What's better than a booth babe? A booth babe who actually plays games, says Yvonna Lynn, who founded a modeling agency called Charisma +2 that specializes in providing floor models who are also gamers.
While working at an exhibit at Nintendo's E3 booth in 2005, Lynn noticed that most of the floor models had no interest in the games they were presenting. While she used her breaks trying to see as much of the show as she could, most of the other models would spend their downtime hiding in the back. "I was appalled to find that so few of the girls played videogames," she told CNBC. "I decided then that it would be really fun to run an agency that offered models who are also gamers."
Last year she was finally able to pull it off, launching Charisma +2, an agency that caters exclusively to the videogame industry. Models from the agency appeared at E3 this year and will also turn up at QuakeCon and Comic-Con. Several of the models, including Lynn herself, were asked to pose for a "girl gamer" issue of Playboy; although Lynn declined the offer, five others decided to take part.
Lynn says that while eye candy is nice, models who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the product they're representing are far more interesting to the average gamer. "The gamers love the idea of a booth babe who actually knows how to play games," she said. Charisma +2 currently represents over 100 models, mostly students, who earn $20-$25 per hour at shows, although "specialty models" who wear particularly revealing clothing, give game demos or have other "particular skills with a game" can earn more. And all are required to be genuine gamers.
"I ask them to tell me what their favorite games are," Lynn said. "They don't have to be good. They just have to know it and have a passion for it.. The girls who aren't into [gaming] typically aren't interested in being with Charisma+2."
While modeling at trade shows for a few extra bucks is nice in itself, Lynn said the greater purpose is to help people get an inside track on the industry. Charisma +2 offers other services including voice and motion capture acting; she provided voice work for id's online shooter Quake Live and a former model now works in the studio's QA department. "The main idea is to help these guys and girls get their foot into the door in an industry they normally would not have access to," she said. "That's especially true with the ladies, because this is such a hard industry for women to break into."
Now that's hot.