Join 3,442 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Harassing women for fun and prizes
July 24, 2009 3:08 PM   Subscribe

Electronic Arts, the video game publisher that is no stranger to either controversy, is sponsoring a contest for its upcoming release of Dante's Inferno (Previously). The contest, taking place at this weekend's Comic-Con, requires entrants to "commit acts of lust" and take a photo of said act with an EA (or other company's) booth babes, post the photos on Twitter or Facebook, and repeat the process as many times as possible for additional chances to win. The prize is listed in part as "Dinner and a sinful night with two hot girls".

Many are understandably outraged at the blatant sexism and the encouragement of sexual harassment. This incident comes on the heels of last month's IGN contest for a Comic-Con prize package that was originally open to males only.
posted by cmgonzalez (136 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Whoops. either
posted by cmgonzalez at 3:10 PM on July 24, 2009


Shit. I took pictures of myself committing acts of sloth. Goddamn. Now I have to get dressed and get off the couch.
posted by GuyZero at 3:15 PM on July 24, 2009 [18 favorites]


I forgot the #skidmark tag on my comment there.
posted by GuyZero at 3:16 PM on July 24, 2009


Stay classy, Electronic Arts.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:17 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


I foresee acts of wrath being committed in internet forums against EA. Followed by dinner and a sinful night with snark.
posted by axiom at 3:17 PM on July 24, 2009


Yeah, there's a lot of fail there. A generous reading of that contest description is that they meant that posing with the booth babe was the "act of lust," not that you needed to honk her breast or something. Still, majorly squicky either way.

(I'm on my way to Comic Con, so I'll have to cruise by this tomorrow and see how it plays out).
posted by Bookhouse at 3:18 PM on July 24, 2009


From the "acts of lust" link:
1: COMMIT ACTS OF LUST
Take Photos with us or any booth babe
This may be poorly worded, but it's obviously not intended to "put a sexual bounty on the heads of its own booth babes, " as the hysterical ars technica headline would have it.

The intention is pretty clearly to define "COMMIT[ting] ACTS OF LUST" as "Tak[ing] Photos with us or any booth babe."

Since the job description of booth babe at one of these cons consists almost in its entirety of "be scantily clad and allow sweaty nerds to have their picture taken with you," this whole thing strikes me as NOT A BIG DEAL.

A tempest in a C cup, if you will.
posted by dersins at 3:19 PM on July 24, 2009 [18 favorites]


I'm guessing they don't pay the booth babes enough to get groped by a bunch of horny nerds... jesus, EA.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 3:20 PM on July 24, 2009


As with the Open Source Boob Project, my fantasy is to be in the room when the proposal is being discussed. Depending upon my attitude towards those present, I say either "this will all end in tears" or "just how fucking stupid are you?"
posted by fatbird at 3:22 PM on July 24, 2009


I'm guessing they don't pay the booth babes enough to get groped by a bunch of horny nerds... jesus, EA.

How much is enough?
posted by axiom at 3:23 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


What about the other six? How limiting.
posted by prak at 3:23 PM on July 24, 2009


Does anyone seriously think that people are going to walk up to these ladies and think that it's part of a contest to grope them?

The wording of the contest is shitty, yeah, but come on, give even socially awkward nerds and geeks like myself the benefit of the doubt.

I've never been to Comic Con, but I'm assuming most of the people there know to behave better than if they were at a frat house.
posted by elder18 at 3:23 PM on July 24, 2009


ah, boothbabes. At a TGS I asked a pair of them, sitting at a desk, 姉妹ですか? I wonder if they get that a lot. . .
posted by @troy at 3:25 PM on July 24, 2009


The "but on the other hand" second paragraph was a nice chaser, but the primary effect of this post is going to be to direct attention to a marketing scheme. Do you really think EA needs help advertising?
posted by foxy_hedgehog at 3:25 PM on July 24, 2009


A contest requiring geeks to take dirty pictures for a night with two bimbos?

This is like one of those jokes that doesn't work because it hits the nail too squarely.
posted by rokusan at 3:25 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


this promotion completely blows my mind. I cannot figure out why anyone thought it was a good idea.

as has been mentioned the acts of lust in question are actually totally ordinary standard fair for conventions. but if you're not reading the fine print, you wouldn't know that.

so what we have from EA right now is:

1. something that anyone could have guessed would outrage people, no matter what the fine print says.
2. the promotion is actually completely boring.
3. otherwise harassed booth girls being further harassed.
4. socially maladjusted guys possibly being inspired (regardless of fine print) to do something stupid.

unless this is one of those moments where the whole idea is to generate controversy for publicity, this whole promotion is almost totally brain dead. I see no pros to this.
posted by shmegegge at 3:27 PM on July 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


What really bugs me about sexism in videogames/technology is it's coming out of a fairly new industry. Instead of being progressive many studios gleefully embrace regressive sexual politics while simultaniously claiming girls aren't their demographic and either pushing them away with a game loaded with male gaze or drivel like magical unicorn shoe shopping adventures.

I love videogames, but it just so noninclusive. For many games, giving the choice between a male or female character would change very little in the actual gameplay (halo, Fable, etc).
posted by Betty_effn_White at 3:27 PM on July 24, 2009 [9 favorites]


Don't forget to buy an, er, indulgence, at the dispenser machine inside the public restrooms. All that sin is catching, you know.
posted by Iosephus at 3:28 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


1: COMMIT ACTS OF LUST
Take Photos with us or any booth babe


They lowered the bar for lust to the Jimmy Carter level.
posted by wendell at 3:30 PM on July 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


Maybe there will be some fun, double-sin-whammy pictures, as the models perform acts of gluttony in order to reduce the lust by a factor of ten.

'I just can't tell - is the gamer lusting after the model or her double cheeseburger wrapped in an elephant ear?'
posted by palindromic at 3:31 PM on July 24, 2009


I cannot figure out why anyone thought it was a good idea.

Come on, between average advertising geniuses and your typical MBA marketing moron, is it really so hard to imagine? This kind of stupid is inevitable.

(Everyone loves turkeys. Everyone loves helicopters.)
posted by rokusan at 3:31 PM on July 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


I pray a female wins this because this contest is full of stupid sexist assumptions.
posted by thisperon at 3:34 PM on July 24, 2009 [12 favorites]


For many games, giving the choice between a male or female character would change very little in the actual gameplay.

In videogames, I always play a female character if it's available, because I don't want to spend 100+ hours staring at a man's ass running around in leather pants swatting rats.

(For that, there's Chelsea.)
posted by rokusan at 3:35 PM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


What would Dante think of this.
posted by empath at 3:37 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yuk.
posted by Artw at 3:37 PM on July 24, 2009


But seriously, for those thinking this is only single-level tone deaf, note that this is the same agency that stirred up deliberate controversy for the same game by hiring fake Bible-thumping protesters to picket.

