>Link roundup: Booth Babes

>Welp, I’m going to be too busy for the next several days to post anything here, so I thought I’d post a link-roundup. I’ve been collecting links about booth babes for possible future posts, so I thought I’d share them here for your edification. I’ll have more to say on the subject at some point after I return.


E3 Booth Babes

(2006) E3 Bans booth babes

Except… this year the booth babes came back

The Best of E3’s 2010 Booth Babes. (I love how in every picture, this guy has the same douche-y smile on his face. I certainly hope this is the closest this creep ever gets to touching real women. Yech.)

Interview with a booth babe (IGN really asks the tough question! Way to be awesome journalists, guys!)

In defense of booth babes (Women should have the freedom to dress in skimpy costumes and get paid not nearly enough money to be pawed at and ogled by mouth-breathing men. Anyone who disagrees is a communist and hates freedom!)

E3 booth babe search

Games marketing at E3. (Notice how all the women in these photos are babes and how almost all the men are execs/devs giving talks?)

Tokyo Game Show

Booth babes at Tokyo Game Show. (This guy repeatedly mentions how he’s “against booth babes”, but all his babe photos are posed… Not sure what to think.)

Broken and Destroyed Booth Babe (Now with horrific comments!)


Booth babes at China Joy. (Booth babes in cages?? WTF??)


PAX has banned booth babes in the past, but apparently they’re reconsidering.

>Porn as advertising (really NSFW)

>Okay, so it turns out that I have stuff that I want to say about Evony, though I’ll be talking more about its advertising spin-offs than the game itself. Anyway, this blog isn’t really what I’d call SFW, but this entry is really, really NSFW. You’ve been warned…

For those of you who have somehow managed to avoid the horror that is Evony, Evony (formerly Civony) is a “free” browser-based MMO run by a company that is noteable for its connections to Chinese gold farming. They’re also pretty famous for intellectual property theft, having stolen its art from Age of Empires and its fonts and gameplay from the Civilization series. All of this is bad enough, but they decided to really go for the gold in classiness with their advertising campaign that can best be summarized as… well… this:

(Compilation taken from the Gallery of the Absurd.) And there’s more. So, so much more. Go to Google Image and search for “Evony ad” to see this and WORSE. (No, really.) Jeff Atwood summarized this advertising campaign best when he said:

“Thanks for showing us what it means to take advertising on the internet to the absolute rock bottom … then dig a sub-basement under that, and keep on digging until you reach the white-hot molten core of the Earth”.

So, there’s that. Evony has pretty quickly gained itself a reputation as “the most hated game on the web” because of it’s scummy advertising campaign – which makes you think that other developers would be hesitant to follow their lead. Right? Unfortunately, perhaps not…

What? What’s going on here? Come play my lord? Free to play? And look at the ad on the left! The “Start Game” button is right over the girl’s crotch! You’ve got to be kidding me!

But, oh wait… World of LordCraft is just the guys behind Evony again. This time, unsurprisingly, they’re ripping off WoW instead of Age of Empires and Civ. Shocker. Okay, I guess this is a false alarm. Surely no one else would be crass enough to use these same advertising ploys, right?

Hmm. Evony. Civony. And… Caesary? Caesary is another translated Chinese browser-based online strategy MMO. Coincidence? Maybe. The jury is still out on whether or not Caesary is by the same people who did Evony and Civony. So, I guess we’ll set aside Caesary for now.

Okay, what the heck. Civony, Evony, maybe Caesary, and now Kingory? What’s going on here? These ads don’t have the “my lord” in them, though they do have a hot cleavagey girl. Amusingly, Evony claims that Kingory is a copycat of Evony, which is kind of like Britney calling Kelly Clarkson a no-talent hack. (Takes one to know one?)

Hey, check it out! Here’s a free MMO that’s making fun of the Evony ads! And both of the characters in the ad are wearing clothes! That’s encouraging. Except…

Dammit, Fiesta. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. I mean, okay. Yes this isn’t as bad as stealing girls from the covers of porn DVDs for your ads. But still, this is definitely a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

Still. All of this is sort of encouraging. Maybe it’s just the Evony spin-offs and copycats who are doing this porn as advertising thing? Maybe?

