January 22nd, 2006

Censorship has reared its big ugly head in the 2006 E3 handbook, as Brenda of the IGDA’s Sex SIG pointed out. From the source:

Material, including live models, conduct that is sexually explicit and/or sexually provocative, including but not limited to nudity, partial nudity and bathing suit bottoms, are prohibited on the Show floor, all common areas, and at any access points to the Show. ESA, in its sole discretion, will determine whether material is acceptable.

Who knows who made the call on this one. Their intentions, if misguided, may have been good. Afterall, as Brenda points out, the new restrictions may kill the booth babe phenomenon — though I would bet, no matter what nominally kiddy-safe attitude the ESA is taking, that traditiona won’t be dying any time soon.

Of course, the implications against sex games and erotic content is self-evident. Maybe it was just overlooked; maybe it was a deliberate comment. Either way, this makes a definite statement about the place of sex in the mainstream games market — at least the place E3 would like it to have. And, unfortunately, E3 has sway. Be there or be square.

The whole thing is also a bit baffling, probably due to hypocrisy covered up by funny language. Are we supposed to think that E3 has always been a non-sexified event, only now threatened by boobies in games? Conforming to calm political and parental fears about the (supposedly dangerous) sexual content in games can’t make E3, and gaming, anything other than what it already is. Now all it needs is balls.

The really ironic thing is, sex is being censored because it’s seen as shady. But what makes it shady? Certain not the sex developers. As with sex workers, what makes the topic taboo is the people who are scared of it. Just look at the recent creation of the Sex in Games Conference. Sex in games would like to come into the light. It’s everyone else who’s pushing to keep it a dirty little secret.

After all, in some sense, it’s sexier that way — because it’s shameful. Is that the kind of sexy we really want? Maybe the better question is, Is that the kind of sexy we’ll ever be able to avoid? It’s a vicious cycle. Society marks sex as sinful, nasty, so we grow up associating attraction with shame. Soon enough we can’t deal with sex that isn’t self-deprecating, that’s proud.

And another thing, can we talk about this “bathing suit bottoms” thing? WTF, mate?

Tags: Blog

41 Responses to “Bathing Suit Bottoms?”

  1. Sam Kelly Says:

    Can’t help thinking there’s an anti-authoritarian stream at work here – if sex comes out in the open, it could be viewed as mass-produced, corporate, glossy, controlled by the designers rather than being personal, arising from the game itself.

    Sex is, after all, the ultimate zone of self-expression – this reminds me of 1984, now. I’m not saying that bringing sex out into the open, being proud of it and studying it, is in any way intended to commodify or genericize it, but business always has a synergistic history with research for this sort of thing.

  2. Brummbar Says:

    Good, sez I. A little decorum never killed anybody.

  3. Kelly Rued Says:

    BTW, singling out ‘bathing suit bottoms’ is pure sexism. The ‘man’ doesn’t want me to see any hot male packages at E3. Note there is no rule against bathing suit tops or low cut shirts or “baby doll tees” that resemble painted-on liquid latex until you’re close enough to discern a thread count.

    And yes, a little decorum could very well kill buzz for many titles. Remember the pics from DOA “fashion shows” in past years? You can’t buy that sort of PR *without* half-nekkid women. Does the new policy hurt the latest Mario Party Cart Zelda Damacy type of title? No, but it does restrict the marketing message you can manage for an M or AO title. If E3 wants to focus on kids, that would be cool but it then will push all of the adult game developers over to adult entertainment conventions (taking all that money and press with them). I’m sure most game press won’t mind *at all* having to cover the AEE to get the adult game scoop. ;p

  4. Bonnie Says:

    Sam, I hear what you’re saying, but there’s still a line between bringing things out into the open, and turning them into big business tools. Of course, E3 is very much on the big business side…

    Kelly, sexism of course seconded. You think perhaps this type of policy will polarize the industry into splitting almost into two smaller industries – or at least the image of two different industries? It’s interesting now to see how closely the two are linked. Brenda, for example, was just mentioning a totally non-sex project she’s working on. Strange (or maybe not) but true.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    If E3 wants to focus on kids, that would be cool but it then will push all of the adult game developers over to adult entertainment conventions (taking all that money and press with them).

