We Really Stirred Things Up

The GiN exclusive investigation into the plight of booth babes at E3 this year has certainly stirred up a lot of controversy. No fewer than 200 letters from readers arrived the day after the piece was published. Many more continue to pour in, even weeks later.

GiN has always strived to be a community newspaper for the game industry and as such, we have randomly chosen several letters from among those submitted to publish here. We made sure the sample had a mixture of both industry and consumer readers. We think this is the best way to get into the minds of both industry folks and the consumers they ultimately serve.

The split was about 50/50 supporting the piece versus those condemning it. We are putting both views here as we are not afraid to take our licks. Enjoy reading and if you would like to throw your opinion into the ring, write to publisher@gameindustry.com and we may just be able to use your response in the future.

Dear Editor,

Thank you for all of your support of CDV Software Entertainment, especially your great review of our hit RTS game "Sudden Strike." However, I am writing to express my concerns about your recent article called "E3’s dirty little secret."

I understand you are concerned about the moral content at the E3 show"specifically in the area of the exploitation of women in the form of "Booth Babes." I agree with you in general, however, I wanted to clarify a few facts in regard to CDV Software Entertainment.

GiN: Does CDV Software Entertainment de-value women?

CDV Software Entertainment values women. CDV currently has 70 staff internationally and 40 percent are women. Fifty percent of the Managers are women. One of the three directors is a woman. As you know, this is rare in this industry.

GiN: Does CDV Software Entertainment arbitrarily hire beautiful women?

CDV Software Entertainment hired models that accurately represented characters from our games like "Angie Prophet" from Psychotoxic and "Lula" from Lula 3D. Angie Prophet's outfit could be described as more rugged than sexy. Even "Lara Croft" from Tomb Raider is wearing a lot less clothing than this! I understand Lula's outfit could be described as sexy, however, realize we purposely toned down her appearance. Her German counterpart simply wears a thong and has a "DD" chest (see photo on right).

GiN: Does CDV Software Entertainment ignore the moral standards of North America?

CDV Software Entertainment recognizes the differing moral standards between the German and North American market. In Germany we limit the amount of graphic violence we publish. Many games would be banned (such as Duke Nukem 3D). In North America we limit the amount of sexual content we publish. Regardless of the censorship, we do not plan to publish any games with sexual content.

However, E3 is an international show and therefore, we needed to cater to our German and International partners as well as our North American partners. Therefore, we compromised by utilizing a more conservative "Lula."

In conclusion, CDV Software Entertainment supports your efforts to improve the moral standards of this industry. CDV will continue to value women and utilize models that accurately represent characters from our games, and be sensitive to the moral standards between the German and North American market.

Thank you for understanding our perspective.

Sincerely, Ben Smith, CDV Software Entertainment USA Inc.

Dear Editor,

I read your editorial ‘E3’s dirty little secret’. I also was dismayed by the cheap tawdriness of many of the exhibit booths. I think of it as the ‘WWF syndrome’. This is a massive cultural problem for the US exacerbated by the Jenny Smith and the Springers which are also teaching people how to behave, and pushing down the boundaries of what is acceptable behavior. E3 is pretty genteel compared to that trash, but it certainly contains certain similar aspects.

However, not the entire show was that way. Your editorial made it sound like Her Interactive was an island of sanity in the middle of an orgasmic madhouse. You might want to mention the companies that were refraining from using this kind of attention getting device and relying on their games to do the speaking.

Electronic Arts had regular employees working the big booth, not hired models. Next door was NAMCO, which also did not seem to have any BB’s. I am sure there were many other companies doing the same.

Chris ‘Wombat’ Crowell, Electronic Arts

Mr. Wooley, I just wanted to say thank you for an intelligent and respectful article in regard to booth babes. It is a tough job to find some middle ground in this industry between the raunchy rabble of the GoD/UGO fans and the extremely militant feminists that seem to compose most of speakers on this issue.

I am neither one extreme nor the other. Most of the time, as a female gamer, I am not offended by good looking female characters in games and the milder forms of marketing these good looking women does not bother me. However, like you, I feel that the extreme forms of this degradation are out of hand. All I usually ask is keep the marketing relevant and tasteful.