God dammit. So, there’s this. I haven’t been able to find anything suggesting that this might be the same people, and descriptions I’ve read of the gameplay suggest that this probably isn’t the same people. (It sounds more like a Korean free MMO than a Chinese Evony-type game.) How discouraging.

It really seems like the advertisers were looking at the Evony lesbians ad and thinking how to “improve” on it.

Determining Marketing Strategy: A Short Play in One Act

ALLODS EXEC: Boobs are great, but lesbians are better. Our new ad should have lesbians.
ALLODS MARKETER: Good choice, my lord. I mean, sir.
ALLODS EXEC: We need to make our lesbians more enticing than those Evony lesbians.
ALLODS MARKETER: Well, how about making them fairies? Wings make anything sexier.
ALLODS EXEC: I like where you’re going.
ALLDS MARKETER: Also, Evony’s lesbians seem pretty tame.
ALLODS EXEC: I agree. I think our lesbian fairies should be rubbing against each other. But not in a porn way, in a classy, sexy way. In a “I’m turned on that two fairy chicks are rubbing their fairy boobs all over each other” kind of way.
ALLODS MARKETER: I like the way you think, sir.

…Ugh. Okay. So maybe it’s just Allods? Maybe everyone else is just going to stick to cheesecake advertising?

GODDAMIT. I mean – “deep character skills”? Is that some kind of joke? But hey, at least these online MMOs can’t sink any lower. Right? …Right?

Wait. Wait – really?


>It’s not just the game companies

>I’ve been lampooning game developers here, but please don’t think that it’s just the developers that are guilty of sexism and that gamers themselves are totally innocent. No, gamers are just as guilty as the publishers. While you can find sexist gamers in just about any portion of the hobby, it’s usually true that the most horrific behavior comes out on Xbox Live servers or in StarCraft II ventrillo servers.

So, first up: “Xbox Girls Get Revenge” (CollegeHumor). (Really, REALLY NSFW)

I found this to be pretty amusing, though I recognize that as far as satire goes it’s still pretty offensive. I wanted to link to this, though, to highlight the kind of abuse that women can be subject to by their fellow gamers. Sadly, it’s a trueism that Normal Person + Internet + Audience = Total Fuckwad, and this phenomenon only exacerbates the abuse that is heaped on female gamers when it comes to venues like blogs and official forums. But hey, don’t take my word for it…

[Note: All spelling and grammar errors left as is. All links are added by me for emphasis.]

Dungeons and Dragons
from Gender violence in gaming (Astrid’s Parlor)

I would love to see a ranger with favored enemy: women just for the lulz. It’d atleast be different. And would ward off those annoying chaotic neutral male playing females I hate so much…

…God-damn I wish there was a FATAL d20. I love that book, but I definitelly don’t feel like attempting to run or play in a game with such draconic mechanics! As far as personal gaming experiences, no. I havn’t had the pleasure of being an overly misogynistic or gay bashing game. And my gaming career has suffered cause of it. That sounds friggin’ awesome.

… when there’s demons attacking your soul and dragons eating entire villages. Smacking a woman around for speaking outside of form just doesn’t have the sortof shock value it would have in a mundane world like ours…

— “JimProfit”, entire post

[In response to a post where a player objected to a campaign setting where misogyny and gender violence was common and the DM changed it as a result of that complaint.

Was the world really the problem or was it your problem and you decided to make it the groups problem?

As a PC you could have had a chance to change things if you could deal with it for a while. If your DM had said “This is the way things are and no one in the world could ever change it” I can see that being upsetting and warranting a discussion. But, hey, it probably made you feel really good forcing change of the whole world with no effort and making everyone else play in the mystical (b)land of “Everyone’s Equal Because I Say So“, which is what’s unacceptable in my book.