People are easy to provoke to outrage. It's a sort of marketing strategy slash trolling campaign.
posted by rokusan at 3:38 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


It's not just taking a picture, there's a "handpicked winner" implying that you need to do something to stand out, to rise above the crowd of boring pictures. Thus encouraging the more antisocial/clueless folks out there to do something stupid.
posted by naju at 3:42 PM on July 24, 2009


And wow, I normally don't agree with grabbing games off of bittorrent, but shit like this certainly lowers my reluctance.
posted by thisperon at 3:42 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


this contest is of course -like every other game EA releases- laden with fine print and DRM goodies:

- you cannot rotate pictures because it's not financially feasible allowing people to do so. trying to do it in camera will format your memory chip and deduct 100 points from your credit score as a warning. to get those back you will need to provide proof of purchase of your latest pair of socks.

- you must not get up from your boothbabe date for a bathroom break. doing so will mean you have to deal with the draconian helpline employees who will only reactivate your date once they have made sure you really didn't jerk off in the bathroom. they will check and they are not obligated to grant you another seat at the table.

- 'acts of lust' are precisely defined and you really should read the fine print carefully. if the lust activation server doesn't deem your picture to be lusty, you're shit out of lust. you have a limited number of attempts and any change in lust objects means you get automatically deducted another penalty amount. nobody really knows why but the only way to increase your attempts involves your mom, a lot of jelly and a broomstick.

- ea reserves the right to place irremovable folders on your back. these folders will contain all your personal information and are only there to enable trusted ea employees to easily access your information for quality assurance and marketing purposes. it's perfectly safe and you have nothing to worry about but just to be sure we placed them in that one spot between your shoulderblades you have a really hard time reaching and attached a few rusty nails to it.

- easter egg feature is a webcam pointed at their coders behind the giant fish tank in the LA office. each chair is secretly connected to a tazer and you are encouraged to 'gently wake them up' if they fall asleep during their 102-hour workweek or dare sneaking off on a lunch break. don't feel bad, they have been warned.
posted by krautland at 3:44 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


I think a Sloth contest would be a lot easier for these guys.
posted by delmoi at 3:44 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


by the way, if you've never seen the Dante's Inferno trailer I highly recommend you point your eyes thisaways.

It is an almost note perfect reproduction of what you'd see if someone had done this as a joke. I was convinced, after seeing this trailer, that the game didn't actually exist, and someone was playing a prank. Picture my surprise to learn that this is real, and the idea of Dante motherfucking Alighieri kicking ass and taking names (and not as a joke) was something someone somewhere thought was a good idea.

my favorite part is when Virgil rips this guy's arms off and goes "Your arms in my hands, I sing."
posted by shmegegge at 3:47 PM on July 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


Gaming sinks to a new low.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:47 PM on July 24, 2009


DOES ONANISM COUNT THIS IS IMPORTANT

cause man I bet I got this in the bag.
posted by boo_radley at 3:49 PM on July 24, 2009 [6 favorites]


I wish this wasn't so non-shocking.
posted by agregoli at 3:50 PM on July 24, 2009


It would be so easy to overload this with feminist protest. Act of lust 1: voting Act of lust 2: model with bell hooks book act of lust 3: self defense lesson, etc. Instead of bitching about it on the internet, subvert.
posted by Betty_effn_White at 3:51 PM on July 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


The worst part about this is it was only LAST YEAR that there was controversy at ComicCon over its boyzone sexual harassment atmosphere.

Either someone at EA totally didn't remember, or totally did.
posted by NoRelationToLea at 3:54 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


All Submissions will be judged based on the following equally-weighted Judging Criteria: (a) creativity, and (b) entertainment value. In the event of a tie, the highest score in the "creativity" category will determine winner.

Yeah, there's no way this can go wrong...
posted by Bakuun at 3:55 PM on July 24, 2009


Does anyone seriously think that people are going to walk up to these ladies and think that it's part of a contest to grope them?

The wording of the contest is shitty, yeah, but come on, give even socially awkward nerds and geeks like myself the benefit of the doubt.

I've never been to Comic Con, but I'm assuming most of the people there know to behave better than if they were at a frat house.


I have never attended, but this previous thread suggests that the poor treatment of female is pretty endemic to Comic-Con.
posted by hippybear at 3:58 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


EA, bringing all of the excitement of riding a Japanese train to ComicCon.
posted by FireballForever at 3:58 PM on July 24, 2009 [4 favorites]


Grrr. There is more than one female. Make that females.
posted by hippybear at 3:59 PM on July 24, 2009


There is more than one female.

Not that many more.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:02 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Comic-Con + act of lust = Nothing I want to see
posted by SamsFoster at 4:04 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Part of me wonders whether this game is the result of a drunken bet gone too far - "Look man, I bet you like twenny bucks alright that you can't make a game from a poem."
posted by Tomorrowful at 4:04 PM on July 24, 2009


Actually you know, there really are. Maybe the reason you don't think there are is because people keep repeating the fact that there aren't, like it's canon. And then every woman who IS involved starts to think she might be the only one and then you have millions of female gamers all thinking they're unique just because nobody will shut up about this ridiculous assumption already.
And maybe I'm stating the obvious, but the thing that annoys me about this isn't the Objectification of the Booth Babe, but the fact that the guidelines of the contest imply that no (straight) women would ever want to enter. Remind me again which level of hell is reserved for mouth-breathing lackwits who live in their parents' basements?
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 4:09 PM on July 24, 2009 [14 favorites]


Shit. I took pictures of myself committing acts of sloth.

Yeah, I was going to do that too, but I just couldn't be bothered.
posted by yoink at 4:12 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Dormant Gorilla: The same goes for the gay men who might be in attendance. I have no problems with posing for a photo with a female in a costume in order to enter a contest, but in the spirit of the thing, I should be able to pick out a man to stand next to. Hard to "commit acts of lust" with a booth babe when titties make my dick soft.
posted by hippybear at 4:12 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Just as an aside, the media blast sent out by EA this morning didn't say anything about taking photos for the "act of lust." Here's how my EA PR contact explained it:

"Winners will receive a dinner with our Go to Hell girls, limo service, paparazzi, and a chest full of booty. All they have to do to enter is commit acts of lust with a booth babe and tell us about it. Every entry counts, so long as it makes it to us by the end of Friday, so make sure to get your entries in as soon as possible!"

(More at my blog, if interested)
posted by Servo5678 at 4:12 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Hippybear- exactly.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 4:15 PM on July 24, 2009


Is Strip Yahtzee still considered an act of lust?

If it is I'm SO IN!!!!
posted by jtoth at 4:15 PM on July 24, 2009


Actually you know, there really are. Maybe the reason you don't think there are is because people keep repeating the fact that there aren't, like it's canon. And then every woman who IS involved starts to think she might be the only one and then you have millions of female gamers all thinking they're unique just because nobody will shut up about this ridiculous assumption already.

Yeah, I know. As I mentioned above, I'm going tomorrow, and I'm traveling with a carload of women. It was a lazy joke on my part.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:16 PM on July 24, 2009


SamsFoster: "Comic-Con + act of lust = Nothing I want to see"

Not so fast there SamsFoster!

On the other hand...
posted by Effigy2000 at 4:16 PM on July 24, 2009


Publicity stunt!
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:18 PM on July 24, 2009


Publicity stunt!

Seems to be working....
posted by jtoth at 4:21 PM on July 24, 2009


this promotion completely blows my mind. I cannot figure out why anyone thought it was a good idea.

We're talking about it on MetaFilter, aren't we?
posted by davejay at 4:22 PM on July 24, 2009


It's no "Get Naked for PlanetQuake" contest.

