This year, as with every year, the UK gaming world stayed up until Stupid o’Clock to watch E3. It’s when everyone gets together, the industry pulls out all the stops, the big news of the year is made and the companies wheel out the big guns…
Unfortunately, Ubisoft took that last one as a euphemism. You see, they wanted to make sure people were watching, so what did they do? They put tits on it. Just Dance 4? Tits. Shootmania? Tits. Far Cry 3? Tits with tattoos.
The presentation started as it meant to go on with a group of female dancers gyrating in tiny shorts, while Flo Rida knocked around on-stage doing… whatever it is Flo Rida does. Why anybody would want him associated with their game is beyond me, but he was allegedly there to push Just Dance 4. The host confirmed their purpose as eye-candy with a comment about ‘watching the hot girls’, just in case it had been overly subtle. Having set the tone, they then got into the real meat of their presentation: the Far Cry 3 demo. The main trailer features a grand total of three female characters; all non-combatants, all heavily sexualised, all in under 8 minutes. Well done Ubisoft, even Peter Stringfellow is impressed.
The most prominent woman, and the only one to get any dialogue, is the first person you see in the trailer. As the scene fades into view, a near-naked woman inexplicably straddles you while you touch her up. This goes on for a full uncomfortable 30 seconds. They actually thought the best way to advertise Far Cry 3 is to linger for half a minute on the main character getting to second base.
Then she sashays around you – camera helpfully focusing on her arse – while flirtatiously fantasising about how many people you are going to kill. She’s a poster child for sexualised violence.
The next woman is in the gameplay segment of the trailer, and her job is to be raped. She screams, the hostile AI is quickly dispatched, and then she is left behind to beg the trees for help. You see, the rape was only significant in that it was committed by a villain. The actual effect on the woman is irrelevant. You could replace her with a fleshlight on a stick so long as a nearby sign said “BAD GUY DICKS ONLY.”
The third is barely even there. A hallucinated pole-dancer turns up, does a couple of quick turns around the pole, changes shape into a variety of other characters and is never seen again. No, seriously. Possibly they were worried the dimmer audience members would get distracted by the armrests.
In a way, you could say she best represents the portrayal of female characters throughout this trailer – which is sad considering she only appears for a moment. Still, she shows the problem clearly: a woman with no real identity appears, does something sexual and then vanishes without a trace. These are not characters, they are bare skin which Ubisoft hopes will sell their game.
Just in case there were any doubts about the way Ubisoft were pushing their products, there was also Shootmania. Being a shooter made primarily with eSports in mind, it was only natural to demonstrate the game with two teams of pro gamers. And as for a Boys vs Girls theme? Sure! And of course the guys wore comfortable jeans and shirts, just like the gi-
…Oh. Nevermind, the girls wore tight t-shirts, tighter short shorts and high heels. Along with the rest of the presentation, the message is very clear. As far as Ubisoft are concerned, the only use they have for women is as bait to lure their intended audience: men. It is creepy, sexist and utterly offensive to everybody involved. The least the guys could have done is shown a little leg.
Ubisoft made a number of things clear with this presentation and the main thrust seems to be that the sole the point of women is for men to stick their dicks in them. This depiction of women as object first, person second is incredibly aggressive and they take every opportunity to press in the message, with all the maturity of a teenage forum dweller yelling ‘tits or GTFO’.
The video gaming community already has a reputation for being incredibly bigoted and things like this really do not help. We might say the community is open and friendly to everyone, but one of the biggest names in the industry, at the most well-known and prominent expo, decided to cover their products with hyper-sexualised women purely to appeal to straight male viewers at the expense of everyone else. It is exactly this sort of thing that has keeps alive the view of gamers as sexist, lonely men with no friends.
But why shouldn’t the mainstream see us that way? After all, our major companies clearly do. They think we’re idiots who can be won over with softcore porn. They think we play games one-handed. And I don’t know about my straight brethren, but Ubisoft could advertise their next game with a naked Aldis Hodge and I still wouldn’t be dazzled into buying it because we are better than this. I know the games community can be mature, civilised, respectable and intelligent but as long as we allow companies to pull this shit we won’t be respected. Besides, is this really what we want? For companies to honestly believe we can be bought with nothing more than a quick bit of T&A?
If we really want to shake the bad reputation gamers have, we need to stop pulling this shit. We need to make it clear that if a company wants us to respect their product, they need to respect us instead of treating the men like immature adolescents and the women like bait. We need them to put a little effort in.