Booth babes banned at E3 2006?
Source: The "sex & games" page of the International Game Developers Association Web site. The official story: See below. What we heard: Each year, the industry struggles to show that, like films in the early 20th century, games are a legitimate, cutting-edge art form struggling to overcome...
Source: The "sex & games" page of the International Game Developers Association Web site.
What we heard: Each year, the industry struggles to show that, like films in the early 20th century, games are a legitimate, cutting-edge art form struggling to overcome misunderstanding. And, each year, industry critics trot out the stable of "booth babes" at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), to prove games cater to humanity's lowest common denominator. Stories like last year's widely reported account of the so-called "E3 groper" didn't help the issue.
So when rumors spread today that the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the industry lobby that puts on E3, had banned scantily clad models at exhibits, gaming insiders reacted with a combination of shock ("Whaaa?!") and "Awwww!" ("No booth babes? Cancel my ticket!"). The mostly unattributed Internet reports stemmed from a post on the "sex & games" blog of the IGDA, the self-described "definitive news source for sexual content in games."
According to the IGDA page, the ESA had imposed "de facto censorship" on E3 exhibitors, saying that "material, including live models, conduct that is sexually explicit and/or sexually provocative, including but not limited to nudity, partial nudity and bathing suit bottoms, are prohibited on the Show floor, all common areas, and at any access points to the Show." Judging by previous E3s, that would all but mean an end to models on the show floor, as they are not known for their modesty.
GameSpot contacted the ESA regarding the nascent controversy. An E3 staffer said that the rules regarding attire have always been in place and that they have long not been enforced. "People largely ignored us," said the staffer, saying that booth babes would merely relocate to other parts of the show floor when asked to dress a little more modestly. The rep said the $5,000 fine was introduced this year to add some teeth to the regulation.
But does that mean there won't be models hawking publishers' latest wares at E3? In a word, no. Like at virtually every other trade expo, E3 exhibitors will use attractive women to help make inroads with mostly male E3 attendees. But are they on notice not to be as risqué as in past years? Given the still-simmering fallout from last year's "Hot Coffee" Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas sex-mini-game scandal, the answer appears to be "yes."
Bogus or not bogus?: Bogus that they are banned, not bogus that they won't be able to undress to excess.