Booth babes; Get rid of ’em

We all like booth babes at games expos, right? Or do we just say we like them because in this phallocratic society we’re living in that’s what we should say. Of course, for many a sexually-deprived gamer booth babes will be as close as they can get to a beautiful woman in the flesh, but who really benefits from this practice, apart from the publishers? Sure, you may have just got a photo with a few pretty women you don’t know, but if you’re of the mindset this is some kind of achievement, then you’re much less likely to meet a woman (like an IRL G/F) in the long run.

My thoughts come in the wake of Eurogamer’s managing director Rupert Lohman announcing that booth babes will be banned from Eurogamer’s 2013 Expo. The company has always been down on the strange video-game-related phenomenon, but after a couple of the PVC-clad vixens wandered beyond the 18+ zone at EG Expo 2012, Lohman has decided that enough is enough. He said:

Of course, exhibitors need to bring staff to the show, but they should be interesting, cool and exciting (Master Chief was /amazing/!) and knowledgeable (developers and publisher staff) rather than pretty girls in revealing outfits just for the sake of it. We want the show to be friendly, and all 50,000 attendees to feel comfortable.

At this year’s show three companies showed up with booth babes. Two in particular we thought were dressed inappropriately. As a short term measure we told them to move into the 18+ zone, and we asked some of them to put on leggings as well.

For future shows we will be issuing formal guidelines: Booth babes are Not OK.

I have no personal gripe with booth babes, nor with using your body to make money. I just find them a sad reflection of the fact that sex sells in our society, and it sells particularly well to gamers; a demographic with a semi-justified image that it doesn’t get much sexual action apart from with its own hands, mouth or household pet.

I was as uninterested in taking a photo with the booth babes as I was in talking to any of them, so I simply decided to observe how people interacted with them for photos. Some people were cool, some people seemed to stiffen up (their backs, I mean), while others still didn’t even dare put their arms around the lovely ladies, presumably for fear of their hands melting upon touching a creature of the opposite sex. Suffice to say hardly anyone actually kicked up a conversation with any of them.

The sight of this strange phenomenon was both amusing and slightly cringe-worthy. Are we not past the stage in society where it’s some kind of trophy to pose with four attractive women – all cleavage and camel-toes – that you barely know for a photo? Doing this doesn’t make us ‘players’ (if we were banging every single one of them, then we may have a claim to that title). We may think of such a photo as ‘cool,’ but actually it’s cringey and clichéd. What we’re essentially getting is a sad and hollow illusion that we’re accomplished, seed-spreading males.

I may be in a minority here, but I think it was a smart move by Eurogamer to ban booth babes. As Lohman said, the expo should be about the games, without crowbarring in a bunch of semi-nude women to somehow make the event more manly. After all, there’s nothing more manly than a giant room filled with unhealthy men (and the occasional woman) getting down and dirty with the latest video-games. We really don’t need constant, tacky reminders that we could actually be out in the world getting sex when all we want to do is geek out and enjoy our sexually-stagnant man-time for just a few precious days…


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