This weekend, PAX East, a game convention made by the Penny Arcade guys, got an undesired spotlight because cosplayer Jessica Nigri was asked to change her outfit or leave the show. She is making promotion to Lollipop Chainsaw, a Suda 51 game featuring a cheerleader chainsaw wielder zombie hunter. She was cosplaying as Juliet Starling, the main character. In the first day, she was using the standard cheerleader costume while in the second, she was wearing a more risque outfit.
|As seem here.|
Apparently, people complained about the revealing outfit, so they asked her to change back to the cheerleader one, but later they asked her to change again or leave the expo. See, PAX East can decide what is appropriate or not, it is their show. It fail a bit if they allowed the first outfit during a whole day and asked for changes in the second. It would be better if they have warned Jessica Nigri and Warner Bros games from day one about the outfit. But PAX seems to want to be a family friendly event, and they have a 'no booth babes' policy, where Jessica, in fact, apply.
I understand the thinking behind the 'no booth babes' rule. They aren't a positive thing for the show, and creating a show were the games, not the babes, are the stars, is a good thing. But them, what kind of games they are showing in the event? Easy, all kinds. They never asked to WB to not show Lollipop Chainsaw, a game with violence and sexual themes.
|You cannot show boobies, but this is OK, apparently.|
And it is that kind of incoherence that make the decision seems baffling. So, she cannot show some cleavage, but games not only show spicy stuff, they show blood, swearing and many other things that I would not allow my young offspring be exposed until they show maturity to understand it. And this is where I think PAX East made it wrong. If they want a family friendly show, only family friendly games should be exhibited.
But this shows how West is in a way a weird place. It seems that extreme violence is easier to accept than sex. It may be something of cultural origin, but it is something weird nonetheless. I think less damaging to a kid to see some naked bodies than seeing someone having their heads exploded. it is not that I believe that games can turn anyone in violent sociopaths. I think only people (of all ages) who already have some troubles can be influenced by games. But children have trouble to understand contest and to separate reality from fiction.
I think it is the parents the ones who must explain context and fiction to the children. It is them who have the obligation to take care of their own children. Not governments and surely not the game industry. I accept that games have the obligation to be clear on what kind of content they have. So parents can do informed purchases.
Sex and violence exists. Hiding it from the kids will not avoid them to have contact with it. Preparing them to the unavoidable first contact with such themes is the parents job. PAX East was not in the wrong by setting rules about what people can and cannot do in their event. But they need to be more coherent, as society needs to be, about what they deem OK for the show.
And society in general needs to stop treating sex as some kind of forbidden matter. Sex exists, people do sex, your children will do it someday. If they will be prepared to it or not, it is parents responsibility. Not the games.