactic to attract girls ... it seems to me that it would be more guys who are interested, but I don't work in marketting. My first reaction to that tactic is, "That seems fake..."

I've nothing against girls playing games or absolutely beating guys mercilessly in them, I know several who do, but I think the whole gender argument over games is dumb. If a girl wants to play, let her, if she doesn't... don't force her; same for guys. Games are meant to be entertainment that is opt-in, and marketting to attempt and attract a certain group, gender or ethnicity, etc, is worthless and bad policy in my opinion.

As I prepare my thoughts here (which I'm sure will be considered bias at the onset due to my following preface), it should be known that:

1) I am a friend of the US 'Dolls (to be fair I've not spend any amount of relevant time in contact with the UK team) and not some drooling fanboy. I have spent time with all the ladies at conventions and outside of industry events as well.

2) I have been an active member of their community since January of 2005.

That being said, I will continue with my thoughts. First off, this article is nothing new and presents no new information that has already not been written by someone else. So, suffice to say, I was not shocked by anything I read here. Nor did I believe a word of it. To criticize these girls for doing their jobs seems to me to be quite an unsound arguement. One of the arguements presented here was that the girls were instructed to focus, though not entirely, on Ubisoft products and to steer away from games that could be considered direct competition to the interests of Ubi.

"And when she says they're playing "certain games," Eaglemeare means Ubisoft games - at least publicly."

"We were told not to talk about EA's Battlefield II, as it was a direct competitor to Ghost Recon Advanced Warfighter," she said."

I have YET to understand why this is an issue. The girls work for Ubisoft, they are Ubisoft spokeswomen, so OF COURSE they would discuss their wares and avoid outrightly praising the competition. Did you ever see Michael Jordon wearing Reebok or Adidas shoes? In the time I have known the girls they have NEVER presented themselves in a manner to hide their affiliation with or responsibilites to Ubi.

Next:

"The U.S. branch operates in a similar manner. Go to a convention where the Frag Dolls are in attendance and you'll find beautiful, painted faces throwing T-shirts to crowds of young men; few women flock to them as gaming idols."

I have been to two industry events (MLG Chicago and E3 2006) with the 'Dolls and the above statement is simply NOT true. When the girls are at events they act with the same nonchalant moxy that is often attributed to gamers. To infer that they are there to wave themselves in front of men much like a booth babe (which they are often called unjustly) should be considered an insult to their character in that it questions their intelligence and personal knowledge of the industry. For example, read the blog "Birth of a Gaming Toaster" by member Jinx and you'll see quickly that some girl "with a painted face throwing t-shirts to crowds of young men" is an unfair moniker to be sure.

In response to Siren's comment:

"We're not here to endorse any product or sell you anything. If we say it, it's because we mean it, not because it pays our wage."

This strikes me as a comment that is more a reflection of her lack of understanding as to what she was applying for at the onset with the UK 'Dolls. Let us be clear on one thing, the 'Dolls are most certainly a marketing arm for Ubi. No one, not even the girls, would deny that. So for her to use the fact that the 'Dolls are there to sell a product as a negative issue is like telling a football player not to endorse Nike or the like. People of a particular industry, who also on a personal level enjoy said industry, are the best suited to promote it.

In reference to Siren's website, "To their credit, they don't play up to their femininity," this couldn't be more false. On their site you will pictures not AT ALL unlike those found on the 'Dolls site. And to say (quoting their site)...

"In a pre-emptive strike against the endlessly cynical we want to make it perfectly clear that we have a gallery because we are proud of ourselves, what we do, and what we stand for (and obviously to record our exploits.)"...

...strikes as nothing more than pre-justification for getting people's attention at the onset of their visit in order to get them to remain a little bit longer. And what is more, why is it such a talking point that the girls are..."attractive women who look more at home on the cover of Vogue than PC Gamer." I find an issue here in that this statement IMMEDIATELY plays into the old stereotype of what a gamer 'should' look like. Why can't attractive women be gamers, work for a company to promote their games, and enjoy it? Does their physical attractiveness discount or diminish their actual ability to play games? Are only, as it seems the above quote would infer, fat-pale faced-cheeto stained-social pariahs gamers? This is an issue that is best left for another time.

And finally, should anyone find it suprising that Ubisoft was 'unavailable for comment'? Personally, I would disregard attempts at communication from those who only wish to argue against me after a while. What is more is that the 'Dolls are nothing but accessible. A few moments on their forums will find many responses from the girls themselves defending themselves from the endless cynics in the gaming world. Going further, the VAST majority of topics on their forums have NOTHING to do with Ubi related games or topics. They most certainly talk about other companies. They are NOT there just to use their feminine charms to get you to play Far Cry. And you can find them quite often playing any number of games over Xbox LIVE, and never once will you hear them shamelessly 'selling' the game to those who they are playing with (though they are most certainly within their rights to do so if they so choose).