–“RubicantX”, entire post

[In response to a post questioning “Misogyny for the lulz”]

Oh ****. I thought the concept of the man-hating feminist was hyperbole. I now see that it is reality. I guess its time all of us men packed our bags and got ready to be put in death camps.

— “MusicOfCre”, entire post

[Editor’s note: Oh! Godwin’d!]

World of Warcraft
from The New Fountain in Dalaran’s Central Square [A complaint that a statue of heroes of the war against the Lich King has ONLY male heroes and not a single female hero]

How unnecessary. You’re complaining about females being unrepresented in a fictional universe that bares little parallel to our own. It would matter if females were slaves of males in this game, it’s not real life.
–“Emmelin”, post #5

Women and their freaking opinions about everything just pisses me off, back to the kitchen I tell you.
–“Xiu”, post #10

from ***ty Costumes at Blizcon

[On – why do women wear skimpy costumes to BlizCon?]

I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the view, I just don’t understand why girls like to do it so much.
— “Maelan”, post #10


from Are You Sexist? (Team Liquid forums)

Do you think women are intellectually equal to men? Do you think they have the same perseverence? Do you think they are as rational? I ask this because my experience stresses this claim so strongly, especially that they are not as perseverent or rational. … they are also more emotionally impulsive about long-term loving and hating (guys will fight you then offer you a beer, a woman will pick at you for years then just come back).
— “-_-“, entire post

No they aren’t equal. They CAN be intellectually equal to men, but only in book smarts. Street smarts? They have none. They are too emotional, too. They don’t think rationally, but base everything on their emotions.
— “SweeTLemonS[TPR]”,entire post

I’ve said it before, ill say it again
— “BigBalls”, entire post

obviously it’s wrong to judge an entire group of people based on a single person, but i find it that, in most cases, women are inferior to men intellectually. so i guess i’m sexist.
— “ItchReliever”, entire post

Yes, I am sexist. I do not believe they can are equals of men. They probably don’t want that either.
— “Cambium”, entire post

…okay, here’s where I have to stop for now – it’s just getting too depressing.

>Jiggle Physics Has Not Been Good For Fighting Games

>Back in the dark ages when dinosaurs roamed the earth, I had a huge addiction to Soul Edge for the PlayStation 1, which later became the Soul Calibur series. I played the subsequent games – Soul Calibur 1 and Soul Calibur 2 as well. And sure there was fanservice – what fighting game didn’t have fanservice?

Okay, so sure in Soul Calibur 2 Sophitia and Cassandra’s skirts flipped up into panty shots when they moved. Whatever. The thing I love, love, love about Soul Calibur is that the gameplay is actually affected by a character’s chosen weapon style. I took enough tai chi to appreciate how Xiang Hua’s sword technique works, and I enjoy playing Seung Mina and Kilik since they use staff techniques that I learned in tae kwon do. The various martial traditions appeal to the martial arts geek in me.

But Soul Calibur 2 was the last game in the series I was able to tolerate. The fanservice was moderate in Soul Edge, a bit more in Soul Calibur, and actively irritating in Soul Calibur 2, but after that it was actively intolerable. And the most recent game, Soul Calibur 4 is downright ridiculous!

So, first of all, Soul Calibur introduces several new female characters:

(From left to right: Setsuka, Angol, and Tira) All of these characters have pretty ridiculous character designs. How exactly am I supposed to find a woman with an umbrella and platform flipflops intimidating? With those breasts and those shoes, she looks like she’s about to fall on her face. And what about Angol? What the hell is with the crotch floss and the stripper boots? And Tira’s costume can’t even be called a costume, really. It’s just a few pieces of torn fabric.So all of these are pretty bad. But what makes all of this worse is when you compare pictures of existing characters from Soul Calibur 2 and Soul Calibur 4…

So on the left, we have Sophitia from Soul Calibur 2. And yes the costume is ridiculous. She’s going to prance around in that ridiculous top with no bra and just a few pieces of string holding her in? And the built-in panty-shot physics? But as ridiculous as the Sophitia from Soul Calibur 2 is, she is still within the realm is what physically possible in a human being without surgery. She’d be a genetic lotto win, but it could still be possible.Compare that with the Sophitia on the right from Soul Calibur 4. We’ve gone from “extremely improbably but still possible” to absolute abomination. Her breasts are twice as large as her head, for Christ’s sake!