    Sorry to disillusion you, but there are vanishingly few “adult game developers” at E3 anyway, and just about zero press associated with them. Giving a game an “adults only” rating just about kills its sales — at least outside of roadside “XXX” palaces. E3 booths attract young males with scantily clad young females. That’s far from advertising sex games on the show floor.

    It’s interesting to me that in the original post Bonnie just assumes that “sex is censored because it’s seen as shady” and then assumes people see it as shameful, sinful, and nasty. I guess this makes it easier for you to deal with your own hangups about sex, but don’t flog others with your assumptions. Many see sex as terrific and wonderful, but also private. Many see the sex trade as demeaning and degrading, and largely populated by those who have suffered sexual trauma in their lives. Those who celebrate sex games and the sex industry as an industry run from this truth: those with healthy relationships and sex lives see no need for degrading themselves or others with these games.

    E3′s policy isn’t going to add decorum to the show, but at least it might slow the slide toward making the games industry more of a degrading cesspool than it is.

  6. Khab Says:

    Oh please, if you want to market a title exclusively for M and AO audiences, there are plenty of ways to do that without resorting to half-naked women. If you can’t find a way to market your game without that, then maybe, just MAYBE it’s not really for M and AO audiences, but for pimply teenage boys instead.

    The industry needs to get RID of the teenage boys image, this is a step in the right direction.

  7. MD² Says:

    As too often, Mr/Ms/(whatever, for all I know it may be yet another bot) Anonymous drives us upon too threaded a road.
    Let’s simplify things that way: most humans define their core identity on prohibition, let’s say taboo (“private”), and it has proven a stable choice, mostly healthy enough to fit our needs, as long as it doesnt sink to the level of repression (“sinful”, “shady”).
    It all too often does, and I think it’s necessary to acknowledge the second state is just a natural evolution of the first. Hence in this anonymous post we have “Many see sex as terrific and wonderful, but also private”, trying to convey with its introduction that sex isn’t view as sinful, immediately followed by “Many see the sex trade as demeaning and degrading, and largely populated by those who have suffered sexual trauma in their lives”, which immediately put free/traded /public sex back on the level of social stigma.

    The prohibition/repression model has the advantage of automatically restraining/focusing the desire of those who do not question the social structure they live in to clearly defined objects. Good for reproductivity and destruction of those who do not follow the model (via self-repressive destruction and/or social rejection). Very stable structure. Perfect if you see the human community as being mostly composed of cattle to be dealt with by an elite group (whether you’re philosophical poison happens to be Aristoteles or Mencius).

    “Proles and animals are free” and all that jazz…

    If you want to build a model with greater adaptability I think you’ll have to change to a more evolutive structure (but also, I think one with much more controlled, and far less births. I’ll let you decide whether it’s a good thing or not). But I won’t go into that for now.

    Now on the E3 news, I must say I’m disapointed, but not surprised. We wanted mainstream, we’re going to have it.

    [mode half tongue in cheek]Anyway, I find it pretty ungrateful of the E3 video games community, very forgetful of its roots, and what E3 was before it made millions and had an actual name and stasus, but people will probably answer me “business is business” anyway.[/mode half tongue in cheek]

  8. Brummbar Says:

    I think Khab pretty much nailed it. All this talk of “censorship” misses the point that the content in question exemplifies the sort of puerile pandering that gaming would be well rid of.

    As for censorship, any effort to define and maintain standards is going to be censorious to some degree. What I find funny is that the same crowd which loudly laments the ‘Booth Babe’ thing also gets upset when, at long last, something is done about it.

    Finally, Bonnie wrote…

    “Society marks sex as sinful, nasty, so we grow up associating attraction with shame. Soon enough we can't deal with sex that isn't self-deprecating, that's proud.”

    I’ve got to throw a flag here. While certain people and groups in modern America regard sex in this way, our general “society” is sex-positive and hedonistic to a fault.

    PS – MD2, beware of malformed neologisms like “evolutive.” Think of the children. :)

  9. MD² Says:

    Thanks Brummbar, but this is even worse than you’d thought. It’s not even a neologism, it’s just a French word I forgot to translate and left “as is”. Just poor frenglish.

    Shame on me and my lazy brain ! Shame !

  10. MD² Says:

    Oh, and for the record: I’m not disapointed in the Booth Babes disparition in itself, I always more or less thought of them as a nice nuisance. Too bad for those who enjoyed it, and sad on a economical level for the ladies, but not a big loss. What I don’t like is the way things are being dealt with. It doesn’t look like maturity to me. It looks like the adolescent kid who starts rejecting every display of sexuality with fear in his gut, desperately seeking to to fit-in the adult world.
    If I even remotely make sense.