For once, I would like to ask the gaming cynics (read elitists) to put aside their antiquated notions of what the gaming industry should look like. The gaming industry is not the little brother of the CES anymore. It is a multi-billion dollar industry whose primary concern is to sell their product and to make money. As it stands, the 'Dolls are in said business.

I hope that someday people will learn to leave these gamers alone and go play a game.

...or are the politics more fun to you?

that was a really good article - and makes me feel a lot better as I made it to the final 15 applicants to be a UK Frag Doll and turned down an interview - I've been questioning whether I did the right thing ever since.

I first applied for the job when I saw it was some sort of female game reviewer type post and I thought great! - free games!

Then when I got asked for a photo I got a bit confused and looked up the Frag Dolls website. With my dad looking over my shoulder I saw cartoon versions of the girls swaying xbox controllers round as if they were whips :O *embarrassment*

Also I have later found out about the guy who draws the cartoons of the girls for Ubisoft. He specialises in portraying women incredibly sexily/sluttily but with an air of innocence about them. His entire website is full of tall, beautiful, massive boobed women wearing revealing nurses outfits, bikinis and policeman's outfits. No I'm not kidding! I mean how can Ubisoft say they're not trying to sell sex?

But now to find out that Siren, has left the group for the same concerns that I turned the interview down for - makes me feel like I dodged the bullet a bit. I mean I game with my friends, who already give me a bit of a hard time as I'm a girl and not as avid a gamer as they are (something which I told Ubisoft and they didnt seem at all bothered about) so can you imagine the ripping I would have got if I'd have joined? ooer.

Either way - I'm not sure Siren's new website is that much better...I mean I like what they say in the about bit and I think it's a good idea. But they do seem to have an awful lot of photos of themselves on there...is it really relevant? I do like the one that says 'Ninjas dont sleep - they recharge' though. made me chuckle.

pixie_lady:
Also I have later found out about the guy who draws the cartoons of the girls for Ubisoft. He specialises in portraying women incredibly sexily/sluttily but with an air of innocence about them. His entire website is full of tall, beautiful, massive boobed women wearing revealing nurses outfits, bikinis and policeman's outfits.

Can I have a link to that website? I'm looking for those kind of images for DJ flyers :D

And back on topic... After reading the article, the way I see Frag Girls is simply the same as girly magazines. Women's Day, Cleo, New Idea, all have very attractive women on the covers and inside the magazine.

This is not to attract men though.

Women will buy a magazine based on the picture on the front. That's why they put those pictures on the front in the first place, and continue to. It's the same with advertising - perfume and make-up adverts are a prime example.

Why else do they do it, and why else do women continue to buy this utter crap?

Now, if Ubisoft want women playing their games, why would they use normal looking women?

It's been proved with content that is rubbish that women won't get involved if it has normal people on the cover, so why would that change for content that is good, like video games?

This has nothing to do with the games industry, and everything to do with women and the way they consume advertising.

I'll be honest here - this whole Frag Dolls thing annoys me. They may well be real gamers who enjoy playing of a variety of platform, I honestly don't know. But the fact is that ubisoft made it an issue to have an all girl clan that comes across in videos as more an advertising glimmick than a real attempt to encourage women to join with gaming.

I'd like to point out that I do like women and I do smile happily when I notice women on a game server because I feel they are under-represented on most games.

But ubisoft, as far as I'm aware, never created a mixed sex or all male team, and if they did, they never gave them this level of media attention.

Getting women into gaming is a great idea and I do genuninely look forward to the day when I join a Team Fortress 2 or Call of Duty or MMORPG server and find a 50/50 split of men to women. But I don't feel the Frag Dolls do that - they seem more targeted towards existing gamers (i.e. as eye candy, whether or not they are genunine gamers) rather than new gamers, or to non-gaming women maybe interested in it but not wanting to be the only woman into 'mens games' as the media enjoys demonising games that way.

Maybe the Frag Dolls will encourage women to play games (excluding the Sims series), but I have doubts.

As for the attitude of existing male gamers: I suspect the bulk of those who slag women gamers off are underage retards who spend more time gabing off into their microphones in squeaky tones and spam-typing 'Noob', 'fag', racist slurs, and the like than playing. Certainly, I've never seen sexism statements from TF2 players, but from what I understand, they tend to be more...polite than Xbox Live players, or even other PC gamers. But maybe thats just me.

FunkyJ:

Women will buy a magazine based on the picture on the front. That's why they put those pictures on the front in the first place, and continue to. It's the same with advertising - perfume and make-up adverts are a prime example.

Why else do they do it, and why else do women continue to buy this utter crap?

Now, if Ubisoft want women playing their games, why would they use normal looking women?

It's been proved with content that is rubbish that women won't get involved if it has normal people on the cover, so why would that change for content that is good, like video games?

This has nothing to do with the games industry, and everything to do with women and the way they consume advertising.

.... wait, what? Women are attracted by attractive women!? *looks confused)

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