With all the sexism talk about games nowadays, one aspect of games got some attention. The booth babes, usually beautiful girls hired to dress provocatively and give visibility to a product during huge events, like last week E3. it is not exclusive to game shows, as car shows are (in)famous for the extensive use of beautiful women along side the products they are selling. Sex sells, and the people at marketing know that. PAX, a game expo made by the Penny Arcade guys have a no-booth babe policy. It is their show and they can have any rules they want. But do we really need to get rid of them?
My answer is no. Booth babe are part of the fun of those shows, to see how the companies can use real people to advertise their products. But the booth babes concept can be greatly improved, and it is not that hard to do it. It is as simple as:
- Making them dress as characters of the game: instead of just getting some pretty girls and giving them some kinky outfit with the logo of the game, make them dress as characters of the game. It is funnier, it helps way more to advertise the game and is way less sexist than just some bikini girls running around. Also...
- booth babes don't need to be hot chicks. Yes, I said it. A good costume is as good to get attention to your game as it is a hot girl. using people dressed as the characters, including the male ones, as long as it is done nicely, will get you the attention you want. Gamers aren't in the show just to look at semi-nude women (we have the internet for that), but for the games, and adding booth dudes dressed as characters will get the attention you want too.
In fact, it may get even more consumers for your product, as it will have way less of a back slash from gamers who worries about sexism and not alienated half of your possible demographic.
- Make your booth people understand the product they are selling. I know many of those girls (and the few dudes) are professional promoters, who do several expos and shows during the year. But take two days to explain to them what the game or hardware do, make them play the game before hand or use the software, and give them explanation about the most asked questions by the visitors. I know they don't need to know things like how much FLOPS it have, but it would be nice to find some booth babes who don't even know the name of the characters or the common terminology used in games.
- They shouldn't be the main attraction. Expositors must not turn the booth babes in a show. It sounds like you don't have faith in your product and is hiding it behind pretty looking girls. The product, a game or a hardware, must be the main attraction, with the booth babes just as a funny touch.
That is my opinion on it. Booth babes can be part of all game shows and expos in my opinion, but they can be more than just some eye candy for guys who have a bad love life. They can be part of the show, they can be helpful for the attendees and they don't need to be hot girls. If they are there just to be pretty, then I agree it is sexist. But they can be more than that. they can be a way to the companies connect more easily with the consumers, if done right.
In the end, how you do is more important than what you do. And if you do booth babes right, they will be fun and nice for everyone.