We see pretty much the same thing with Cassandra in terms of proportions, but her costume has also gotten much worse as well. In the space of two games, she’s gone from supermodel in a short skirt to a total freakshow. The skirt is gone, there’s a giant cleavage-hole, and her boots have gone from ankle boots to stripper boots. And as awful as these transformations are, Sophitia and Cassandra weren’t even “sexy characters”!
(I wasn’t able to find anything showing all of Seung Mina’s costume from Soul Calibur 2.) Is the economy that bad in the Soul Calibur world that none of these women can afford to entirely cover their breasts? Do they use cloth as currency? Because what’s with this costume? This is just awful, especially since Seung Mina is one of my favorite characters. But this still isn’t as horrific as…

Taki is one of “the sexy characters”. The body paint outfit was introduced in Soul Calibur 2. Taki’s proportions on the left are definitely problematic, but the Taki on the right is just cartoonish. What woman has boobs that pointy? They’re like bazookas attached to her chest – and just look at the camel toe! I imagine she winds up pulling spandex out of her crotch after every fight.

Last we have Ivy. Ivy’s dominatrix outfit (her default, btw) was pretty ridiculous to begin with in Soul Calibur 2, but it’s gone from an outfit to a few pieces of dental floss. Her breasts are bigger than even Taki’s, and whenever you Google Soul Calibur 4 images of Ivy are usually the first ones to come up.

I just don’t get it. I mean, what about any of these women is attractive? I mean, if I was a man I’d be insulted by shit like this. Clearly the design team made a decision that big breasts move product, but do they really think that male gamers are so shallow that they’ll buy anything with huge tits all over the cover? Game developers have made that mistake before – just look at Acclaim and BMX XXX.

The really sad part is that it didn’t have to be this way. Check this out:

This is one of the new characters, named Hilde, and she’s awesome! The armor, the expression – they’re fantastic! She kicks all kinds of ass! Why couldn’t they have designed more female characters like Hilde? Why stuff the game full of walking freak shows? I really wish I could understand the decision making process here. If any of these women were real, they’d look like Maxi Mounds. They certainly wouldn’t be able to swing a weapon, much less fight effectively.

It’s disgusting, and it’s disappointing. As much as I love the gameplay of the Soul Calibur series, I’m certainly not about to buy any future games in the series. And I certainly hope that gamer men aren’t as shallow as Namco’s marketing department seems to think they are.

>Mixed Messages in D&D 4th Edition

>So it has to be said that Wizards has made strides in improving how women are portrayed in 4th Edition D&D. It’s certainly a lot easier to find images of women who are both fully clothed and active. You also see a lot more pictures of women as fighters, where in the past any woman in armor was by default a cleric. Furthermore, I’ve been quite pleased by some of the images I’ve seen of strong, competent, not sexualized women.

The problem is that Wizards seems to want to have their cake and eat it too. It seems like for every fantastic image I see, there’s somewhere between one and two really awful ones. What’s worse, when you see women on the covers of 4E books they’re almost always cheesecake women and not the positive strong women I just mentioned. (Case in point: The Adventurer’s Vault 2, Dungeon Delve, The DMG 2, The PHB, The PHB 2, The PHB 3, and too many others to count.)

So I thought I’d do a little side-by-side comparison of some really great pictures of 4E women right next to some really awful ones. These are images that I found in two threads (good art, bad art) in the Astrid’s Parlor forum on the Wizards site. As such, I don’t own the rights to any of this. See the end of this post for the cover-my-ass boilerplate.

(Noteably, unlike my last post, there are larger versions you can click through to of the below for more detail.) First up we have:

So here we have a comparison of different approaches to the badass pose with weapon. The woman on the left really does look badass. Those weapons are most definitely not for show. (Incidentally, this is one of the few images by Wayne Reynolds that I found that WASN’T guilty of egregious cheesecake. Maybe he got tired of all those uncovered boobs.) The woman on the right – what is she doing? Getting drunk? That would explain her complete lack of caring about the sideboob. I know which one of these two women I’d rather take on.