  11. Brummbar Says:

    You do make sense – but my comparison would be a teacher handling a few unruly students by yelling at whole class to shut up… or else!

    That said, the marketing sleaze-oids who deluge gaming with this stuff are not going to stop on their own accord. At some point, those in positions of power (like, say, the people running a trade show) need to draw a line.

  12. Patrick Dugan Says:

    I think sex in games that “emerges naturally” is absolutely worth defending on principle of artistic integrity. I interpret that to mean sex as an extension of player agency, instead of a cut-scene just thrown in.

    I reckon I’ll sell my games online for the near future, and if theres sex (and there will be) and an ERBS rating of “M”, then I’ll require “age verification” to make a purchase/download. All that means if that the thirteen year old will think the game is even cooler and lie about their age, transact through paypal, and get on to a hopefully life-changing experience. I mean that in a “saw Pulp Fiction for the first time and was inspired” way, not in a “sexually molested” kind of way. In my book subversion is the purest exploit.

    Check out this link from GTxA, for Micheal Mateas’ incidental two cents: http://grandtextauto.gatech.edu/2006/01/23/hello-from-slamdance/

  13. Anonymous Says:

    MD2: Let's simplify things that way: most humans define their core identity on prohibition

    That’s ludicrous and unproveable. You can start with whatever assumptions you want, but they’re still just your assumptions.

    As for booth babes, I’ll be very surprised if this year they aren’t around at E3. They’ll just be wearing more than body paint and dental flosss is all.

  14. frodo Says:

    Kind of makes me want to actually register this year. I wasn’t going to go because of the craziness that E3 usually is, but now that there are these new regulations and the “media-only” day, I am kinda wanting to go…

    I agree with Bonnie about the shameful sex thing, I definitely think that if we portray sex as shameful is society, we proliferate shameful sex, but this isn’t about the start of a trend in the portrayal of sexuality, just about bringing a games trade show back to the point: the games.

  15. MD² Says:

    “That's ludicrous and unproveable.”

    Probably.
    Does it work ? That’s the first most important question as far as generating an explanation is concerned, at least for me (then comes “can I expalin more with less means ?” )
    In truth that’s all I’m asking of a model theory. Mine may not be pleasing but it does what I ask of it for now: it ties up elements of post-anti-oedipean (god is that jargon ugly) theory I tend agree with with elements from the actual Oedipean theory I still can’t refute, all that while keeping an eye on those bastards Bourdieux and Faucault at bay in the corner.

    Sounds pretentious and mostly like an authority argument, which I do not like, but after all why should I try harder since you didn’t even try to pull out a counter argument.

    Also, yeah, they’ll probably still be at E3 for the coming years, only in more mainstream-friendly form, which is the worst part about the whole affair, and the reason I get that “adolescent crisis” feeling instead of Brummbar’s “teacher admonishment” one.

    Patrick: the only important thing about the use of sex, or any other element, in games, or narratives, can I think be reduced to this: does it serve a purpose ? Does it fit with the rest of the project ?
    If it’s purely gratuitious, it just doesn’t belong in your work (except, replies a contrarian part of myself, if the very gratuitousness happens to be the purpose :) ). If it belongs but does not fit, then cut it. Better to highten a whole work by leaving out a great part than spoil everything else by leaving it in. Plus you can still recycle it later.
    Of course the real problem comes when you happen to have half-assed answers to both those questions. ^_^”

    This, since you’ve played it recently, is why I think the first sex scene in Indigo Prophecy can work (didn’t for me but, hey…) while the second won’t. First one can feel cold, mechanical, and it it’s perfect to highlight the loss and absence of love in the relationship… if your choices were going in that direction. Second one just doesn’t fit, it feels contrived… to the point of gratuitousness (too bad it’s also the better edited of the two).

  16. Daniel Bloodworth Says:

    I think it’s funny that you’re against this policy, considering your previous look at the subject: http://www.planetgamecube.com/editorials.cfm?action=profile&id=161

    In any case, I really don’t think this is the place to cry censorship. This doesn’t have anything to do with the content of any games and it hardly makes the “adults only” trade show more “kid-friendly”. It simply keeps E3 from further degrading into a contest of whose booth gives the best lap dance.

