Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Gender in Videogame Advertising

I know this is a bit of a dead horse, but it bears beating some more, apparently. I recently picked up the latest issue of PLAY magazine, which I generally find to be well written and informative. Unfortunately, on the back of the magazine was a big, glossy ad for "Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude," the latest in the line of ribald Larry adventures. The problem is that the ad consists mostly of a rendering of a topless girl's chest. The girl's arms are folded across her front preventing complete exposure, but it's still a pretty tasteless and obvious attempt to seduce adolescent boys into buying the game (which is supposedly pretty bad, by the way).

Normally, this wouldn't bother me too much. Maxim has as much or more skin on its covers (and it's real skin too). However, I generally read magazines on the bus on the way to work. With this nudie ad on the back, I feel slightly dirty, like I'm looking at soft-core porn in public, even as I'm reading the insightful reviews inside. I feel like I'm probably offending the women around me on the bus. Not only that, but it reflects poorly on me as a person (at least in regards to what other people on the bus think of me).

In any case, I wish they wouldn't print crap like that. I guess, after looking at the PLAY website, I shouldn't be surprised, and I'm not. Still, why do magazines that seem so well put together otherwise, still feel the need to bow to the pressure of advertising dollars?

Some other readings about gender in games and game advertising:

"Views" by Robin Hunicke

"Getting the Girl" at 1UP.com

Gender Inclusive Game Design by Sheri Graner Ray (still reading this one, but I can say that it's pretty great)

UPDATE: There's a great article at WomenGamers.com that articulates the concept of "gamer shame." This is very much related to my embarassment at reading PLAY on the bus, though for me, the embarassment isn't at being a gamer but rather at supporting the adolescent nature of game culture.


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