#EAFail Link Roundup

#EAFail is a total clusterfuck of misogyny and pandering to the lowest common denominator. Here are a bunch of resources on it. (Last updated August 3 at 10:00 PM EST.)

IRIS Forums Thread

This post on Digg

GayGamer’s PixelPoet entered the contest with a photo of himself and a “booth bear” in order to make a point. He ended up being selected as a runner-up winner and sending an amazing letter explaining exactly why he was declining the prize, pointing out the heteronormativity and sexism of the contest and giving suggestions for what to do with the prize instead. Read it, seriously!

Acid for Blood: Convention Sexual Harassment and #EAFail — in-depth analysis by Brinstar

General Posts

Ars Technica post explaining the situation.

The Escapist also reports on the situation.

AdFreak’s post against the contest. (H/T Brinstar in comments.)

GamingAngels points out that the hub-bub over the “male only” IGN contest should have tipped them off (H/T Brinstar):

Alright, I get it. The game is about the 7 Deadly Sins, one of them being Lust. And sure, this is one of the easiest (aside from Sloth) sins to use to promote the game. But really? After the debacle with the IGN contest recently wouldn’t at least do a little thinking about the audience – not to mention the ‘booth babes’? The contest is specific in stating “any booth babe” so, this isn’t even about the girls that might be at the Dante’s Inferno area – which means every girl working a booth at the Con is fair game in their eyes.

Negative Gamer tears the contest apart (H/T Brinstar!):

In their continuingly desperate plea for people to care about their game, EA have taken to just being bigots. In a competition being held at Comic-Con you have to “commit an act of lust” with one of their booth babes, then post the picture on twitter.The winner gets a “sinfull night with two hot girls” (the quote should technically be in all caps, but I thought you may not be able to handle it).

Even Destructoid thinks the contest is sleazy (H/T @sephiros):

On the other hand, there’s something repulsive about offering people up as prizes in your PR stunt, especially given game culture’s bad habit of over-sexualizing its female characters anyway. And while our beautiful free market ideally allows booth babes to opt out of stunts like this at their discretion, let’s be realistic: living in California ain’t cheap and the rent still has to get paid. Even if there’s nothing technically wrong going on here, it’s still sleazy and, at the very least, alienating.

MetaFilter post (H/T Pearl in the comments.)

Technology News: “EA’s Big Success at Comic-Con This Year? Alienating Women Gamers” (Same article at Wired’s GeekDad.) (Same article at Coolbeans.)

More links care of Brinstar:
Post on LJ comm sf_drama.
Post by LJ user yendi
JournalFen community unfunnybusiness
Post on FF site Limit Break
OffWorld
.tiff
Jezebel: “Not only is this promotion gross and a bit sad, it also reinforces the notion that everyone at Comic Con is a horny douchebag loser who just wants to rub up against a Booth Babe for a cheap thrill.”
Kotaku: “The contest details, emblazoned on the chest of a woman in faux tattoo, also offers five runner-up prizes which includes a copy of the game, a $240 EA gift card, a limited edition shirt and ‘tons more swag.’ No word if that swag includes brass knuckles.”
LJ comm girl_gamers: “EA must not think highly of male gamers… and they don’t seem to think anything at all of female gamers.”
Technologizer: “If only the gaming blogs covering the story could see the forest from the trees. Destructoid, for example, cries foul despite having no problem celebrating booth babes during E3.”
Newsarama: “What NOT to do at SDCC”
Kotaku post about @danteteam’s failpology.
Broken Toys. And here’s a follow up:

And I apologize for any confusion in how I worded my belief that your marketing team was devoid of common sense, views its female employees as sexual objects, and reflects poorly on our entire industry in its juvenile pursuit of attention.

Kill Ten Rats: “EA, when I talked about game developers and porn stars, I was not implying that you should treat your employees like underpaid prostitutes.” Here is the follow up.
Jeremy Preacher:

I’ve worked Comic-Con. and while there are lots of perfectly normal, well-adjusted people there, there are also a LOT of people with boundary issues, an imperfect understanding of social norms, and/or a really fucking twisted view of women. It’s hard enough to maintain one’s personal space – having fucking Marketing supporting the random gropage as a CONTEST does NOT HELP.

Edmonton Journal‘s Button Mash: ”
EA Games pimp out booth babes at Comic-Con, the Internet explodes”
Geeks Are Sexy
Social Media Today post describing what went wrong WRT using Twitter as a contest platform. (Same post on Social Media Guidelines.)
Pope Hat post on the legal issues involved: “‘Acts of Lust’ At Comic Con: Electronic Arts Wants To Make Some Lawyers Very Happy”:

Employers have an obligation to take reasonable steps to protect employees from sexual harassment by customers and other third parties. They also have an obligation to refrain from encouraging and ratifying such harassment. This is a briskly developing area of law. And while EA might plausibly argue (as have employers like Hooters, for instance) that being ogled is part and parcel of the Booth Babe job, they’re going to have a tough time explaining how Booth Babes signed up to be exposed to ill-defined “acts of lust.”