  17. Bonnie Says:

    Hi again, Daniel. In response to your point, see this, which Brenda Brathwaite just brought to my attention. She makes a lot of good points, on’s I obviously wasn’t clear enough on :-). Also, I want to point out that this is, for sure, a complicated issue; there’s a fine line between positive intervention and censorship. I just think, Brenda explains, that this policy oversteps its bounds.

    Anonymous, you say: As for booth babes, I'll be very surprised if this year they aren't around at E3. They'll just be wearing more than body paint and dental flosss is all. I totally agree. One of the things that bugs me about this is that it doesn’t seem like an earnest attempt to ban sexist imagery, just half-assed, heavy-fisted banter.

    Frodo, you’re right, this is about bringing a games show back to the games. Accept that, in wording the policy as they did, the E3 gods have eliminated some games from that pool (See the link to Brenda’s piece on the IGDA Sex blog above.)

    Brummbar, I would disagree with you when you say our society is sex positive. I think we’d like to think we’re sex positive, but in the overall sex is still a shameful, or at least a low-class thing to us. Just look at our language. Sex words, like fuck, asshole, and pussy, are our insults. On the one hand, we may say sex is good and healthy, but that barely scratches the surface.

    Khab, again I would refer you to Brenda’s post. And while I agree with you that booth babe-types are for pimply teenage boys, sexual imagery in general is not – and this policy bans it all. It excludes the possibility of sex and sexuality having a legitimate, mature place within the industry. Sex is an important part of life, and of art. If games are going to start taking themselves seriously, they have to accept that. It’s the exclusion of sex, not the inclusion, that makes the games industry childish.

    Also, Anonymous, I totally second MD^2′s point about your hypocrisy when you say that our culture doesn’t think sex shady, and then go on to reinstate the stereotype of sex workers as people with damaged lives. How many sex workers do you know? I don’t mean that rhetorically, really. The sex workers I know are contented, amused, self-empowered people.

    Also also, Anonymous, you should know that in saying there aren’t sex developers or a press for them at E3, you’re talking to Kelly Rued, who happens to be a sex developer, and a top one in her field. I’m just saying, she knows her stuff.

  18. Anonymous Says:

    How many sex workers do you know? I don't mean that rhetorically, really. The sex workers I know are contented, amused, self-empowered people.

    I’ve known enough and its almost always a sad experience. The most common part is that they were abused by an adult male early in their life, though few talk about it. Its a terribly dark and deeply buried secret. Many are addicts of one kind or another, or were thrown out of their homes as teenagers, or were forced into the sex trade by circumstances beyond their control.

    The myth of the “empowered” sex industry worker is as rare as the hooker with the heart of gold. Dig a little behind the smiling faces and you’ll find a resevoir of human misery. The worst part is, they usually think thats how everyone lives.

    No, I don’t expect you to agree or acknowledge that fact. Its too painful for most people who are worshipping or working out their sexuality.

    Also also, Anonymous, you should know that in saying there aren't sex developers or a press for them at E3, you're talking to Kelly Rued, who happens to be a sex developer, and a top one in her field. I'm just saying, she knows her stuff.

    Yeah? So then name off the sex games or press for them at past E3s. How many of them are there compared to all the games there? Adults-only games are not a noticeable part of the E3 landscape.

  19. Brummbar Says:

    “Brummbar, I would disagree with you when you say our society is sex positive. I think we'd like to think we're sex positive, but in the overall sex is still a shameful, or at least a low-class thing to us. Just look at our language. Sex words, like fuck, asshole, and pussy, are our insults. On the one hand, we may say sex is good and healthy, but that barely scratches the surface.”

    “Asshole” is a sex word?

    “Fuck you!” Has always seemed odd to me. If you hate someone, why wish sex upon them?

    (Don’t answer, I know the etymology of the F-Word. :) )

    I have to hold the line on the sex-shame thing. This is more of that self-flattering bullshit invented by the Baby Boomers and ’60s brats to make their elders and parents look “square” and portray their own lack of sexual morality as liberationist and enlightened. “Everybody before and up until us was a repressed, self-loathing square – but not my generation!”