Strippers and exotic dancers have nothing to do with the games I use to help me escape the doldrums of every day life and to relax. That’s only going to remind me of some of the very issues I am trying to escape as a female. While I am a better than average looking female, it doesn’t take more than a couple seconds of watching TV or a movie to see that we are constantly being set up to meet impossible standards. Yes, it does make us jaded, like you said, or at least a little depressed from time to time.

But here’s the REAL issue – I feel your pain in the sense that some people are trying to keep some integrity in an increasingly unidealistic and irreverent world. As insinuated by your article and also your compatriots, the real issue is they don’t care if they make quality games anymore if a little T&A sells the game for them.

Funny thing is, the best selling games and the most highly acclaimed games of all time don’t have such marketing. Where does this leave us? Is this what people want from games: plotless porno? No thanks.

You want my honest opinion – you know what makes that kind of stuff harder to tolerate? The degradation is one thing – but its the incredible lack of intelligence that is assumed in appealing strictly to the baser instincts. I see the same thing happening to games if this isn’t stopped somewhere along the line. It’s the direction of entertainment as we know it: Disposable female roles in Hollywood flicks (are there any Hepburns anymore?) and now games that are heading in the same direction.

Wow! What a rant! I’m sorry. But your articles are very well written and it’s nice to see someone who can see the integrity and the intelligence of this industry is going down (pardon the horrible, but ironically appropriate pun). Let’s hope for better days ahead.

Kind regards, S. Miller

Nate, What were you thinking? Are you gay or something? The booth babes at E3 make the show fun! Where else can we see beautiful blonds with huge hooters running around in skimpy outfits carrying shotguns?

The sexy side of E3 is the best kept secret, not the dirty one. Don't go throwing the spotlight on it! If there are no babes at the show next year, I am going to be one pissed person. And I know what you look like.

Greg Hilleary, Santa Clara, Calif.

Mr. Editor, I was not able to attend E3 this year, however from the pictures I saw on your Website it looked like a pretty good time. I'm not really sure why you have such a problem with girls at the show. All this is done in good fun, is it not?

I read your article and you said that they made more than most of us in a week. Seems to me that to be exploited you have to make a low salary, otherwise you are just appreciated.

What do the girls really have to do? They walk around and people come into the booth to see games. If I was a beautiful bimbo with few skills other than my looks, I would not mind standing there for a few days in a climate controlled building to get a big paycheck. My guess is that the girls you talked to may feel exploited or will SAY they are exploited but what is the alternative for them? They would have to get real jobs, go to school and learn a trade and take a nine to five job. In short, they would have to enter the real world and not get by on their beauty. If you freed them from the "prison" you described, they would be miserable wage slaves like the rest of us.

Sue Anne Grossman, New York, NY.

Mr. Wooley, Bravo! I go to lots of trade shows around the country and I have to say that this problem of having women steal the show has started to get worse. A trade show is supposed to be a venue where we can make business deals, show our products to the press and look for partnering opportunities.

These women encourage non-industry people to go to E3. And all these fans get in the way. E3 tells us each year that only industry professionals will be at the show, and every year I see 17 and 18-year-olds (and younger) running around playing games like it is a carnival or county fair. The simple fact is, if you pay your $300, you can get into E3 and it does not matter if you have any connection to the industry other than being a gamer.

The show needs some serious cleaning. We are considering keeping our meetings behind closed doors next year and not having a grandiose presence out on the show floor.

(name and company withheld upon request)

Nate, I don't want to comment on whether or not booth babes should be at E3 or not. Personally, I think that if they act in a professional manner it is ok, though I don't really have a problem with girls and whips either. You expect that sort of thing at any trade show, and E3 is pretty tame compared to other shows that feature full-fledged porn stars hawking wares. But I have no strong feelings one way or another.

I did want to congratulate you on writing the article. It is nice to see a game publication that is not afraid to cover the industry, and the news surrounding it. I've never seen a non-public relations-type word in most of them. It's great to see a publication that is not afraid to stir up a hornet's nest if need be.

Whatever happens, you have become my primary news source covering the game industry. Keep up the good work.

Dan Glesser, City of Industry, Calif.

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