The First Prize winner actually did it. The Grand Prize winner had a better story to tell about doing it after bush-flying a postal route to Middle of Nowhere Alaska, but that page of the article is sadly giving up a 404.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:24 PM on July 24, 2009


1: COMMIT ACTS OF LUST
Take Photos with us or any booth babe

They lowered the bar for lust to the Jimmy Carter level.
Actually, that's the Christian level. Carter's "I've committed adultery in my heart" was a reference to Matthew 5:28. In context, he said this:
I try not to commit a deliberate sin. I recognize that I'm going to do it anyhow, because I'm human and I'm tempted. And Christ set some almost impossible standards for us. Christ said. "I tell you that anyone who looks on a woman with lust has in his heart already committed adultery."

I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times. This is something that God recognizes I will do—and I have done it—and God forgives me for it. But that doesn't mean that I condemn someone who not only looks on a woman with lust but who leaves his wife and shacks up with somebody out of wedlock.

Christ says, Don't consider yourself better than someone else because one guy screws a whole bunch of women while the other guy is loyal to his wife. The guy who's loyal to his wife ought not to be condescending or proud because of the relative degree of sinfulness.
I've often found it interesting that the right-wingers who hit on him the hardest and the most frequently for this fundamentally decent statement are typically, ostensibly, Christians.
posted by Flunkie at 4:30 PM on July 24, 2009 [10 favorites]


Sorry, Bookhouse- I didn't mean to make it sound like I was talking about you in particular. It just gets right up my nose. Of the fourteen people I know who are going to Comic Con, eleven are female, and each of them think they're weird. I don't want to make arguments based only on anecdotal evidence but honestly, every girl I know who's into this sort of thing thinks she's weird, and none of them seem to ever notice ALL the other women who like the same thing. We've been told so often that it's weird that we've bought it, and most of the girls I know take a sort of perverse pride in being That Girl Who Likes Videogames, when in fact it's just not all that uncommon. I want to blow the shit out of zombies sometimes when I get home from work and there is not a damn thing that is strange about that, and it doesn't make me cool or unusual, and I think if we stopped thinking it did, it might help reduce some of the bullshit that these nerd boys feel entitled to throw at us with impunity.
posted by Dormant Gorilla at 4:32 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Who the hell do they think they are? American Apparel??
posted by Devils Rancher at 4:34 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


I don't think EA is the only gaming company resorting to sleaze.
posted by mathlete at 4:35 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, I was thinking the other day about how much I love playing video games and that I should get back into gaming, but then I watched the Dante's Inferno trailer and I've changed my mind. Are all videogames now just Ninja Gaiden with varying levels of stupidity?
posted by fuq at 4:35 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


this promotion completely blows my mind. I cannot figure out why anyone thought it was a good idea.

After working in the game industry for over a decade, I have a theory about game marketing and PR in specific and marketing in general.

Marketing and PR have no effective metrics for success. They just don't. There's no way to effectively discern between a great marketing/PR team and a merely good one.

If a game is successful, sales-wise, it's certainly not successful because of marketing and PR efforts alone (e.g. the marketing was terrible, but it was a good game, period). If a game is unsuccessful, it's also certainly not unsuccessful because of marketing and PR efforts alone (e.g. the marketing was wildly successful, but the game sucked). At best, marketing and PR is a force multiplier, and at worst, it's a divisor.

So ... how do you know when you're any good? You can't ever really know.

Then it comes down to what story you can tell about what you did.

Read any marketing/PR post-mortem, and what you get is a list of the team's activities. In effect, they're saying, "Here's how we spent the marketing budget. Aren't we cool?"

Did it work?

"We don't know. But here's what we did."

Because there's no definition for end-state success, how you spent your budget is more important than what you actually accomplished with your budget.

Their story is only as good as the uniqueness of the activities. "We embarked on AwesomeEventCampaign. No one had ever done AwesomeEventCampaign before! It was out-of-the-box! It was creative! It was awesome!"

Whether or not anyone else thought it was awesome is beside the point.

With AwesomeEventCampaign on your record, you can now stand in front of your boss and say, "I spent the budget on something awesome." if your story is unique enough to make the boss smile, and unique enough to give him something that he can take to his boss and make him smile, you get to keep your job.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:38 PM on July 24, 2009 [14 favorites]


I'm guessing they don't pay the booth babes enough to get groped by a bunch of horny nerds... jesus, EA.

My gf works occasionally as a "booth babe," though not an this particular event. She gets anywhere from $35-100 per per hour -- usually in the form of an agreed-upon flat rate for a given number of days.

Groping the babe is rare -- gf's never seen it happen personally -- and results in immediate ejection from the event. Security is generally extremely tight because no one wants to get sued.
posted by coolguymichael at 4:39 PM on July 24, 2009


No worries, DG, like I said, it was a lazy joke on my part. Most of the people I know going to Comic Con are women as well, for what it's worth.
posted by Bookhouse at 4:43 PM on July 24, 2009


This kind of advertising is so transparent I'm not sure why these kinds of things get posted to MeFi all the time. A contest where their core audience comes, takes pictures of THEIRPRODUCT+BOOBS, and posts it for the rest of their target market on social networking sites? And the copy is intentionally bad to provoke these kinds of omg-outraged blog posts?

The people here raging against EA for their insensitivity to women might as well volunteer to put up posters for the game or something.
posted by bradbane at 4:46 PM on July 24, 2009


It just seems like really shoddy marketing to me. Yeah, we're talking about it, but we're not talking about the product being marketed at all. What's the connection? Sin, or something?

I understand why creating controversy to sell stuff works, but implicit in that sort of campaign is the idea that you have to see the movie or play the game or whatever to satisfy your curiosity about the controversy. "Did they really put that in the movie? Did they really show all of it?"

This doesn't have any of that. It'll take me about 10 hours to forget the name of the video game being advertised.
posted by roll truck roll at 4:48 PM on July 24, 2009


What do I win for porking too many both babes? Dinner with only two booth babes? But I already porked them! I love them and leave them. And by love I mean pork and by leave I mean leave.
posted by I Foody at 4:57 PM on July 24, 2009


CONTEST 2 : POST THE UNBAPTIZEDEST BABBIES YUO GOT

EA continues to vex me with with this game and its promotions.
posted by boo_radley at 4:57 PM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


I used to be the co-owner of one comics company and the editor of another. Naturally, we did Comic-Con, along with about 7 other major shows through out the year. For some of the shows, like ComicCon, we hired people to help us work the booth.

Our unstated rule was "No Table Biscuits". Hot girls who showed up in bikinis...right out. Girls who knew something about comics...hired on the spot. (No boys ever applied.) Despite the fact that none of our booths had bimbos; we were always insanely busy, because the pros would come hang out with us...and people would stand there and buy comics just to catch a glimpse of pros like Neil Gaiman or Clive Barker while they tried to avoid the crowd.

I found that the real pros hated the bimbo thing...because almost all of them *liked* women. Real women. You know, the ones with brains, who don't feel like the most they have to offer is cleavage and a tiny waist. Don't get me wrong, many of the male pros are married to beautiful, beautiful women...but they're beautiful *brilliant* women with senses of humor and knowledge of something other than how to exfoliate. And many of the pros have daughters the same age as these models...and nobody wants to think of their daughters being treated the way that booth girls are treated.