    *****

    Let’s recall, folks, that these restrictions do not involve game content. What you want to put into a game, book or movie is your business (within the law), but the 1st Amendment does not give you the right to demand entrance into someone else’s trade show, retail shop, art gallery or whatnot…

    Remember my game SexQuest?

    http://www.heroine-sheik.com/2005/11/15/developing-sex-at-gamasutra/

    I don’t think I’d have a very strong case arguing my “rights” to have bimbos in butt-floss walking around E3 to advertise the game.

  20. Brummbar Says:

    “The myth of the "empowered" sex industry worker is as rare as the hooker with the heart of gold. Dig a little behind the smiling faces and you'll find a resevoir of human misery. The worst part is, they usually think thats how everyone lives.

    No, I don't expect you to agree or acknowledge that fact. Its too painful for most people who are worshipping or working out their sexuality.”

    Whoa there, hoss. Let’s not go ad hominem (ad feminem?). Bonnie might very well know “sex workers” who are not psycho-sexual basket cases. I am skeptical myself about the whole empowerment angle, but that doesn’t make it impossible. Whatever the case, there’s no call to question her honesty or motives…

  21. Scott Jon Siegel Says:

    If you’re looking for empowered sex workers, then look no further than the Sex Workers Art Show, coming to a college or venue near you!

    Seriously, it’s an amazing show, and goes a long way to humanize the sex industry, and prove that there are people there by choice, who are concious and proud of the lifestyle choices they’ve made. So, there you go. ^_^

  22. Bonnie Says:

    Asshole is a sex word to many, many people :-). You’re right though, i should have gone with something less complicated. Interesting idea with the baby-boomer shame thing, but I happen to think it works the other way around. Those people say, Oh, we’re so liberated, we’re so open and constructive about sex, when really the same misconceptions and preconceptions and general disapproval still satiates society. And you’re right, of course, that E3 is a private event and therefore it’s up to them what to take; it’s just that, because they’ve come to represent gaming, their personal decisions that reprecussions outside of their private sphere.

    Also, Sex Workers Art Show all the way!

  23. Muljo Says:

    Can we clarify something here? Did someone come in and make all sorts of arbitrary new regulations or did they just decide to enforce existing regulations that they should have been following all along? I ask because that’s how an article that I found a link to on another site explained it.

    http://www.eurogamer.net/article.php?article_id=62593

    “This is nothing new, since for many years the ESA has issued instructions along these lines. However, most exhibitors have simply ignored them in the past – hence the appearance of more and more booth babes with each E3 that passes.”

  24. Kelly Rued Says:

    I agree that sex games have been scarce in past years and to people outside of the developing adults-only sex game market *now* it would seem that a ban on sexual content for the E3 show floor wouldn’t be eliminating any big players in the game industry. The IGDA formed the Sex SIG in 2005 partly because there are now several soon-to-be high profile sex games in developments, a few of which are MMOEGs (massively-multiplayer erotic games that could easily outstrip WoW in worldwide subscribers based not on the gamer market but on the *adult entertainment market* combined with the gamer market). In the next 5 years there will be a LOT of sex gaming online and it behooves the mainstream games industry to accept, support, and encourage responsible self-regulated AO erotic game development and marketing.

    We can’t afford to make the same mistakes the film industry did when they pushed sexual content out of the mainstream and marginalized it to the “porn industry” which has proven disasterous for sex-positivity and sexual health in our culture. When we say something is only allowable in private or in a ghetto back alley sort of second-rate status, THAT is an ethical and social values judgment. That is sex negativity almost in a nutshell. :) Nasty, gross, humiliating things are private matters. Things that are obscene and indecent must be kept out of respectable stores and public forums. The arts challenges this notion but people have started to realize (through the anonymity and safety of the internet mostly) that exploring sexuality and talking openly and sharing sexual experiences IS healthy for people. Compare a hooker’s life in Detroit and a hooker’s life in the regulated legal prostitution cities of the world and you’ll understand that it’s the negative, judgmental and disrespectful attitudes we have toward sex that actually harm people the most (not the sex, sex entertainment, or sex work itself). We can agree to disagree but I see integrating honest depiction and respectful exploration of sex into mainstream media as a progressive step in the right direction. I feel the social price of ostracizing sexual content is too high.

