Thursday, October 25, 2007

Marketing a violent shooting game? Call Playboy!

(Thanks to Cara for forwarding this my way)

Kane & Lynch: Dead Men was a game that I was sort of interested in. I'm sort of a sucker for games that offer co-op play or that have interesting multiplayer options. That the multiplayer has you teaming up to complete objectives with the possibility that one or more of your team members (including you) might turn on the rest was interesting, and adds what I think sounds like an interesting element of paranoia to teaming up with people. The fact that death in multiplayer switches you to the other side, with the goal of stopping the rest of the team also struck me as a pretty cool aspect.

The story mode (single player and co-op) sounded interesting too- one character is a former mercenary opposed to harming innocent people who is fighting to save his family, while the other is a psychopath who experiences visual halucinations during gameplay. Combine all of these things with a story and gameplay that pays tribute to gangster films like Heat and the Departed, and, yeah, I'm interested.

And then the promotional campaign started.


This is exactly the sort of thing that I'm talking about when I talk about how gaming culture is steeped in sexism. It's not just the characters in games, it's the way that gamers, creators, and marketing teams treat women, too. This contest isn't about including women in the game- it's about using women's bodies to increase interest in their product.

This seems like such an obviously bad idea, that it's hard to know exactly where to begin. I find the use of women's nude bodies to promote the "hotness" of a really violent shooter really disturbing. Why not do a promotion that involves people generally trying to look like they belong in Kane & Lynch? Why try to tie it to looking hot and sexy? It doesn't even make sense. And, seriously, way to alienate a huge section of the population there, folks. Nothing says you respect women gamers like taking a game where the only prominant woman is a hostage, and use Playboy as a major part of your promotion. Nothing screams "We respect women gamers" like trying to use their naked bodies to advertise your product.

I'm glad to see that at least some major gaming media have expressed some reservations about this kind of promotion, too.


Anonymous said...

Well, that post simultaneously made me want to play the game and want to boycott the game. Thank you so very much. *sigh* Oh well. It does annoy me how game companies seem to feel the need to distract the player with cheap sexuality. It's supposed to make the game world more attractive, but it ends up just making it seem sleazy and dilutes the actual atmosphere of the game. You know, the part that makes FPS #26799 different from all its fellows. As far as style goes, "we have women with large breasts" doesn't measure up to atmospheric settings like Half-Life 2's, no matter how much my libido is supposed to say otherwise.

Anonymous said...

...actually, to continue my rant, I feel really insulted by that kind of marketing. Besides the fact that that kind of content is blatantly not going to be in the game, the marketers are violating the whole atmosphere of the game by doing this. Imagine if something like Bioshock were marketed like this. It would alienate the people who were interested because of the setting and horror factor. What were they thinking? "put breasts in and guys will buy it, because they're so shallow and led around by their penises everywhere that they'll buy anything you want in exchange for some porno." That sounds pretty much like what they're doing.