Online Game Advertising

So, here’s the deal.

Gender based advertising sucks. And for online games, it’s kind of pathetic.

I was happily reading along over on fanfiction.net, I do love a few of the writers there if not the site itself. Anyway… I got to the end of the chapter and right there next to the comments box is an advertisement for Siegelord. Not the one with the map and the castle and the troupe of armored soldiers approaching as it says play now, join for free and earn gems.

The advertisement had a scantily clad, amply endowed, crying woman pleading with you, a presumably male online gamer, to save her people.

I’m willing to bet that my reaction has a lot to do with how my parents raised me, maybe even more than being an actual adult female gamer. But it sure as hell wasn’t “I will save you, fair maiden!”

My reaction was “Pick up a sword, you useless crying lump.”

Now, I have never seen a scantily clad, sylph like pretty-man sobbing in an advertisement pleading for someone else to save his people. Although I am very certain my reaction would be the same, and that a guy’s reaction to seeing someone of his own gender show like that would probably be the same.

“Pick up a sword, you useless crying lump.”

The plea to save “my people” indicates that the character in the advertisement is some kind of leader, or in the case of the sobbing tits of doom, probably a princess… which is also supposed to be a leader. Because princesses grow up to be queens.

And a queen without her king is still the gods be damned queen.

I’m not inclined to rush to the aid of a people with an obviously spineless leader. I can stand a character who needs help, that isn’t a problem. It’s the doe eyed, tear soaked, sex object begging the player to do it for her that annoys me to the absolute end of my patience.

While I found the graphic offensive enough, what really gets on my nerves is the text. “Save my people.”

Are they being charged by the letter for the ad? They couldn’t fit “Help me save my people” on it?

Warsong’s commercial tag line is less irritating. “Will you be my Champion?” is less objectionable because it is issued as a challenge, not a plea. Yeah, the character issuing the challenge is still a very pretty female, but she’s not falling out of her dress and she’s walking through the battle field like a goddess of war. She’s not a blubbering lump.

So, Siegelord people! If you come across this, could I offer a few suggestions?

1. Replace the sobbing damsel in distress. Really, it’s so overdone.

2. Make the replacement a stronger character. And by that I don’t mean a guy with bulging muscles and a huge sword. If you’re going to have a female leader asking for help, make her freaking regal. Her country is being invaded, so obviously they have something worth taking! Let the woman have her pride!

3. Change the flipping tag line. More Princess Leia, less bodice-ripper heroine.

Remember, using a female character to advertise your game isn’t a bad thing. But you might want to model her more on the Queens of Narnia (went to war right beside their brothers), or Batgirl (dressed up in costume and went out to punch criminals in the face), or Princess Leia (Hey, Obi-Wan. I’ve been captured, but it’s really more important to get these droids, and the information I was smuggling, to my dad than it is to save me, okay thanks!) than on the woman swooning on the cover of a smutty novel.

Girls and women play these games, too, you know. And advertisements like that only show us that you think we’re weak. So we’ll go play something else. And even with “play for free” you’re loosing a decent sized chunk of the market.

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Gamer Gate? Seriously?

To be absolutely honest, I would never have heard of Zoe Quinn if the so-called “GamerGate” hadn’t come up on my twitter and facebook feeds. Because two men I respect and find amusing brought it up or replied to others in their posts. I never would have heard about Anita … I can’t even remember her last name much less how to spell it. That woman making all the really good points and critical observations on Feministfreqency over on YouTube.

But here’s the thing. Spreading the personal information, addresses, locations, financial information, and phone numbers of other people all over the internet … this Doxxing crap? It’s a crime. Making threats of rape and murder? That’s a crime. That’s terrorism.

Here’s what it boils down to: So what if Zoe cheated on her former boyfriend? That’s between her, her ex, and whoever else. If you weren’t having sex with her, it isn’t your business. If you were, that’s none of my business. And if you’re going to start screaming “journalistic integrity” how about screaming it at the journalist instead of the game developer? Oh, and before you start pointing out all the real celebrities who’ve had their personal lives splashed across the media? I don’t care, that’s none of my business either.

So what if you don’t agree with Anita’s observations on her YouTube videos? You’re allowed to disagree, you’re more than welcome to offer a different viewpoint, but calling people crude names and threatening violence, especially sexual violence, is really just proving that she isn’t wrong.

If you can’t figure out a way to express your disagreement in a mature manner, well, it’s only ever going to come off as you being a twelve year old stomping his feet in the middle of the arcade screaming that girls aren’t allowed to play after your high score got wiped out by someone in pigtails and a Hello Kitty tee-shirt.

Y’know what, though? Half of all the people playing video games in the US are female. Some of us have been gaming since we had to beg our parents to give us our allowance in quarters and give us a ride to the nearest arcade so we could spend the entire roll on a beat ’em up or a shoot ’em up game.

We have been here just as long as you have. Playing video games, reading comic books, watching Star Trek, Star Wars and Doctor Who, and collecting dice for table top RPGs and action figures.

We have as much right to enjoy and create and even criticize games and game culture as you do. That goes for the act of being a nerd and/or geek in general, actually.

And we aren’t leaving.

So go make your own sandwich, we’re busy.