Gaming has always had moral busybodies who have wanted to censor gaming. In the 90’s, the US Senate had ludicrous meetings with the media about the gore in video games and how it affects youth. The 00’s had Jack Thompson going to the media about the violence and sexism in video games. The 10’s have had the Sarkeesian’s of the world talking to the internet about microagressions and “feminism” in gaming. This trend has been going on for a while now about the people who want to control what you play.
The moral crusaders know that attacking gamers head-on leads to problems. The programmers of these crusader policies aren’t going to ABC news about this problem because they know that the public outlash would be way more than they could handle. Instead, they are attempting to change the conventions and trade shows you go to with policies made by socially maladaptive people. One of the most important changes they want to enact is banal but relevant in the 2010’s: they want to ban “booth babes.”
A “booth babe” is an attractive woman hired by the company to be at their booth, advertising the company. These woman are usually given sexy uniforms and interact with the public about the product they are paid to advertise. This system has been in place for most trade shows and has worked pretty well.
Many game journalists have complained about booth babes even though these women aren’t slaves and make on average $25-$50 USD an hour greeting convention goers and taking pictures with them.
One of the conventions that is at the forefront of banning booth babes is Penny Arcade Expo (PAX). Pax has decided in 2010 to enact a strict dress code policy that would mean the end of the booth babe. Gaming websites celebrated this as a major victory. The gaming websites left out that these changes would also affect women convention goers who cosplay as well.
Here is Pax’s policy on booth babes:
“PAX has a strict ‘no booth babe’ policy with the purpose of creating an environment where everyone can feel comfortable and welcome, and the focus is on games, not hired booth staff.
Booth babes are defined as staff of ANY gender used by exhibitors to promote their products at PAX by using overtly sexual or suggestive methods. Partial nudity, the aggressive display of cleavage and the navel, and shorts/skirts higher than 4” above the knee are not allowed. If for any reason an exhibit and/or its contents are deemed objectionable to PAX management, the exhibitor will be asked to alter the attire of its staff.
Cosplayed characters that are playable in-game are an exception to this rule (within reason), and exhibitors must obtain permission from show management prior to the show.
If for any reason an exhibit and/or its contents are deemed objectionable to PAX management, the exhibitor will be asked to alter the attire of its staff or remove those staff from the show.
Cosplaying attendees may be asked to alter or modify their costume if it is considered overtly sexual.
Companies who have made strong independent sexy characters that dress scantily now have to get approval to hire a model to cosplay as that character.
These moral busybodies want to control what women wear at conventions and not just the hired guns. An attractive girl who wants to cosplay as a sexy game character and is paying to attend PAX can no longer wear her costume. The people who have prepositioned this system aren’t traditionalist Saudi-Arabian gamers—they fall in line with Feminist Frequency and other feminist groups.
In 2012 this exact situation happened before. A famous cosplayer named Jessica Nigri decided to cosplay a character from “Lollipop Chainsaw “. The character she cosplayed was an attractive blonde woman who wears a cheer uniform. She wasn’t a hired gun or paid to do this cosplay, just a fan of the series.(Correction: She was a paid model by Warner Brothers. The company behind Lollipop Chainsaw.)
When she was walking around the convention center, she was told by PAX security to change her outfit as it was seen as being too sexy. Here is the picture of the outfit she was wearing (it’s on the left):
Now I don’t know about you, but that’s not too risque in the 2010’s. I’ve seen some truly scantily clad ladies in public and that ranks about a 3 out of 10. I thought this was the age of enlightenment that stopped moral prudishness from being policy.
PAX is supposed to be a “progressive” video game convention
At Pax Austin 2015 they have had panels that wouldn’t make you question there progressiveness. Here are some of the panels:
- Queering up Misconceptions: LGBT Game Industry Life
- Women In Geek Girl Media
- Games Criticism: Is it time for a change?
- Turning Up the Heat: Women Working in Games
As I was researching this article. I found zero articles about the booth babes complaining about their jobs. There’s no booth babe writing bombshell tell-all books about the stressful life of a booth babe. Many of these girls just want to make a living and don’t mind being dressed in the way they are. They are not harassing people and they’re not rubbing their breasts or booty on unwilling participants. They are regular girls, many of whom are just amateur models, doing a gig. The PAX administration and the audience have shown their puritanical need to tell women what to wear.
The last unsettling part is the sour grapes shown by women about other women. Now, I know this shouldn’t be a concern on Reaxxion but one of the posts hit me in the gut with the maliciousness and self-misogyny.
The “serious” industry should take a look at PAX, the largest US videogaming conference, which has banned booth babes. Last year at PAX Prime, heavily made-up women in short skirts and spike heels handing out sample beverages sparked immediate complaints from the floor and were instantly banned and removed. Way to go, gamers! “
Those “heavily made-up women in short skits and spike heels” lost their jobs and probably didn’t get paid. This woman celebrated the fact that other women lost their jobs because they were dressed in a way that she doesn’t approve. If it was up to Judith, they wouldn’t hire any attractive women, whose only sin is being good looking and wearing revealing clothes.
The booth babe conundrum has shown the world that the narcissistic crusaders of this world have far bigger aims. They weren’t trying to tell companies to put on more clothes on there models: they want to make sure that no attractive women are around dressing in ways they don’t approve. These progressive gestapo aren’t in uniforms like the famous gestapo we know, but they act no different. The people who want to control what women wear at conventions aren’t going to stop at fashion shaming attractive women—they want to stop all behavior they don’t like.
If they were willing to do this assault on women and their fashion freedom, expect them to be even harsher on men who refuse to cave in. We must stop them before they ban all signs of masculinity at game conventions next.