Get Your Scorecards Out
I've been wanting to create a SFL gaming blog to compliment the games section of the site for some time. To feature extended news, reviews, previews, snippits, gossip and opinion, I had planned to launch with some exciting E3 news, but something else caught my eye...
Earlier this week, my daily morning ritual of grabbing a cup of strong tea and half-heartedly scrolling through Facebook updates with bleary eyes was ‘enhanced’ courtesy of the Golden Joystick Awards who questioned “What better way to kick off the day than to slaver over the E3 booth babes while sipping French coffee and nibbling on a croissant?”
Ignoring their continental coffee and croissant recommendation as am not practiced in the art of simultaneously slavering, eating and drinking, GJA linked me through to a 63 page gallery of this year’s buxom booth babes, as compiled by professional journalist Mike Jackson attending E3 on behalf of Computer and Video Games.com
Sadly, rather than presenting a genuine critique of fashion/costumes or being a celebratory commentary on male and female beauty, CVG UK invite readers to review each photo, which as a collection feature women only, on a “would” or “not with your mate” system. There’s an attempt to lighten the tone with humour indicating that beer might influence any decisions made and it’s interesting to note that the post was published in the early hours of the morning (BST) as the target audience snoozed on so I wonder if there is some savvy, editorial decision-making happening at CVG UK that overrules any potential guilt-ridden, sour-tasting emotion that might accompany creating such a post? Indeed, Mr Jackson distances himself from the piece, making it very clear that the gallery is compiled on behalf of CVG UK and isn’t just his personal selection of impressive ladies, many of whom are truly very pretty. It would be awful to wake up and have the majority of fellow UK journalists call you a chauvinistic, lazy scumbag for doing your job or let’s say, existing. As it happens, it took until around 2pm for many on Twitter (predominately male journalists) to declare this post as rotten.
For me, it’s the choice of words introducing the photos that I’m embarrassed about and fed up with. Ultimately this album has nothing to do with the games or products these girls have been hired to promote and all to do with choosing which girl is worthy of shagging based on their photo alone. I accept that CVG UK is aimed at a predominately male audience but find it lame that rather than empower their readers to encourage females to engage with videogames culture – which can include fashion, design and beauty – in order to create a diverse and magnificent mixing pot of opinions and styles, they have chosen to alienate and degrade whatever female E3 audience they might have by championing the male gaze, potentially inciting more derogatory comments from a small yet powerfully voiced, male audience that many in the industry find insulting and are working hard to silence.
Earlier this week, I enjoyed Helen Lewis writing for Edge Online as she called for Sony and Microsoft to take greater responsibility regarding bigotry online. Helen refers to Mark Sorrell’s brilliant open letter to men that offers ways for male gamers to support women online, where the language used towards women gamers continues to be largely negative. It can't help that audiences frequently are served copious examples of game trailers that focus on displaying the female form in an overtly sexual way, as explored by Sarah Ditum writing for CVG UK last week about the latex clad nuns in the latest Hitman Absolution trailer. Sarah said “My best guess is that they're the product of a hothoused, largely male creative team trying to second guess what a largely male audience wants, and coming up with a febrile funhouse mirror version of someone else's fantasy.” which is exactly what CVG UK have done with their parade of booth babes, taking two steps back as the rest of us try and hobble forward. Whether CVG UK stopped to consider the possible wider implications before posting their pics is unknown.
At the GameCity Prize 2012 launch last month, Lord David Puttnam mused that “If you asked people working during the 1930’s what films would be like in the future, they would never have guessed that they would become a 90 minute narrative. Videogames are at the 1930’s stage of development, they’ve yet to find their form, their shape and if we equate them to film, we must understand that there is a long way to go for them yet.” I would extend this to cover how we review, preview and comment about videogame culture. Until we all take a responsible, collaborative stab at presenting quality gaming content not just for the passionate male gamer aged 18-30 but for wider audiences which should include women for their gaming interests, not solely for their mammary assets and false eyelashes, then this attitude and behaviour towards women will continue to be accepted and sadly promoted.
Not creating such an extensive album of photos would be a clear indication to game developers and the organisers of E3 that there are alternative ways of communicating with audiences. Isn’t it time we agreed that having ladies either on the stamping ground of the show floor to attract herds of ‘industry professionals’ into their booths with their impressive beacon-boobs or starring in games wearing teeny tiny latex costumes is a tired old cliché? Perhaps the least we could suggest is that they employ some booth boys to readdress the inequality? This attitude towards women is certainly not behaviour seen at film festivals or on websites like Sci-Fi-London where inclusivity is celebrated and so ingrained that the idea of using scantily clad models of any sex to promote the genre seems ridiculous. My only hope is that next year, CVG UK will realise that a male audience, nay any audience doesn’t need to see a gaggle of boobs in order to enjoy games coverage.
So, first blog done. I solemnly swear to write about something fun next time!