These kinds of contests are beyond demeaning to just the booth girls, they are demeaning to women as a whole. What this contest says is that booth babes are nothing but masturbatory objects, that no women except these women count as being worthy of desire.

I understand the psychology of the promotion. I understand that it's been well memetically crafted to stir both libido and outrage. I get that. That doesn't make it any more acceptable. This is an insult to gamers, to women, and most especially to Dante.
posted by dejah420 at 5:12 PM on July 24, 2009 [34 favorites]


and people would stand there and buy comics just to catch a glimpse of pros like Neil Gaiman or Clive Barker while they tried to avoid the crowd.

Speaking as a non-congoer, this is reason #1 that written SF conventions are hugely better than media or comic conventions: The huge distinction between "fans" and "pros" at the latter. At SF conventions pros don't tend to avoid the crowd since they are the crowd.

Comic-con and the like seem to be nothing more giant advertisements and ways for pros to shill. Written cons seem to be places for readers and writers alike to get together and talk bout their mutual interest.
posted by Justinian at 5:16 PM on July 24, 2009


I found that the real pros hated the bimbo thing...because almost all of them *liked* women. Real women. You know, the ones with brains, who don't feel like the most they have to offer is cleavage and a tiny waist. Don't get me wrong, many of the male pros are married to beautiful, beautiful women...but they're beautiful *brilliant* women with senses of humor and knowledge of something other than how to exfoliate.
The women that you are implicitly putting down here are also "real women".
posted by Flunkie at 5:17 PM on July 24, 2009 [21 favorites]


Marketing and PR have no effective metrics for success.

Cool Papa Bell: having been on the tech side of two organisations which had very professional marketing, I can tell you that this is simply not true. For both brick-and-mortar and software companies, it is possible to measure the effectiveness of advertising. And it's ok that "effective" is fuzzy, because the actual data is more interesting: who is listening, buying, coming back. And over time, you get a feel for the market, and can measure against yourself and your competitors.

EA's problem is not marketing. It's a complete lack of imagination. Why use Dante? Not because they care about Italian literature, but because it saves them from having to think anything up. I can imagine the meeting...

bored tech: this is the three hundredth time we have debated over whether we should put in the titontidapanda idea, or whether gigantaur makes more sense. Can't we just decide?

legal advisor: I told you! Wizards of the Coast will sue if we put owlbears in

rick the bot: Zzzzz....

bored character designer: Look dudes. I'm through with this. Look, I have a copy of Dante's Inferno which some chick left in my place a few months back. It has lots of crazy stuff. From now on, next time I need a new character, I'll simply turn to the next page. See, it's big. There's probably an entire game of characters in here. No decisions, no meetings, just one rule: rip off the book. After all, Dante won't be suing us anytime soon.

Marketing type: Perfect! I can see the tagline: Go To Hell! Oh this is fabulous. It will be like one big videogame version of a horrible themed frat party. The plebs will eat it up.

posted by honest knave at 5:24 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


To think that I used to think that repping a software company would be a fun gig.

I'm thankful I'm not in charge of running media campaigns for fuckwits like this 'cause shaking them violently by the shoulders and yelling "What the hell were you THINKING?!?!" every few hours would get pretty wearing after a while.

Oh, and CoolPapaBell, professional publicists are certainly capable of measuring the effective impact of a campaign. Measuring the appropriate metrics is not difficult. I haven't worked in the gaming field, but the principles, techniques and services are pretty standard from industry to industry.
posted by zarq at 5:43 PM on July 24, 2009


After the Illumijihadiststs are given the keys to AMERIKUH ONE NATION UNDAR GOD I know what town Obama's Soylent Crackers are going to be made fromin.
posted by bunnytricks at 5:51 PM on July 24, 2009


Oops. That should have gone in the deleted thread.
posted by bunnytricks at 5:54 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


It is an almost note perfect reproduction of what you'd see if someone had done this as a joke.

It's like Schwarzenegger as Hamlet at the beginning of "Last Action Hero."
posted by brundlefly at 5:55 PM on July 24, 2009


Metafilter: Oops. That should have gone in the deleted thread.
posted by dersins at 5:58 PM on July 24, 2009


Stupid. Of the seven deadly sins, Lust is the least interesting, as sin.
posted by orthogonality at 5:58 PM on July 24, 2009


having been on the tech side of two organisations which had very professional marketing, I can tell you that this is simply not true. For both brick-and-mortar and software companies, it is possible to measure the effectiveness of advertising.

professional publicists are certainly capable of measuring the effective impact of a campaign.

You're both missing the boat. Measuring marketing/PR output is useful, but doesn't give you anything close to 1:1 correspondence that your target audience actually got the message. Nor does any of those measurements actually measure success in the market, i.e. turning a profit.

We can talk about awareness and advertising reach and penetration, but every professional marketer / advertiser / promoter that's worth their salary will tell you that advertising effectiveness =! sales effectiveness. They'll tell you that you can't blame the marketing ALONE if the product doesn't sell.

And besides, I was there at the PR conference when the head of a major game publisher, one of EA's top competitors, said point-blank, there are no good metrics for success, and how expectations need to be managed carefully.

When you can't accurately gauge success, all you can point to are the activities that were actually undertaken and hope it's enough to impress.

Hence ... we're lusting after booth babes. Because it sounded "edgy."

The real challenge, then, is determining that 1:1 correspondence, and short of clairvoyance, no one is there yet.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:58 PM on July 24, 2009


I've never been to Comic Con, but I'm assuming most of the people there know to behave better than if they were at a frat house.

I think you are assuming incorrectly.
posted by Legomancer at 6:15 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


What would Dante think of this.

Seriously. It's not like Dante spent his whole life obsessing about a woman or anything.
posted by The World Famous at 6:17 PM on July 24, 2009 [6 favorites]



Are all videogames now just Ninja Gaiden with varying levels of stupidity?


Pretty much, but it's been that way for a few years now. It did really weird things to Civilization IV, where you had to dismember a dozen snakedemons in succession in order to, for example, invent the wheel. On top of the obvious problems there, if you screwed up the timing on the combo, you might accidentally change government types instead. Just a mess.
posted by Drastic at 6:17 PM on July 24, 2009 [14 favorites]


rokusan: A contest requiring geeks to take dirty pictures for a night with two bimbos?

Why would you assume the women working the EA booth are bimbos?

Please, by all means, disparage and belittle these women based on nothing but their job descriptions. Just don't then wonder why EA thinks it's OK to set up booth stunts like this one.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:19 PM on July 24, 2009 [5 favorites]


Ummmmm, God of Hell?

And I hated the gigantic laser battle against the alien AI armada to get to the Space Age.
posted by Samizdata at 6:33 PM on July 24, 2009


Why would you assume the women working the EA booth are bimbos?

EA is presenting them in that manner by describing them as "booth babes" and presenting them as prizes to be won.

Also, "commit acts of lust" generally does not mean "have your photo taken with someone" so if people don't read the fine print, I can imagine how those people might take this as encouragement to behave inappropriately.