    People who see a “booth babe” (or attractive sexually alluring woman in general) as exclusively an object for teenage boy fantasies are just parroting cultural codes that scandalize, trivialize, and look down upon sex (and to a greater extent sexy women… the virgin/whore dichotomy is alive and kicking ass on this thread). Damn, now you’ve made me go all Women’s Studies 101 in public. But seriously, why are booth babes so intimidating, infuriating, annoying, and disrespectable? They are doing their jobs (to attract attention) well if you even notice them and frankly, you don’t know jack about them from the way they appear at work in their silly sex kitten outfits. At the end of the day they are just people doing their job like every other industry person at the show… why does everyone gotta be a hater???? ;p

  25. Bonnie Says:

    Muljo, you’re correct, this policy (according to online sources who have has first hand access to materials) was technically in effect in the past. However, the ESA’s decision to enforce it so strongly this year represents, in my opinion at least, a marked change.

    Kelly, such great points. As for booth babes, I think it’s a complicated issue. Like sex workers, booth babes are often either seen as beautiful bodies or suffering souls, when, like you say, they’re real people who can make decisions for themselves and don’t themselves deserve to be judged. I’ve certainly critiqued the existence of booth babes in the past, but I suppose my main issue with them is the way that other community members react to them. Their presence represents E3′s, and the games industry’s, boys club status. Of course, that’s nothing to point a finger at them about, just the people who hire them and drool over them, but I understand that often the anger gets misdirected.

  26. Brummbar Says:

    Kelly,

    “We can't afford to make the same mistakes the film industry did when they pushed sexual content out of the mainstream and marginalized it to the "porn industry" which has proven disasterous for sex-positivity and sexual health in our culture.”

    Social and legal controls had more to do with that than the “film industry,” which like all businesses is essentially amoral and will gladly sell anything they can get away with.

    “When we say something is only allowable in private or in a ghetto back alley sort of second-rate status, THAT is an ethical and social values judgment. That is sex negativity almost in a nutshell. :) Nasty, gross, humiliating things are private matters.”

    So are sacred, intimate and cherished things. To claim that people who don’t want the public square to be an open-air sex bazaar are “sex negative” is EXACTLY the kind of thing I was referring to with my early Baby Boomer / faux-liberationism comments.

    “Things that are obscene and indecent must be kept out of respectable stores and public forums. The arts challenges this notion but people have started to realize (through the anonymity and safety of the internet mostly) that exploring sexuality and talking openly and sharing sexual experiences IS healthy for people.”

    See previous remark.

    “Compare a hooker's life in Detroit and a hooker's life in the regulated legal prostitution cities of the world and you'll understand that it's the negative, judgmental and disrespectful attitudes we have toward sex that actually harm people the most (not the sex, sex entertainment, or sex work itself).”

    That’s a highly contested view, to put it mildly. Also, I rather think being part of a criminal underworld makes quite a difference regardless of the actual work you do.

    “We can agree to disagree but I see integrating honest depiction and respectful exploration of sex into mainstream media as a progressive step in the right direction. I feel the social price of ostracizing sexual content is too high.”

    That’s quite a jump. “Sexual content” covers all sorts of things. And one might well argue that Booth Babes and their associated baggage are the polar opposite of the honesty and respect you are seeking.

    “People who see a "booth babe" (or attractive sexually alluring woman in general) as exclusively an object for teenage boy fantasies are just parroting cultural codes that scandalize, trivialize, and look down upon sex (and to a greater extent sexy women"¦ the virgin/whore dichotomy is alive and kicking ass on this thread).”

    Oh, puh-leeze. Decorum = repression, is that it? So one’s ability and desire to relate to (and with) women as equals on a respectful, non-sexual level is actually erotophobia? Being able to appreciate women beyond and apart from sex appeal is the very antithesis of “the virgin/whore dichotomy.” Do you regard all men of your acquaintance as either father surrogates or objects of sexual desire?

    “Damn, now you've made me go all Women's Studies 101 in public. But seriously, why are booth babes so intimidating, infuriating, annoying, and disrespectable? They are doing their jobs (to attract attention) well if you even notice them and frankly, you don't know jack about them from the way they appear at work in their silly sex kitten outfits. At the end of the day they are just people doing their job like every other industry person at the show"¦ why does everyone gotta be a hater???? ;p”

    …because the job of the other “industry people” is to showcase the work of their minds and hands, as opposed to having their sexuality exploited?

    PS – As far as “parroting cultural codes” go, you might want to take a second look at the recent one which tells women it’s ok to be used, so long as they’re unapologetic and proud of it. ‘Cause when it’s YOUR boot on your neck, it’s not really so bad, is it!

