Sex doesn't sell

An on-going topic of controversy within the games industry, “booth babes” continue to split opinion in terms of their relevance at gaming trade shows. The recent media hype has almost dehumanised the job itself and has instead created Windows 8 Clé somewhat of a marketing concept. Are “booth babes” necessary? Joe Donnelly caught up with various women in different areas of the games industry, including those working as female booth attendants, for a more personal outlook on the matter.


The phrase ‘sex sells’ is an ambiguous one. Sex sells what, exactly? From a literal standpoint, sex sells nothing aside from itself, so what relevance has popular culture lent its modern parlance? Is it that associating products with sexual imagery is more likely to persuade consumers to buy whatever’s being promoted? And that by offering a catchy motto which veils dubious economic theory we, as consumers, should consider this reason enough to stomach the term and accept it as it is? I’m not sure I buy that.

At this year’s Electronic Entertainment Expo, many publishers showcased their wares from booths fronted by scantily clad female attendants, further perpetuating the ‘sex sells’ mantra. So called ‘booth babes’ are nothing new at E3, and have been at the centre of media and internet debate over the past few years regarding their relevance at trade shows such as E3 and CES.

Other popular shows – such as PAX and the Windows Server 2003 Clé Eurogamer Expo – have banned booth babes completely, branding them inappropriate, with Eurogamer citing their desire to ensure “the only thing people will be talking about will be the games” at future shows. All of this prompts the inevitable question: are what will viagra do for me booth babes necessary at videogame shows, i.e. do they actually help videogame sales?

Some would argue booth babes are in fact ‘selling sex’, but not in a marketing capacity, more via a misogynistic rhetoric, promoting the idea of the ‘perfect woman.‘ high blood pressure and cialis Others might say they represent good marketing tactics and should be considered a staple of these kinds of trade shows. For right or wrong, the latter appears to be the closest to consensus; that the overarching impression of booth babes is that they’re ‘just one of those things’ within the games industry.


But why is this the case? Conclusively, it’s almost impossible to say, hence the mass debate. An adverse bi-product of the largely anonymous media and internet debate around the matter has resulted in the term ‘booth babe’ becoming more of a concept, as opposed to a job, and the arguments presented from both sides of the divide have somewhat dehumanised the women taking viagra australia on such roles.

In my opinion

Interested in the how and why of this attitude, I

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decided to go out-with the news reports and forum discussions, and sought opinion on a more personal level. I caught up with Alix Stolzer, one half of Legend of Dungeon masterminds RobotLovesKitty; Celia Pearce, professor of digital media at Georgia Tech, and co-founder IndieCade; and Jess, Kelly and Alex, three female booth attendants working for separate companies at this year’s E3 for their perspective on booth babes, both as a job and as a concept.

“Yeah, I mean it’s pretty much just an E3 and Comic Con thing so, I mean, it is what it is. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” says Jess,

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a female attendant representing Nyko Technologies at this year’s E3 conference in LA. “There’s going to be sexuality in pretty much every industry, especially when it comes to gaming. I guess depending upon how the woman is dressed and presented, sure, it can degrade them a little bit. I think it’s part of the experience here at the show, and we’re product specialists, so you can ask us about the product and we’re not dumb girls. We can answer all the questions for you.”

Jess dispels the idea that by taking on these roles women are being used as marketing tools, but feels – although not completely necessary – “sexy” females stationed at front of house works in tandem with the marketing campaign. “I don’t think we’re necessarily being used, because we know what we’re signing up for – you’re being paid, it’s a job,” she says. “I mean, you might look at someone like discount pharmacy David and Victoria Beckham, and say “do you feel like you’re being otc cialis used by Calvin Klein when you were doing their billboard on Sunset Boulevard?’


“It’s the same kind of thing; it’s a job. Were the Victoria’s Secret models being used when they walk the runway? You know, it’s all the same thing. I don’t think it’s necessary, [but] it’s part of advertising; it’s part of marketing.”

In 2010, Tecmo Koei’s Dead of Alive Paradise faced criticism from the Entertainment Software Rating Board who initially – before being forced to remove ‘subjective’ language from its original statement – branded the inclusion of the game’s semi-clad women as “creepy voyeurism”, making reference buy generic cialis to the way the game forces pan-zoom control.

“My role here at E3 is to just greet the guests, make sure that the attendees are having fun, introduce them to our new games – up and coming as well as our old favourites – and yeah, just have a good time,” says Kelly Chun, a female booth attendant working on behalf of Tecmo Koei at this year’s E3. “And in the meantime, if they want to take a picture with me, well I’m all for that.”

Kelly goes on to explain that even although she agrees booth babes are being used as marketing objects, she personally doesn’t mind because “that’s what a model’s job is anyway.” She is, however, unconvinced they’re really needed at shows such as E3. “Personally, I think it’s unnecessary. I mean, if you have someone cool dressed up [in character] that’s one thing, because you know she’s playing a character. But a lot of times they’re just putting the girls in scantily-clad clothes.”

This presence of semi-naked women arguably trivialises women’s place at all at these shows, for there is a distinctive lack of half-naked men acting as equivocal ‘booth hunks.’ When asked if she thought booth babes compromise women’s place at E3, Kelly said: “I do, but I also have noticed that girls kind of expect that, or know that coming in. So we don’t mind it, because we are aware of it.” When asked if booth babes are degrading of women, she said: “You know online casino what? beste online casino One could say the same thing about beauty pageants.”

Alex from Atlus Games acknowledged that the purpose of booth babes is to attract the male attendee’s eye, but also suggested women too enjoy their presence. “I think it’s a selling point,” says Alex. “I think we lure people into our booth to get them going with our games, and everything like that. We wear cute outfits, so it kind of attracts the male gamers. I feel a lot of the girls have enjoyed what we put out, I think they get a kick out of it, seeing the outfits that booth babes wear.”

Celia Pearce is the co-founder and Festival Chair of IndieCade, which enjoyed its sixth appearance at E3 2013. As part of the showcase, Pearce produced a game designed by The Wise Guys, entitled E3GoMania. The game, conceived by Wise Guy Myles Nye, was a satirical commentary on the inclusion of booth babes at E3, a phenomenon he had observed at previous E3’s that he felt compelled a response.


E3GoMania was a trivia game that takes place on a giant board, in which many of the questions (co-authored by Pearce) concerned female game characters and designers. The “pieces” players moved across the board were hunky men in wrestling suits.

“Studies have shown that people retain less about the product being sold if there is sexual content involved,” says Pearce. “According to the research, humour is a more effective sales tool than sex. The problem with booth babes is online viagra that

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they alienate women and make men look like fools, while meanwhile failing to actually sell anything. I mean think about it logically. Who is going to buy a game because a girl in hot pants is standing next to the kiosk? It actually makes no sense.”

Pearce goes on, furthering the ambiguity of the ‘sex sells’ axiom. “The only thing sex sells is sex,” she says. “Not products. E3 is a trade show. People – and by people I mean ALL people, of both genders – are there to see and buy games, not to be titillated. Furthermore, it’s unprofessional. If I am trying to do business with a man and he is too distracted by some woman’s cleavage to have an intelligent conversation with me, I’m less interested in doing business with him.

“I don’t see booth babes as an isolated ‘incident’, so to speak. They are part of a larger endemic pattern which is pervasive across E3 and the industry in general. If you ever watched the series “The Little Rascals,” E3 sort of reminds me of the “He Man Woman Hater’s Club” which some of the boys form to cialis pharmacy demonstrate their prepubescent machismo. Everything about E3 screams to women:

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This is a boy’s club! You don’t belong here! The booth babes only punctuate the larger message. The rest of the world seems to have gotten over this (except maybe the military), but the videogame industry is shockingly backward in this regard.”

According to Pearce, booth babes are more degrading to men than to women and are part of a culture which has normalised misogyny and harassment. Pearce suggests that this fear of unsettling the ‘norm’ has reached the online cialis unfortunate stage where women and men alike who find it distasteful idly stand by, because they feel unable to challenge the perceived status quo.

“A number of stories have come out over the past month or so about the widespread sexual harassment that occurs at E3,” Pearce continues. “Some men seem to go there thinking it’s will 5mg of cialis work an opportunity to hit on any woman they see. There were even two reports this year of security guards ogling and harassing women. This in turns lead to the sort of thing that happened at the Microsoft press conference: the normalisation of rape jokes.

“You know you’ve got a problem with the response to critique of a rape joke is misogynistic hate speech and defence that ‘everybody does it, canadian pharmacy online so it’s okay.’ Just because everyone does it doesn’t make it right. Take a look at the Anita Sarkeesian Kickstarter or the web site and you’ll see what I mean. It starts with the industry and is passed on to the gamer culture itself.

“It’s truly horrifying what a number of men say and think of as “normal.” At the same time, I’m sort of baffled because the men I know find this type of behavior appalling and embarrassing, and they are becoming increasingly outspoken about their own discomfort with the misogynistic culture of gaming, and the inane rationales that people come up with to defend it.”


Pearce makes clear she doesn’t blame the women taking on these jobs themselves, but decries the backwards thinking of behind the scenes marketing teams.

“I don’t blame the women who take the jobs,” Pearce adds. “It’s not their fault. They are models who need to work and the jobs are available. I think the people at fault are the frankly retrograde marketing executives who seem trapped in a perpetual episode of Mad Men even though there’s no evidence that the tactic is effective. Wake up you guys! It’s the 21st Century!”


From a developer”s perspective, RobotLovesKitty’s Alix Stolzer feels that if you “really break it down, the videogames are the reason everyone is there, so it is only videogames and the people involved in them that are necessary” at trade shows such as E3.

Stolzer online pharmacy does however express a far more conservative opinion of booth babes and that although she may have reservations, she doesn’t take particular offense with the issue.

“I can”t speak for all women,” says Alix. “But I don”t feel uncomfortable at all about it. I think some of the outfits and uses are a bit ridiculous and tasteless though. I am a woman, and I have my own game studio with my husband, I don”t feel like my place at E3 was changed because booth babes exist at all. If anything booth babes are the result of something, not the cause.”

Stolzer doesn’t feel booth babes are exactly degrading to women, but feels they create scope to offend men. Similar to Celia Pearce, Stolzer has more of a problem with the overarching mentality within the games industry, as opposed to the booth babes themselves. “There are limits [to how booth babes appear] and if they are passed, I think that, though not really degrading, it would

make the event uncomfortable for many of the attending men and women alike. In some ways booth babes are degrading to men, because in a way its assuming that they are driven by sex.

“I think the mentality that welcomes the booth babes is more of an issue than the booth babes themselves. how long viagra takes to work While at E3 in June my generic cialis husband Calvin and I were part of the Indiecade booth, showing off our game Legend of Dungeon. cialis soft tabs ohne rezept During the 3 days of the expo I was at the booth more than Calvin was, but he was given over three times as many business cards.

“One reporter even asked me about booth babes and being a woman in the industry, and I mentioned that Calvin was getting all the cards. At the end of cialis and bph the chat, who do you think he handed his card to? He did catch himself afterwards and took the card back and gave it to me, it was pretty funny, but it also is a good example of the subtle ways I got treated differently.”

Excellence sells

So from these opinions, it”s clear to see the variety of responses that the job/concept/enigma of “booth babes” prompts.

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One thing which does seem clear, however, is that even those taking on such jobs are doubtful of their necessity at trade shows such as E3. So why have them at all? Has PAX or Eurogamer been less successful in recent years in their absence? Of course not. Would E3 be less successful if it introduced a similar ban? I seriously doubt it.


The videogames industry as it is is polarised as far as gender representation is concerned. Perpetuating these retrograde, and quite frankly deluded marketing tactics is not only grossly archaic practice, but completely devoid of forward thinking.

Booth babes are a product of backwards thinking; kamagra 100mg an archaic codification of false and old fashioned beliefs, which have unfortunately become symptoms of the industry. The individuals taking on these jobs are not to blame for sustaining this narrative, but the overshadowing mentality of marketing departments and the industry itself.

As we march towards the dawn of Playstation 4 and Xbox One, we can begin to ready ourselves for the climax of hype and one-up-manship upon the consoles” respective release dates. Scantily clad female trade show booth attendants will have zero bearing on any of this.

Sex doesn”t sell, because it can”t sell. The phrase just doesn”t make sense – in theory or in practice. According to the late American motivational speaker Earl Nightingale, “excellence always sells.”

To me, that is more like it. Let the games talk for themselves.

Joe Donnelly

Author: Joe Donnelly

Joe is the line editor at BeefJack and often wonders who introduced the whole 'talking about yourself in the third person' thing. Maybe one day I'll, ahem, he'll find out.

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