Also, as naju said:

It's not just taking a picture, there's a "handpicked winner" implying that you need to do something to stand out, to rise above the crowd of boring pictures. Thus encouraging the more antisocial/clueless folks out there to do something stupid.

Which, yeah, pretty gross.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:40 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


This was cool, because I just got to spend several minutes reminiscing about the 1990 EA game "Escape From Hell". I enjoyed that in its time.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 6:57 PM on July 24, 2009


lame effort at back-pedalling
posted by seawallrunner at 7:00 PM on July 24, 2009


Justinian said: Speaking as a non-congoer, this is reason #1 that written SF conventions are hugely better than media or comic conventions: The huge distinction between "fans" and "pros" at the latter. At SF conventions pros don't tend to avoid the crowd since they are the crowd.

Allow me to say that I could have phrased that better to say "taking a break from the crowd to have a tea." Both of those men work insanely hard and are very, very, very good with the fans. I didn't mean to imply anything different.
posted by dejah420 at 7:01 PM on July 24, 2009


Pretty much, but it's been that way for a few years now. It did really weird things to Civilization IV, where you had to dismember a dozen snakedemons in succession in order to, for example, invent the wheel. On top of the obvious problems there, if you screwed up the timing on the combo, you might accidentally change government types instead. Just a mess.

So ... it's basically Robert Howard's Civilization.

Who do have to kill to get this made?
posted by Amanojaku at 7:08 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Does anyone seriously think that people are going to walk up to these ladies and think that it's part of a contest to grope them?

Yes. I can almost, as my father would say, guaran-damn-tee that's exactly what they'll do, or try to do.

I don't think this shit will stop until enough gamers organize to actually protest it and/or try to disrupt it (I like the subverting idea; posing with the booth girls while holding posters reading "This is Some Evil Sexist Shit, EA Assholes" or something along those lines. Seems like we need an Gamers Against Misogynistic Evildoers (GAME) bat-signal or something to target these sick fucks.

And those who say "you're just helping them by publicizing this!", I hope the gaming community isn't so backwards that revealing the rapey woman-hating underbelly of a game company actually increases sales, but if it does, all the more reason to raise holy hell about it.
posted by emjaybee at 7:08 PM on July 24, 2009 [11 favorites]


And maybe I'm stating the obvious, but the thing that annoys me about this isn't the Objectification of the Booth Babe, but the fact that the guidelines of the contest imply that no (straight) women would ever want to enter. Remind me again which level of hell is reserved for mouth-breathing lackwits who live in their parents' basements?

Dormant Gorilla: The same goes for the gay men who might be in attendance. I have no problems with posing for a photo with a female in a costume in order to enter a contest, but in the spirit of the thing, I should be able to pick out a man to stand next to. Hard to "commit acts of lust" with a booth babe when titties make my dick soft.


Quoted for truth. I've been following DI with interest since it entered development, because it replicated the stupid intellectual exercises I used to do with my high school buddies at lunch time. Other nerds may have been wondering the merits of Batman vs. Superman, I was expounding how Dante could totally have nuked the place had that stupid Virgil just given him a big enough sword.

But between this and the Christian fauxtest further up thread, EA really needs to get it shit together and hire some woman* on their marketing team. We make up half the frikkin population, guys, and we have money, and we like to unwind by slaying electronic proxies of all the people that pissed us off that day.

* And some Christians, because this really doesn't sound far off Hell House level evangelism in a lot of ways. I can see little Christian teenagers, extolling how righteous the game is because it lets you descend into hell and KICK SATAN"S ASS!!
posted by Jilder at 7:16 PM on July 24, 2009 [2 favorites]


Okay assuming the premise is sin and they wanted to capitalize on that there is way to do it and satisfy the edgy adult requirements without resorting to sexism or exploitation.

If EA wanted to do this right they would hire sex workers or strippers and have an entirely separate venue where one could perform several of the deadly sins. Not just lust. And of course said venue would feature male as well as female professionals. And they would have to be very well paid. EA should not assume the entire event is going to be consumed exclusively by straight men.

I'm occasionally a big fan of a few of the 7 deadly sins. And lust is one of my favorites. I also happen to think that it's okay to hire lust professionals within a specific set of mutually agreed upon terms.

See the deal is, like in the case of a good stripper, it's about a fantasy. You're buying a fantasy. But you HAVE to know the fantasy you are being sold is: A) A Not Real; and B) The Fantasy that the Professional Desires You Consensually. C) Terminated on the terms of the Professional. The only trouble happens when a customer thinks that the this "relationship" is real. Or attempts to exploit, abuse, or degrade the professionals humanity beyond a mutually beneficial exchange of goods and services.

EA is essentially setting up a free for all where the worst socially inept nerds are encouraged to abuse women without any sort of agreement of boundries between them. And that is just not okay.
posted by tkchrist at 7:21 PM on July 24, 2009 [3 favorites]


> Why would you assume the women working the EA booth are bimbos?

EA is presenting them in that manner by describing them as "booth babes" and presenting them as prizes to be won.


For better or worse, "booth babe" is the term that the audience knows. I don't think EA coined the phrase.

"Marketing Facilitator/Facilitatrix", while more neutral and realistic, is a) too much of a mouthful, b) lacking the alliterative pop, and c) probably too much naked truth for a PR person to utter.
posted by CKmtl at 7:24 PM on July 24, 2009


rokusan: A contest requiring geeks to take dirty pictures for a night with two bimbos?
Why would you assume the women working the EA booth are bimbos?


Did you read the article? The answer is that because thanks to this "contestversy", that is exactly what they are: game props and prize meat.

(One of my best friends is a model. I know many models, including many who have worked trade show booths from time to time. This isn't the same thing, and I doubt they'd work this one because of the special required bimbo-ness.)

I don't often choose words by accident. In this case, I deliberately chose a more loaded term than "booth babe", which is a term of art of specific and less harmful meaning.

I'm glad you noticed (that means the magic words, they're working!), but I'm going to stick with "bimbo", here.
posted by rokusan at 7:46 PM on July 24, 2009


Facilitatrix

Are those the ones in leather at the Age of Conan booth?
posted by rokusan at 7:48 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


fuq: So, I was thinking the other day about how much I love playing video games and that I should get back into gaming, but then I watched the Dante's Inferno trailer and I've changed my mind. Are all videogames now just Ninja Gaiden with varying levels of stupidity?

Pretty much that, or running around following the barrel of a gun in some grey ugly mess, shooting at an infinite number of insipid slow moving targets.

Except for Orange Box, which is actually fun and interesting.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:50 PM on July 24, 2009


that is exactly what they are: game props and prize meat.

By that definition, any female (or male) graduate degree-holding physicist who agrees to sit in a dunk tank at a carnival is a bimbo, no?
posted by scrowdid at 7:53 PM on July 24, 2009


rokusan: I don't often choose words by accident.

Except in this case. "Bimbo" does not mean what you seem to think it does.

I'm glad you noticed (that means the magic words, they're working!), but I'm going to stick with "bimbo", here.

Feel free to look up "patronising" whilst you're there.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:28 PM on July 24, 2009


This makes me sad.

I had been thinking of getting this game, you know, just as a lark. I enjoy a bit of Dante, and this looked just silly enough to be fun.

But now I really just can't do it. I'd feel guilty for supporting that contest even indirectly.

