Game Politics (gamepolitics ) wrote,

EDITORIAL: E3 Booth Babes Pay the Price For Game Biz Politics

Simply put, the ESA's ban on "booth babes" at the 2006 E3 Expo stinks. It's a politically-correct ploy by the video game industry that will have a negative financial impact on the dozens - if not hundreds - of actresses and models who typically work at the show.

While we understand all of the arguments against booth babes (tacky, exploitative, etc.), they've been a part of the E3 landscape forever. E3 is a trade show, and exhibitors use a variety of means to attract attention to their wares. The time-honored booth babe is just one such method, along with army men, singers, celebrities, quiz shows, t-shirt tossing, gear give-aways, and on and on...

Nor is GP buying the argument that scantily-clad booth babes stop nerdy E3 attendees in their tracks, thus blocking the aisles. A show like E3 is all about creating a buzz for one's game or system or peripheral. Ever been to Nintendo's exhibit at E3? Mario & Co. purposely designs the display area to be one huge traffic jam, making it look like they have more buzz going on than the GameCube perhaps merits.

In fact, E3's aisles are jammed because the ESA lets too many people into the show. The number goes up every year, and a good many of the attendees have minimal qualifications for admittance. Like the two guys I met last year from Drunk Gamer, a fan site about the nexus of games and beer. Nice guys, but...

Shutting out the booth babes will also take money out of the pockets of Los Angeles' massive population of aspiring actresses, most of whom seem to find a gig at E3. For the booth babe, E3 has always represented three days of work at a decent wage. Thus, the local L.A. economy takes a hit as well.

Finally, GP, cynic that he is, doesn't believe for a moment that the suits at the ESA made this decision in a sudden burst of enlightenment. This flip-flop from past practice is strictly political, an attempt to massage the game industry's sagging public image. With the first post-Hot Coffee E3 coming up, we're quite sure the ESA expects an unprecedented level of scrutiny from the media, from Wal-Mart, from politicians, and from the Religious Right.

Ultimately, the struggling actresses and models of Los Angeles will join the ranks of those paying the price for Take Two's mismanagement of the Hot Coffee fiasco.

UPDATE: GameCloud has a lengthy, balanced report on the booth babe issue. Next Generation has a well-reasoned commentary that takes a position opposite of GP's. The IGDA's Sex & Games SIG has articles on the booth babe controversy here.

Tags: booth babes, e3, esa, hot coffee
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