Okay. So this ad for Top Spin – a tennis game by 2K Games – was brought to my attention via a thread on the Escapist forums appropriately titled: “Serena Williams’ Butt Stars in Mind-Boggling Top Spin 4 Ad“. It features Serena Williams and pro gamer Rileah Vanderbilt playing Top Spin while showing off their bits in outfits that look a lot more like something out of the Single Ladies video than tennis outfits. I mean, check out these screens:
Now the original post in the Escapist forum thread is very much on the side of “what the fuck, 2K Games?”, and a fair number of respondents are on board with that sentiment. However, some respondents didn’t really see anything wrong with the ad:
Aaaaaaand sold. Marketing successful.
I’d hit it. Far as the ad itself, who cares? Just another ass on the screen which is fine by me.
She has a great ass and you got your head all up in it-Al pacino
…disheartening. I mean, here we have the packaging of an honest-to-god real woman, who happens to play games, for the sexual gratification of the male gaming audience. THIS IS NOT OKAY.
Here’s the thing. I bitch a lot here about the awful design of fictional game women and how they get fetishized. Even then, there are very few female game characters that I will point to and say shouldn’t exist. As much as I loathe Bayonetta and characters like her, I’m not going to say people shouldn’t be allowed to play the game. But there’s a huge difference between sexualizing women who don’t actually exist and encouraging the sexualization of women who actually do.
“But, wundergeek!” you say. “Rileah was consenting! She wants to be sexualized!”
That’s not the point. The point is that gaming women are being packaged as yet another sexual commodity to promote games. Rileah may not care, but I sure as hell do. I am a woman who games and who also happens to have larger-than-average breasts. So I hate it when I see shit like this that takes a female gamer and reduces her to a collection of bits the same way that game companies do with the female characters in their games, because it only furthers the fetishization of real, three-dimensional gaming women. Which is yucky.
And shit like this is rampant. Before the release of the newest Halo game, Microsoft “found” a hot “Halo fan” and took pictures of her playing Halo in “her bedroom”. The promo shots are patently fake, the worst of them being this one:
Yeah. Way to make me believe that you really play Halo, there. There’s no fucking way this wasn’t shot in a studio. Look at that perfect lightning. More importantly, follow the link and notice the complete lack of anything personal in any of the shots. Next time you try and create a fake gamer girl, please at least try a little harder to make the studio look “lived in”, Microsoft.
Of course, the situation gets a bit murky when women start participating in their own sexualization. Take, for instance, the Miss Video Game pageant of 2007. Sadly, the domain is now defunct, but you can read this promo written at the time by female gamer Faith Naked on her blog. Note that one of the first requirements is a photo. If it’s really about skills and “creativity”, why the photo requirement then, hmmmm? Unsurprisingly, in the end, it did turn out to be little more than a beauty pageant after all…
Then you have female “gaming personalities” (I’m really not even sure what to call them) like Raychul Moore, self described gamer and model whose ass is shown right in the header of her site. Furthermore, the category icon for the “gaming” section of her site is her holding a controller over a partially bare ass:
Raychul? YOU ARE NOT HELPING.
Perhaps the most discouraging is when you stumble across things like the Nerdcore gallery over at Destructoid that features pictures of naked women with strategically placed controllers to cover their naughty bits.
The problem with all of this is that a good number of gamer men have just gotten used to the idea that any woman who professes to game is 1) not a real gamer and 2) should not object to being asked to show off their tits. I mean, look what happened with this interview of Michele Boyd of The Guild fame. The interview itself is a good one and sticks to her gaming preferences and habits. But, of course, a few of the commenters can’t resist talking about how much they want to have sex with Michele:
She needs to be at the top of the list once they perfect cloning….
She can ride my Spectral tiger anytime!
Seriously? What is WRONG with you people? Isn’t it enough that there are legions of fictional game women packaged for the sexual titillation of male gamers? Why is it that you have to force REAL women to fit into that role as well? How hard is it to accept that you are not entitled to have every woman who expresses an interest in your hobby strive to satisfy your sexual desires?
If you want to be the type of gamer who drools over nude mod releases, plays Dead or Alive Beach Volleyball, and seeks out games with clothing destruction… okay, whatever. But for fuck’s sake, leave us three-dimensional gaming women out of it.