Which I guess makes this the worst ad campaign.
posted by voltairemodern at 9:29 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


Oh, also

"Booth babes"? Really, video game industry? You're placing yourself on par with stock car shows? Really?

Stay classy indeed.
posted by voltairemodern at 9:34 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


this is just to say
i have made
a video game
from a william carlos williams poem

and my marketing department
is encouraging
awkward nerds
to steal
plums

Forgive me
it was so obvious
and will make
a mint
posted by phooky at 9:41 PM on July 24, 2009 [17 favorites]


Too bad it has to be a booth babe, my girlfriend would probably be down with me sending them a homegrown A2M video.
posted by hamida2242 at 10:47 PM on July 24, 2009 [1 favorite]


"socially maladjusted guys possibly being inspired (regardless of fine print) to do something stupid."

What? There won't be any lesbians in the crowd?

"But now I really just can't do it. I'd feel guilty for supporting that contest even indirectly. "Which I guess makes this the worst ad campaign."

Only if they don't net 1+ sale for every sale they lose.
posted by Mitheral at 11:11 PM on July 24, 2009


By that definition, any female (or male) graduate degree-holding physicist who agrees to sit in a dunk tank at a carnival is a bimbo, no?

Hey, it's not our fault we are both highly intelligent and smokin' hot.
posted by Dr Dracator at 11:54 PM on July 24, 2009


New info...

check out the comments in this thread
posted by jfrancis at 1:48 AM on July 25, 2009


Flunkie said: The women that you are implicitly putting down here are also "real women".

No, I would argue that I'm not. What I'm putting down is a construct. A purely created marketing tool that demeans all women every step of the way. I'm willing to bet money that there is no woman anywhere on the planet that gets up in the morning, throws her shoulders back and curves her spine into a dyslexic S for maximum exposure, straps on her thigh-high, 6" heel boots, swishes her air in a graceful arc, and then catwalks off to clean the potty while dreaming about fat men wearing superhero costumes that waft the sad aroma of cheap polyester, old cat piss and distilled desperation.

The "booth babe" is a construct, just as playboy bunnies were a construct. There are "real women" who take on the role...who play the part...but the "booth babe" itself is a completely false image. "Booth Babe" is mud-flap girl made 3d. "Booth Babe" is not accorded the same treatment or respect as a real human. "Booth Babe" is treated like a toy. "Booth Babe" is fantasy, pure and simple. "Booth Babe" is no more real than the easter bunny, santa clause, or a penthouse forum letter.
posted by dejah420 at 2:11 AM on July 25, 2009 [8 favorites]


Can someone explain why these "booth babes" are limited to female gender? I think there are plenty folks of either gender who can appreciate some males being there, just to be decorative. A hunk here, a twink there, just to keep it spicey for everyone, even hippybear.

Oh, wait. It's important to pretend that only straight males go to such things, lest the fans be made uncertain about their masculinity.
posted by Goofyy at 3:57 AM on July 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


In the sense that we're talking about EA, and we're not talking about overworked and poorly-treated employees or restrictive monopolist sports-game contracts or micropayment screwjobs, I would say this campaign has been very effective.
posted by box at 5:07 AM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


The "booth babe" is a construct, just as playboy bunnies were a construct. There are "real women" who take on the role...who play the part...but the "booth babe" itself is a completely false image.

That is not what you were saying. You were insulting the women who play that role by assuming they don't know anything beyond "how to exfoliate", and said that they "feel like the most they have to offer is cleavage and a tiny waist." How do you know that? Are you a psychic? Or is it that anyone who makes job choices that you would not/can not make is obviously stupid? Even if they did feel the most they had to offer was their body, how is that your business and how do you have the right to insult them for it?

And how does a thread about encouraging abuse of these women turn into a thread CRITICIZING these women? Do we need to demean women to talk about the wrongness of demeaning them?

Bimbo is a stupid, dismissive, and hurtful word and I am shocked to hear it seriously thrown about by people who are allegedly criticizing sexist behavior.
posted by kathrineg at 7:48 AM on July 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


katherineg makes a pretty solid point.
posted by shmegegge at 8:11 AM on July 25, 2009


Katringeg, respectfully, I suggest you re-read what I wrote. I also suggest that perhaps you familiarize yourself with the hiring practices at these shows. The things that are requested of these models (as almost every girl at the show is a model) are not knowledge of the industry, but instead ability to fit into a size 2 costume (at the largest), ability to giggle at fanbois who are trying to touch you, and ability to stand in spine and foot destroying ridiculous high heels for 12 hours.

I have not, in anything I've written, demeaned the women who take on these roles. What I have demeaned, if anything, is an industry that demands those things out of actresses/models to sell their product to men. Because these shows don't market to women or gay men. As an example, consider the contests linked above where women weren't even allowed to enter. Because women don't matter to these companies, which is why they create these "booth babe" constructs that have no actual tie to what women actually *are*. These are constructs created to be what they think men *want women to be*, not what women are.

I have been working in/around the comics and gaming industry since 1989, and in that time, it has only gotten worse. I've got some pretty serious feminist street cred, and so to accuse me of sexism is to miss the point of what I'm saying.

When you go to these shows, you can spot the companies that are either led by women, or who have progressive attitudes towards women. Those companies are the ones that don't have some poor model trapped in a miserable outfit parading out in front of the booth.

I reiterate: "booth babe" is a marketing invention. That models are willing to take the role is not my issue here, nor am I arguing that those models have less value than any other human. What I am arguing is that the construct of booth babe is offensive, destructive, anti-woman and detrimental to an industry that I once loved.
posted by dejah420 at 8:24 AM on July 25, 2009 [5 favorites]


Except in this case. "Bimbo" does not mean what you seem to think it does.

Servants and masters. There's no patronizing here.

You see, they don't need to be bimbos, by which I mean they don't need to be complicit. This isn't about how attractive they are, how desirable they might be, or how intelligent they are or are not. Without changing anything else: they could not work at the booth in question that requires all that bimboing, and indeed that would raise my respect level out of the bimbo category. They don't need to change anything else, other than not support this stupid contest. They're going along with being treated this way, which, ding-ding, makes me print out a "bimbo" sticker. And they deserve it.

EA is treating them like bimbos, using them like bimbos, and they're going along with it, all bimboey. Of course, the odds are that if they're fine with this they wouldn't exactly mind the "bimbo" label anyway, so I don't think they need your defensiveness. :)

If it's like any other convention, there are 300 other booths at which the booth babes are not degraded so by this contest nonsense.

I say they should not put up with this treatment, and you call it patronizing.

Please. Find a better target and a better cause.
posted by rokusan at 8:32 AM on July 25, 2009


Or, you know, just read what dejah420 has been saying, but try doing it without the reflex ragefilter. She's clearly been around enough of this stuff to have a cool head w/r/t.

I have seen the booth babe extremism escalating (in the film and videogame business, anyway; I've never been to a comic convention but it sure sounds similar) in the last 20 years too. I reflexively blame the Japanese, myself, so you can accuse me of racism too if you like. ;)

Sadly, right now it's how the industry works. The "who fits in the size 2 costume" is obviously the criteria, if you have ever dared attempting an actual conversation with some of these girls, and that's sad too.

