After I attend a con, I like to check out the feedback forums to see what people really thought of the con. You can really see how well a con was run when all the suggestions made are the same minor changes. As I read through the PAX East forums, topic after topic was filled with compliments to the staff along with some problems with the con that people felt needed to be addressed. So what was the biggest complaint that I saw? Was it the Convention Center Authority people who could be a bit on the aggressive side? Nope. The long as hell lines for certain demos (i.e. the 5 hour wait for Star Wars: The Old Republic)? Not really. Could it have been the handful of booth babes that were out on the floor? OF COURSE IT WAS, WHAT ELSE COULD BE AS HORRIFIC AS ATTRACTIVE WOMEN PEDDLING THEIR WARES WHILE ALMOST SHOWING OFF THEIR NAUGHTY BITS?? OH THE HUGE MANATEE!
Let me back up for a sec. Unbeknownst to me, as this was my first PAX, the organizers of PAX created a "no booth babes" rule. Seeking to not exclude anyone, they felt that booth babes are a hindrance to gamers and thus set rules against having them on the floor. The biggest culprit ended up being the scantily dressed schoolgirls at the Duke Nukem Forever booth. So what do the guys at PAX consider a booth babe? Essentially anyone that is not an employee of a company that is revealing a lot that isn’t cosplaying. So how did these few dastardly companies get away with having these harpies out on the floor? The women were "employees" and given some general info about whatever product they were there to promote. Thus, the whole convention was ruined, that is, for overly-sensitive congoers that squirm at the sight of cleavage or have a need to constantly berate anyone that works for a game company that has just a tiny bit less knowledge about gaming than they do.
It’s time to face facts here. Gaming is entertainment and it has never been just for kids. Gamers want to fight to be received by the public en masse in order to have their hobby respected, but in turn, others want gaming to stay "underground" and be only for people like themselves that love it on the extreme level that they do. Being the business that it is, gaming uses the same marketing strategies as other forms of entertainment do: they hire models to promote their products. Sex sells and sells well. It’s simple yet effective.
But come on people, it’s time to grow up about sexuality. Other people have talked at great length about sexuality in gaming (the GameOverthinker and Extra Credits have great videos on the topic), and other sites have also talked at length about booth babes. Some sites have even gone as far as to interview the booth babes themselves in order to give some insight on what they have to deal with at cons and events. It’s clear that some gamers need to get over their uneasiness about sexuality. If you’re old enough to play Halo, Call of Duty, or Grand Theft Auto, then you shouldn’t freak out when you see a attractive woman in a revealing outfit. Stop falling into the stereotype of the geek that wouldn’t have a clue what to do with a woman if she was in your bed.
If you really want to show companies that booth babes don’t matter, then do just that, stop making them matter by ignoring them. I was at E3 last year were I saw other "professional" games journalists wait in lines to get pictures with booth babes. Did I wait in line with them? Of course not, I was actually covering the event just like I was at PAX East. Despite all the skin being shown, my focus was on the games, so it didn’t take long for the booth babes to fade into the background. That’s the way it should be for everyone. If we stop focusing on the booth babes, it will do far more to show that they aren’t of any importance than all of the angry forum posts and blogs.
On a side note, the Frag Dolls are NOT booth babes. Comparing or referring them to booth babes is a disrespectful slap in the face of women gamers: the Frag Dolls are incredibly skilled gamers that represent Ubisoft. Unlike most of the gamers checking out the booth, they have played on some of the highest levels of video game competition. Putting them on the same level as a booth babe is like saying that there is no way attractive women can’t be skilled gamers, which only serves to maintain the misogynistic attitude about gaming that too many gamers have. Grow up, already!