So D&D is purported to be loosely based on medieval Europe. The wizard on the left is a good example of that, with her costume looking pretty similar to stuff you might see in that period. The woman on the right, however, appears to be wearing absolutely nothing to cover her backside – which I’m pretty sure isn’t in keeping with the feel of medieval Europe. Last time I checked, Europe gets pretty cold and, dude, a tail is not a replacement for pants.

I’ll also note that despite the fact that the tiefling is actually casting a spell and “controlling the elements” or whatever, I find the halfling far more imposing. I love the “don’t fuck with me” expression on her face.

Another contrast in spell casters, here. Overall, the art for the female dwarves has been pretty fantastic and positive in 4E, and the mage on the left lives up to that standard. The pose is pretty neutral, but the shadow-serpent and the expression on her face make her someone not to be dismissed lightly. And sure, the mage on the right has a more active pose – but she’s pretty obviously posed that way so as to display her, uh, attributes to their maximum advantage.

Also, the anatomy is problematic on the slutty-mage – she’s suffering from a pretty serious case of sphere-boob. She also doesn’t seem to have any hips, which is kind of bewildering. Maybe the only difference between the sexes for elves is that women are just men with boobs tacked on?

These are, unfortunately, both depictions of female fighters. Don’t ask me how the chick on the right is supposed to fight in that getup. I’m sure she spent a much longer time getting her hair to do that than getting into that “armor”. The sad thing about this is that the woman on the left is both powerful and feminine. The chainmail she’s wearing is clearly serving a function and actually covers all the stuff you’d want to protect when hacking at people with swords. And, personally, I find the woman on the left a lot sexier than the freak show on the right.

What to wear when hacking at people with swords: Part Two. Again, fantastic female dwarf. Again, I love, love, LOVE the “don’t fuck with me” expression. Whereas the woman on the right is wearing a tube-top held together with a few pieces of string. Here’s the deal, guys. I’m approximately that well endowed, and there’s no way in hell I’d trust that top to keep the girls contained. Also, what’s with the visible thong? Did medieval Europe have Victoria’s Secret? Lastly, look at the poses. The dwarf looks like she’s two seconds from smashing your face in with that giant hammer. The human just looks like she’s posing for a glamour shot.

Okay, we’re going to end with how to portray threatening women. The woman on the left is strong and competent. She’s not just swinging the spear around for show. Whereas the women on the right… Okay, okay, yes they’re succubi. They’re “supposed” to be sexy. But succubi are demons, for crying out loud! Practically immortal beings from another plane that are supposed to eat men for breakfast! These women don’t look like they’ve eaten anything more than a lettuce leaf for breakfast.

Furthermore, they’re in these awful “look at me, I’m so sexy” poses, but the anatomy is so distorted that I have a hard time seeing them that way. Their waists and shoulders are both way too small. Plus, you know, the boobs. Again, guys – BOOBS DON’T WORK THAT WAY. Christ, the succubus on the right practically has a shelf. I’m surprised she doesn’t carry stuff around on that thing.

So, yes. D&D is making strides, but they’re no Paizo. (Not that Paizo is perfect either.) And when you consider how many of their covers have cheesecake, it makes me wonder if they have any real intention of improving their depictions of women past this point.

[Oh yeah, the boiler plate. This blog is not affiliated with, endorsed, sponsored, or specifically approved by Wizards of the Coast LLC. Wizards owns everything, I own nothing. For more information about the products these are taken from, go to the Wizards website.]


>I realize that it might make more sense to start off with Evony, since Evony has far and away the most sexist game ads I have ever seen. I might still tackle Evony down the line, but it’s been pretty well documented, so instead I decided to start with Rappelz. It was actually Rappelz ads that got me to start my collection of awful game ads, so it seems only fitting that Rappelz should get first crack at the hot seat.