But this "escalation" of meat-marketing the women in question by EA is across the line, for me. Taking "booth babes", which are annoying enough, and ramping (vamping?) them up into bimbos, is making things much worse.

This kind of bad marketing escalation is a Bad Thing. If you scroll waaaay up to the top, I think that's what this whole post was supposed to be about, anyway.
posted by rokusan at 8:41 AM on July 25, 2009


Bimbo is a stupid, dismissive, and hurtful word.

Especially in 1934.

Which is part of why it's appropriate here. To wit: what century is this, EA?

EA is asking them to be bimbos, and encouraging their treatment as such, and that is bad, especially in the context of existing booth-babery which is pretty on the edge of tolerable as it is. I feel silly saying that so bluntly because isn't it obvious?

This is the equivalent of Fox News deciding that their female news babes* should start reporting topless. You were already pissing me off, Fox, and that would be way too far, though at least it would drop the pretense, so that's something.

If someone was here arguing that these (or any) women should be treated and marketed that way, and that this was just fine... then of course those people should be called out as ridiculous cavemen. But I don't see anyone doing that. The whole point of the situation is that they ARE being treated in that "stupid, dismissive and hurtful" way. So the stupid, dismissive hurtful word is pretty damn accurate.

And that's what EA has done to the job description through this contest.

It's easy to say "Ohhh you misogynist" over some naughty words, especially if you don't take the time to consider them in context or in relation to the broader point. But it would be far more productive to take that rage and channel it to the industry or to EA or the marketing company, or to the drooling kids entering the contest and/or groping the women.

But don't aim it at people here who are just calling a spade a spade, because if you slow down you might notice that we're probably in agreement over the entire situation. It's just about whether we want to behead the messengers or not.

Not a bimbo? Great. Then don't let EA treat you like one.

* and like "booth babe", news babe is a term of art that is actually used in news media Don't complain to me. Yes, it'd be nicer if the job did not exist.
posted by rokusan at 8:55 AM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can someone explain why these "booth babes" are limited to female gender? I think there are plenty folks of either gender who can appreciate some males being there, just to be decorative. A hunk here, a twink there, just to keep it spicey for everyone...

I've had this conversation at conventions, too, and I'd love to see that, not just because "hey there are women here we need to sell products to" but because a sizeable percentage of attending men would probably be better addressed that way, too.

A couple of shirtless oiled-up Fabios would seem appropriate, even, for some movie and game productions. But nope, never seen it.

I half-remember a display (not a booth, but smaller) for the videogame (dvd?) based on the movie 300, a movie which is about a whole lot of shirtless oiled up men... and even that had an inexplicably-female model working in front of it.

It's such an ingrained thing that I suspect the marketing/staffing decisions are just made out of safe-road habit these days, and nobody's interested in doing what might not work.

Is there some sort of convention at which the attendees skew strongly toward young, decision-making women? Because that might be the place to start looking for a parallel job.
posted by rokusan at 9:02 AM on July 25, 2009


Except for Orange Box, which is actually fun and interesting.

Yup, the Half-Life folks have done a nifty job putting one big twist onto the old framework each time.

TF2 threw away the regular old olive-drab realism of the earlier version, which looks the same as every other military shooter before or since, and made it cartoonish and funny, and that was brilliant.

I realize Portal fell on their laps from outside, but after the Valve do-over, look what it really is: a first person shooter where you never actually shoot anyone.

Clever twists on a hoary old game format.

(I can't wait to get a lecture on 'hoary', next.)
posted by rokusan at 9:09 AM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


EA really needs to get it shit together and hire some woman... on their marketing team.

At the risk of being a bullseye-wearing messenger again...

I've been at meetings about the use of sexy women in packaging DVDs and videogames (not trade show hires, but box and menu and in-game art). Women are pretty well-represented in marketing these days, and though I don't know about this team, it's very likely EA's campaign has women involved in them. But these women will tend to be as coldly calculating as any man, and they probably didn't get ahead in business by rocking boats.

In my experience, the basic formula that is followed could be summarized like this: "Look, if we put a hot chick on the box, guys will buy it because they like hot chicks, and girls will buy it because they want to be hot chicks."

And as much as that is scary to hear stated so bluntly (go ahead, yell at me, I'm not saying it's good), there is some statistical basis for this: If you look at a typical men's magazine, you will often see a sexy woman on the cover, along with words that mean "She's new and hot", presumably appealing to stereotypical male desire for... novelty (?). If you look at a typical women's magazine, you will often see a sexy woman on the cover, along with words that mean "You can look like this." Why that appeals to women, I'll let a woman guess, but it's certainly a formula.

So, well.... the problem is deep, and much older than videogaming. And as distasteful as it might be, marketing like that seems to have worked for quite a long time, and that's why it continues: they're not doing it because it's bad business, after all.

So why does it work? What is wrong with people?

It's a bigger question.
posted by rokusan at 9:20 AM on July 25, 2009 [2 favorites]


I've kind of sat this one out for the most part because I think everyone is doing an excellent job at expressing what the problem with this is.

I like comic books. To a lesser extent, I like video games. And I think both industries have come a long way at accepting and welcoming women as fans.

But things like this happen and I realize that there is still a long way to go. To me, this is basically EA saying "We don't want your money because you're a girl." Or, maybe instead "We only want the money of straight young males."

And to me, that's actually sort of helpful because I don't have a lot of money to spend anyway. It's good to know that someone doesn't want it.
posted by darksong at 12:54 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


it is possible to measure the effectiveness of advertising

Bull Shit. Let's say Dante's Inferno sells a million copies. I defy you to come up with even a theoretical plan (go crazy, imagine you have infinite resources) for determining what percentage of that success is attributable to this idiot marketing stunt.
posted by straight at 3:17 PM on July 25, 2009


Pretty much that, or running around following the barrel of a gun in some grey ugly mess, shooting at an infinite number of insipid slow moving targets.

You don't seem to know much about video games. I give way to no one in my disdain for current trends in gaming and in my belief that the old days were better, particularly for computer gaming, but if you can't find any good and original games except the Orange Box then you aren't trying hard enough.
posted by Justinian at 3:33 PM on July 25, 2009


Speaking as a non-congoer, this is reason #1 that written SF conventions are hugely better than media or comic conventions: The huge distinction between "fans" and "pros" at the latter. At SF conventions pros don't tend to avoid the crowd since they are the crowd.

(I apologize for this topic drift, but this touched a nerve.)

I've attended both comicons and SF conventions as a pro. I don't bother to go to the SF ones anymore; they're too depressing for reasons similar to the ones you celebrate.

In my experience*, the vast majority of people who care enough to participate in lit-focused SF cons, or in the lit tracks at generalist SF cons, are writers themselves. I've gotten fifty or so fan letters from readers and while every one of those letters is a delight and a blessing, they are also invariably from aspiring writers.

Creatively, the field felt inward-looking. Economically, it was...unrewarding.

At least at comicons, I see evidence of a readership -- a younger readership! I remember how astonished I was at my first show, where I saw children who appeared to be attending voluntarily, and not as tow-alongs behind their parents.

