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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Re: Way to Make Nerd Culture Inviting, Guys

Posted by on Wed, Jul 29, 2009 at 2:25 PM

When took a look at that wretched "acts of lust with booth babes" contest Paul posted about, the site came up with a pretty great idea: enter the contest! Only, their photo submission was a pose with a booth bear from last year's PAX.


And whaddya know, the photo got picked as a runner-up winner, which was all the ammo needed to rebuff the prize:

I think the contest was somewhat sexist, misogynist, and exploitive [sic], especially since you were sending fans upon ANY booth babe at SDCC; however, as a gay man, I also saw this PR stunt as missed opportunity that resulted in what appears to be a narrow minded view as to what your game's audience can truly be. While I'm not sure if it was intentional or not, this stunt projected a view of your target demographic as lustful heterosexual males, when in reality a larger and larger portion of the gaming population are women and LGBT people.

I sent in my photo of me with a burly man that I took at PAX last year as a humorous portrayal of how your contest is not only misogynistic and demeaning to the women that attended the conventions, but also to anyone that doesn't follow the hetero-normative ideal.

In declining the prize, the author suggested a few uses for the $240 EA gift certificate he would've received, including: "the next time you go to Hooters (for the wings, of course), leave a $240 tip for your waitress in a karmic way of balancing out what has been done."

Worth noting, this contest arose barely one week after EA hosted a GLAAD panel in San Francisco on homophobia and intolerance in online gaming and social networking. Today, GLAAD posted the complete two-hour video feed of the panel, which includes local Microsoftian Stephen Toulouse, game makers, and reps from and the ESA games ratings board.

The panel's separate snippets are full of engaged conversation, but it's frontloaded with pontification on the issue of hyperized trash talk, not hard ideas on what, if anything's, to be done. Toulouse's hands appeared tied with his numerous "we are working on better tools" responses about Xbox Live, as he didn't back up most of those with timetables or specific ideas for changes. To be fair, his ownership of Xbox Live's faults is encouraging:

It’s been our ability to sit and say we don’t know the right thing to do and the right way to do it sometimes. What expertise can you help us with that will allow us to enable self-expression, safer communities? We want to know these things. It’s my team’s job to make it a safer experience on Xbox LIVE and I’m going to talk to anybody who has the expertise to do that.

Yet little in the panel hinted to true strides toward promoting tolerance or encouraging gamers to stand up against hateful members of their online community. Because, really, clicking the "report" button in an online game is a silent aggregator, not a step toward the confrontation and conversation that is a necessary tool against intolerance. And some people on the panel didn't even seem ready to accept that notion: at one point in the snippet above, a game maker states, "Some gamers are truly offended by homosexuality. Whose offense is more valid?" That weak-willed statement takes fifteen steps beyond moral relativism and gives gamers' hate speech a free fucking pass. Looks like we've got a ways to go.


Comments (7) RSS

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Mattini 1
This is a very long post and I was just hoping for more pictures of the booth bear (who albeit looks like a mannequin). But I guess that goes to show the misogynistic contest would be right up my alley if I were a hetero guy.
Posted by Mattini on July 29, 2009 at 2:32 PM · Report this
Joh 2
Where can I sign up to be a Booth Bear at PAX this year? I'm sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo into it. Game studios, contact me.
Posted by Joh on July 29, 2009 at 2:34 PM · Report this
Sam Machkovech 3
@1: Only found one other one.
Posted by Sam Machkovech on July 29, 2009 at 2:37 PM · Report this
Anybody who's played a MMORPG knows it's a gateway for virtual transvestitism.

Many Men Online Role-Playing Girls.

Maybe it's not the "gay-friendly" you're talking about, but certainly worth consideration and mention.
Posted by Ackham on July 29, 2009 at 2:46 PM · Report this
crazycatguy 6
It's not just homophobia. Racism and sexism is a big problem on Xbox live, too. When you read the forum posts on the Xbox site, you see that a vast majority of gamers don't like it. Many strategies have been devised to combat the hate speech (friend's lists, clans, etc.) with the most frequent being to use the mute button on your headset.
Posted by crazycatguy on July 29, 2009 at 3:48 PM · Report this
The Amazing Jim 7
I was so sick of 12 year olds (or their maturity equivalents) yelling profanity and homophobic insults while their Ritalin combats the 3 Red Bulls they just downed, I put the headset away and just play without it.
Posted by The Amazing Jim on July 29, 2009 at 4:07 PM · Report this
Mattini 8
@3 Thanks! Up with booth bear!

@6 and 7: Agreed, I also don't play on Xbox live without muting communications from other humans. In addition to the disgusting amount of racist and homophobic language, a lot of the players are well... just plain kidiots.
Posted by Mattini on July 29, 2009 at 7:16 PM · Report this

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