  27. Sachant Says:

    This has nothing to do with repressing sex. It has everything to do with changing the perception of the industry as not only a boys only club but a club that is about catering to the teenage boy or less mature men in gaming.

    It also has to do with the perception of female devs and industry professionals being anything but additional anomalies at the convention. I’d like to go and not have to fight through the crowds of slavering fanboys and see the games and if I happen to speak to a booth babe (who is hopefully really a hostess /host or spokesperson for the game) I’d like to think they KNOW about they game they represent and are dressed to represent it as well.

    This isn’t about sex. This is about professionalism and an appropriate environment for everyone to do a little business and still have a good time.

  28. Bonnie Says:

    Sachant, I totally agree with your points about booth babes. However, as stated before, the policy the ESA has put forth goes far beyond helpful booth babe control, into game censorship. In my own, they’ve actually tacked the two issues together – booth babes and sex games – in order to win the support of some (gamers like you and me, for example, who dislike booth babes) who, they hope, will overlook the other half of the implications. Put simply: it’s underhanded.

  29. FerrousBuller Says:

    Just to be pedantic: to call this “censorship” implies that E3 is a free and open forum for the exchange of ideas – it’s not. Despite its media-circus qualities, E3 is first and foremost a business conference; and all such conferences have guidelines as to what is and is not permissable on the show floor. Whether these qualify as new rules or simply stronger enforcement is subject to debate. But the ESA is well within their rights to dictate what can and can’t be shown at E3. There are plenty of avenues for companies looking to promote their products freely – such as this newfangled invention the kids call the “Intarweb,” I think – without being restricted by others’ standards.

    That said, I can’t see this as anything more than a cynical, paranoid, reactive, post-Hot-Coffee, ass-covering blanket the ESA has thrown over itself. The rules are so vaguely worded – “materials?” “sexually provocative?” “partial nudity?” WTF? – that they basically give the ESA carte blanche to toss out anything vaguely sexual which gives them the willies. Rather than having a mature debate about the proper place of sexuality in gaming, they’ve simply said, “We’re going to stuff sex into the closet this year; and we can shut you down if we think you’re drawing the wrong kind of attention.”

    Which is pretty typical of this industry: they spend most of their time acting like nothing’s wrong with the way things are done; until there’s a media uproar and suddenly the violator du jour is hidden out of sight until people lose interest and move on. The fact that there is no similar emphasis on violent content is proof of that – because, hey, killing hookers? That’s so 2001.

    X-P

    This doesn’t represent some industry-wide shift towards a more mature, respectful treatment of sexuality (and, not incidentally, women) in gaming. It’s just a temporary surge in faux puritanism until videogames come out from under the media’s baleful Eye once again: the business equivalent of hiding a Playboy under your pillow when your mom suddenly walks into your bedroom.

  30. Bonnie Says:

    Ferrous, I totally agree. One of the debates that’s sprung up around this is whether the newly-enforced rule can really be bad when it’s meant, in part at least, to stop booth babe-dom. My point is that it means to do no such thing. Or, more specifically, it has no “good” intentions. Like you say, it’s the ESA covering it’s own ass, and, through careful wording, putting themselves in control.

  31. FerrousBuller Says:

    Right: this isn’t about the ESA wanting E3 to be more mature; it’s about them wanting to avoid controversy. And while the desire to avoid unwelcome publicity is understandable, the sheer hypocrisy of their approach is maddening. At least the pr0n industry is up-front about what it’s all about; the ESA just seems to want to shift in the winds.

    And unless there’s a good pre-approval process, it’s pretty rude to the exhibitors too. As puerile as we may find them, hiring and costuming booth babes is still a professional business expense, which has to be scheduled and budgeted in advance. Now they have to worry about the ESA nixing their display at the last minute because, say, Sen. Clinton has a public hissy fit about games again? That seems unprofessional to me. The ESA is supposed to do what’s in the best interests of its members: having clear, consistent rules about what goes on at E3 seems like it would be far more useful than this vague, mealy-mouthed pronouncement of theirs.

  32. Bonnie Says:

    Agreed. One of the biggest issues here isn’t the policy, it’s the policy’s purposeful ambiguity. They’re making sure they can pull whatever they want, whenever they want it.

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