Rappelz is a typical Korean MMO. It’s published by Korean publisher Gala Labs and translated into English as well as many other different languages. In North America, it is distributed by gPotato, which also distributes several other K-MMOs. Rappelz is a “free to play” MMO, though I was unable to determine with casual surfing its funding model. (My guess is freemium, since that’s how many free K-MMOs are funded.)

Anyhow, the ad that caught my eye first was this (apologies for the small size):

Wow. Way to keep it classy, Rappelz. A lot of free MMOs use questionable art, but you really took the effort to go the extra mile and be creepy as well as questionable. What is just as awful as the text, but not quite as obvious, is the size and placement of the face at the bottom. Look how small it is in relation to the boobs! But, you know, that makes sense since boobs don’t do that pesky thing where they talk back.

This one is marginally less terrible, in that way that Christina Aguilera is marginally less awful than Britney Spears. The armor is absolutely ridiculous – why bother putting that much protection on your shoulders if your going to leave your crotch, midriff, and boobs wide open? If I had to fight this chick, I’d stab her in the chest just on principle. Furthermore, check out the placement of the word “free”. It’s RIGHT NEXT TO HER CROTCH. Ugh.

“Hey, look. I’ve got this sweet sword but – OH MY GOD I CAN’T SEE!” This one has all the ridiculousness of the last chainmail bikini (though at least her crotch is protected in this one), and adds the additional handicap of a completely useless helmet that covers her eyes. Also, if you’ll look closely, you’ll see underboob here. Now, I’m going to speak up as someone who actually has a 2nd dan in tae kwon do. It’s pretty well impossible to fight effectively if your boobs are LITERALLY FALLING OUT of your top.

Oh my god! The cleavage is coming to kill me! This is a pretty good illustration of one of my pet peeves in game art – the spherical boob. News flash: Women’s breasts are not spheres that are just kind of tacked on to our torso. Also, if your boobs are as big as your face, YOU HAVE PROBLEMS.

Okay, I’d be really nervous toting around something that large and sharp while half naked.

The boob spheres strike again! Plus we get a pretty fan-service-y panty shot here. I guess these Rappelz guys can’t decide if they love the boobs or the crotch more.

Note to the undoubtedly male artist who drew this: YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG. I don’t know what the hell is going on with her breasts here. Why are they weirdly misshapen? And what the hell happened to her nipples? Did she have them removed like some weird living Barbie? But hey, at least with the glazed porn star stare, passive stance, and spread legs you totally nailed the “come have sex with me” aspect.All in all, pretty awful. I mean, sure the Rappelz women are wearing more than the Evony women. But let’s face it, that’s not all that hard.


>A little about me, since us geek girls always have to establish our “geek cred” to be taken seriously. I’m a female gamer and occasional game artist and game designer. I have a terminal addiction to board games, have gone through several cycles of MMO addiction (Dark Age of Camelot: twice, WoW: twice). I play both PC and console games – mainly RPGs of all stripes, but I do enjoy puzzle games like Katamari as well. I also LARP and play tabletop roleplaying games – both trad and indie.

There. With that out of the way….

So I blame all of this on Simon Rogers. I mean, sure, I’ve been bitching half-heartedly about sexism in gaming for years. But I’d also been intentionally looking the other way much of the time. (I love gaming, I really do. But a lot of the time it pisses me off.) At this past GenCon, Simon asked if I’d be willing to do an article on sexism in gaming for his webzine See Page XX. As a result, I wound up doing tons of research and along the way acquired a monstrous folder full of awful gaming art. I also wound up with the outline of a book on sexism in gaming that I’m trying not to write.

Anyhow, I’ll link to a recent post on my other blog, since it seems relevant: Sexism in Gaming: A List of Links.

So why start this blog, if I’m determined not to write a book? Mainly what I’d like to do is share images from my collection of terrible game art for the purposes of mocking, though I’m sure that occasionally I will write posts about other aspects of sexism. We’ll see where this thing goes. All I know is that I have a hell of a lot to say and an endless wellspring of material to criticize.