*of course, this is anecdote and not data. There may be entire zip codes full of readers who delete Word from their PCs on delivery and have Amazon as their homepage. But I sure didn't meet 'em, and not for a lack of trying, though I never resorted to booth babes or trolling the Internet.
posted by Sauce Trough at 5:29 PM on July 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


CoolPapaBell,

I understood your point. I disagree with it.

*Predicting* the potential effectiveness of a PR campaign is impossible. PR is not an exact science. However, its results and effectiveness can most certainly be measured, and yes, measured in terms of product sales. I do it for a living. For various clients, my agency breaks down reports into local/regional/national/international market penetration, coupled with some department/specialty store sales predictions and results . We do this for several reasons not the least of which is we need to be able to report to a client what has and has not been effective, and why.

A portion of the work I do is for companies whose brands are built solely through PR media outreach campaigns, and not through advertising. Place a product in an article in a national magazine, listing one specific outlet where it is available and the rise in sales is easily measurable.
posted by zarq at 5:41 PM on July 25, 2009


Place a product in an article in a national magazine, listing one specific outlet where it is available and the rise in sales is easily measurable.

Sure. When you have five or six separate but overlapping marketing initiatives for a single relatively short-lived product, and your customers don't provide reasons why they bought the product, how do you track that?
posted by me & my monkey at 6:01 PM on July 25, 2009


Sauce Trough: I'm sure your experience is accurate. I'm not a con-goer but my understanding is that written SF conventions are greying at a rate that rivals Japan. Possibly even faster.

Aside: This isn't evidence that SF is dying, it is evidence that SF won. It went mainstream. Kids who read or watch SF these days don't feel the same need to seek out a welcoming subculture where their hobby isn't disdained. Or, if they do, they can find it much more easily and (particularly) cheaply on the internet. This is problematic for those who still find a lot of value in the literary SF conventions but it's a good thing for the genre as a whole.

Anyway, you seem to have made a fundamental error. You weren't supposed to go to the convention because it was economically rewarding, you were supposed to go because you were a reader and fan (small-f fan) of written SF and you wanted to discuss the genre with like minded folks. And, of course, get blitzed on the free booze and possibly hook up with the aforementioned like minded folks. But mostly because you wanted to listen to and communicated with folks who shared your hobby.
posted by Justinian at 7:32 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, media cons like comic*con generally don't have Nobel-prize winning economists sitting around having 90 minute talks with Mefites in front of an audience, like Worldcon will in a few weeks. That alone makes Worldcon better.

(Krugman and Stross if anyone is wondering)
posted by Justinian at 10:15 PM on July 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I've been reading our own Scalzi and Stross from the local library, and they're both great in different ways that I love. There are some in-jokes and good stories there.
posted by lilywing13 at 3:15 AM on July 26, 2009


I've been reading our own Scalzi and Stross from the local library.

I was going to yell "media pirate!" to be funny, and then I realized I own no Scalzi or Stross books myself, either, and now I feel all guilty. I think I will buy some.
posted by rokusan at 9:47 AM on July 26, 2009


Place a product in an article in a national magazine, listing one specific outlet where it is available and the rise in sales is easily measurable.

zarq, at least in that case, you can tell a plausible story about why the rise in sales is probably the result of that particular ad, but it's still not proof, unless you know that the ad is the only way anyone could have found out about that particular sales outlet, and if that's the case, it's a pretty atypical sales environment and your evaluation arguably has little relevance to the measurement of advertising in general.

But I still defy you to come up with any way of determining whether or not the advertising stunt being discussed in this thread had any effect on the sales of Dante's Inferno.
posted by straight at 11:11 AM on July 26, 2009


Straight's point is valid in that the internet (and viral and alternative marketing thereupon) are still in their infancy, and the metrics and methods to measure the success thereof are nowhere near as well-developed as they are in older media. Google has invested many boatloads of dollars and brains in measuring the effectiveness of plain old text ads alone, and even in that very narrow category, they're still far from perfect.

At the heart of the problem is how difficult it is to find a neutral "control" group against which to measure a group "targeted" by the specific marketing venture.

To continue an upstream metaphor, you can't unsee a turkey that falls from a half mile overhead and shatters your windshield.
posted by rokusan at 12:07 PM on July 26, 2009


There's a quote about advertising that only 1/2 of the advertising for a product does anything, but you can't ever tell which 1/2.
posted by empath at 9:48 PM on July 26, 2009


Somehow I see this whole thing ending with a bunch of nerds dressed as random starwars/lotr/warcraft/you get the point characters looking over the body of a dead booth girl in a motel 6 bath tub saying "what do we do!?!?"
posted by Mastercheddaar at 7:02 AM on July 27, 2009


But I still defy you to come up with any way of determining whether or not the advertising stunt being discussed in this thread had any effect on the sales of Dante's Inferno.

First of all, PR ≠ advertising. They are related, but separate disciplines. My comment above only refers to public relations, because that's my personal area of expertise. With regard to product placement, public relations is the process of working with news media in the hopes that they will favorably cover/review/discuss/mention said product.

As you rightly mention, this contest is a marketing stunt -- part of the product's ad campaign. It has little to do with the company's public relations efforts on behalf of the game, except perhaps that some poor schnook of a publicist is no doubt going to have to apologize on behalf of the company for the sexism shown by the campaign.
posted by zarq at 8:35 AM on July 27, 2009


Somehow I see this whole thing ending with a bunch of nerds dressed as random starwars/lotr/warcraft/you get the point characters looking over the body of a dead booth girl in a motel 6 bath tub saying "what do we do!?!?

Darren Aronofsky's people are all over this, but me, I'm hoping David Lynch gets it.
posted by rokusan at 10:35 PM on July 27, 2009


A couple of shirtless oiled-up Fabios would seem appropriate, even, for some movie and game productions. But nope, never seen it.

Funny you should mention Fabio.

For what it's worth, male booth babes *do* exist, though they are, obviously rare. They're generally referred to as "booth bois."
posted by Amanojaku at 11:05 PM on July 27, 2009


A happy ending! Gay Gamer Wins EA Promotion, Says No Thanks

He offers them suggestions on things they can do with the $240 runner-up prize he won. Worth reading.
posted by the_bone at 4:56 PM on July 29, 2009 [2 favorites]


Original post on gaygamer.net. Really well said, PixelPoet!
posted by goo at 5:47 PM on July 29, 2009


Clarification: PixelPoet was selected as a random runner-up (not the grand prize winner), who posed with a "booth bear," though he initially sent in pictures to "see what humor [he could] extract from them, and what boundaries [he could] push."

Other fun links: #EAFail link round-up, and some twitter users co-opted the #lust tag with links to Sims 3 and Deadspace torrents, both EA property.

EA issued a half-hearted apology with the following clarifications: "Commit acts of lust" is simply a tongue-in-cheek way to say take pictures with costumed reps. Also, a "Night of Lust" means only that the winner will receive a chaperoned VIP night on the town with the Dante's Inferno reps, all expenses paid, as well as other prizes.

Also, the Dante's Inferno facebook page, which may have once included pictures of SDCC attendee-on-booth babe acts of lust, now has a much more tame contest: "tag yourself in hell."
posted by filthy light thief at 9:12 AM on July 30, 2009


« Older Linguists and Missionaries often find themselves i...  |  Thanks to a combination of pub... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments