Anti Booth Babes?

by Darius Kazemi on May 14, 2005

in Uncategorized

XYZ Computing reports:

At this year’s E3 (May 17-20) Agetec will launch its Anti Booth Babe campaign. Believing that booth babes take attention away from the games, Agetec wants to change the focus back to where is should be. They plan on doing this not by refusing to have booth babes, but instead by hiring ten unattractive woman to work their booth. [emphasis mine --Darius]

First things first. I definitely like the idea of skewering or somehow criticizing booth babes in a playful manner. I just don’t like booth babes. They make me feel cheap and sleazy. They make me feel like I’m in an industry run by me, but when I was 15. This is a scary feeling.

However, I find the idea of “hiring ten unattractive women to work” a booth to be hardly an interesting or useful commentary. I don’t know if “unattractive” was a characterization that the author of the article made, or if it was a characterization that Agetec made as part of their PR packet, but I don’t like it. It implies that you’re either a booth babe, or you’re unattractive. Yes, there’s some feminist art I’ve seen that takes a standard “sexy” image and subverts it by putting a normal-looking woman on it (I wish I had links) . But in no cases that I’ve seen have the normal women been referred to as “unattractive”–one point that these pieces make is that there can be different metrics for attractiveness besides the ones that the media likes to push.

Since I have incomplete information, there’s 3 situations that could be going on:

  1. If the company is putting up normal women and calling them “unattractive”, then I think that’s a really bad call.
  2. If the company was misinterpreted by the journalist, then okay Mr. Journalist, watch your language for connotation!
  3. If the company has hired women who are physically attractive, but treat all the game developers and journalists and expogoers like crap–now that would be subversive! I would applaud.

But as it stands, the company’s move seems playful, but not very critical.


Jeremiah Chaplin May 14, 2005 at 2:27 pm

I’m still waiting for the moment when companies realize that a competent, intelligent, friendly woman with an interest in the subject matter is far more attractive than a “babe” that knows absolutely nothing about it. It will never happen though, since sex is still selling.

joanna brosius May 14, 2005 at 7:53 pm

Since I happen to be female, I personally would hate to be hired or selected for this job just to be an “unattractive” female. Can you imagine? “Yes, you qualify because you don’t meet our standards of beauty. Don’t bother wearing makeup on the job.” Ideally, people should be chosen for the booths based on their knowledge and gusto for the games being displayed, and their ability to interact with visiters so that people leave feeling happy and informed, and perhaps a wish to purchase the games in question. Any selection based on appearance is pretty shallow.

Bill May 14, 2005 at 10:22 pm

Darius said:

“They make me feel cheap and sleazy. They make me feel like I’m in an industry run by me, but when I was 15.”

You knew women with impossibly large breasts, plastic smiles and spiked heels ( when you were 15?

You are *so* my hero. ;-)

But seriously, I hope that Agetec is genuine in their intent and that they were either misrepresnted or are clueless with regards to their choice of words as reported at XYZ. Either way, they really need to engage in some damage control.

And Jeremiah, I couldn’t agree with you more. I remember at GDC in 04 when Maxon, who makes BodyPaint3D, brought in Candace Kita as a representative on the show floor in a rather revealing outfit and, or course, body paint. You could almost feel everyone look away and cringe slightly. It wasn’t the right venue (if any venue is right for exploitative practice) and it was reflected in the reaction of the attendees.

Conversely, I had a lot of really great conversations with company representatives (of either gender) who really knew their products. That was the meaningful part of the show floor experience for me.

Bradley Momberger May 15, 2005 at 5:13 am

There was a Dilbert comic a few years back where they determined that their optimal expo strategy was to dress their engineers in thongs and have them stand outside the booths of their competition.

Let’s say for a moment that Agetec, like most all entrenched corporations, is completely clueless as to how to satirize anything well. This would probably be a better idea than what they’re proposing.

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