Tradeskill Perspective talks about organizations such as Women in Games and Gamers in Real Life (GIRL) that try to raise awareness about issues relating to women in games and the industry.
Set on Stun: “Misogyny Marketing: EA Pimps Booth Babes for Dante’s Inferno Game”
VG247
Get Your Blogs Out
DigitalFemme: “The next person to tell me that the only thing a company is looking for in a consumer’s pants is a wallet or that the only color a company sees is green is going to get told off. For days. Because time and time again this has been proven to be untrue.”
Spinksville
dwell on it: “Booth-babes though, as a marketing gimmick, are just insulting. I’ve got nothing at all against the women who do the work. It’s a job like any other – and not an easy job by any means – and people are paying for it. But really, the whole notion that they have to be there is an insult to gamers, and to game journos – whether or not that insult is actually warranted.”
Kellie Parker succinctly explains the sexism and heteronormativity of the contest.
Blippitt: “#EAFail: Video Game Marketing Gone Bad”
Shack News

Carnal Nation: “#EAFail – Is EA Games Deliberately Being Crass For The Publicity?”

At Mother Jones, Stephanie Volkoff Green investigates which other circles of hell EA manages to fall into with this contest.

Geek Syndicate‘s post. (H/T jeffy in comments.)

Yahoo! Games’s PluggedIn: “EA blasted over questionable marketing stunt”; this post made Yahoo’s top 4 news articles. (H/T @BigDumbHippy)

Joystiq: “Photos of the booth girls and their potential “dates” can be found on the Dante’s Inferno Facebook page. Our faith in humanity can be found in the corner, curled up and mumbling something to itself.” And the follow up: “We can’t imagine Beelzebub begs pardon from those he makes swim through a sea of fire and brimstone for all eternity. ‘Oh, man. That looks like it hurts. I’m like, really sorry about this, guys. Do you want some aloe?'”

Penny Arcade weighs in:

Now, Electronic Arts seems determined to wrest the title of “most egregious promotional bullshit” from the Acclaim of old, with some crazy Comic Con antics that involve committing “acts of lust” on “booth babes.” They apologized, ostensibly, but it’s a mealymouthed, worthless thing – a recitation of what they’ve done, capped with the assertion that they’re sorry you’re offended, but not sorry for offending you, as though your reaction were some bizarre, extra-dimensional phenomenon independent of their own actions.

Kieron Gillen at Rock, Paper, Shotgun decries the contest, describing a couple stories of con-goers harassing his friends at SDCC:

On the first day, a Photographer friend of ours wandered over, sighing that she’d already had her arse pinched four times.

This is what comicon is like without a multinational corporation deciding to turn it into a sport.

Feminist Responses

A comment on Ars Technica by an actual “booth babe” with firsthand experience of con harassment (H/T Brinstar). Here is an excerpt, but be sure to read the whole thing:

Lastly, you guys think that people offended by this are over-reacting because SANE people at a con would never do something criminal? Spoken like someone who’s not female and dressed up at a con. Last week I had some moron ACTUALLY STALK one of my new girls. Kept coming back to the booth even after she told him she wouldn’t hang out. He kept getting more insistent that she hang out with him and give him her phone number. Kept telling her he’d come back when she asked him not to. Tried to FOLLOW HER. Yah, that’s obviously not dangerous AT ALL. I’ve had my own issues over the years, including stalkers, men trying to take invasive photos, or grabbing things they shouldn’t. I have at least a couple of guys a con who cross the line. Please don’t downplay the seriousness of a situation that you know NOTHING ABOUT.

Here is the Kotaku post about iola’s comment. It’s good that it’s getting so much attention.

Shakesville post about it. From a comment by trifling:

One particular horror of this is that entrants to the competition are encouraged to “(take) photos with the models working the Dante’s Inferno booth or any other booth babes at the show.” Forgive my potential lack of understanding of the operation of the event, but I am pretty sure that the tone of this competition is encouraging more than the average “stand next to her and smile” photo, and they are encouraging this interaction with people who do not work for them or have any association at all with this competition.

A Midwife in Training post about how she mostly buys EA games but will now be boycotting them:

I’m loving the fact that EA seems to think that my gender isn’t interested in their video games or winning contests for free swag. Or that I wouldn’t be offended that they’ve declared open season on the “booth babes”, essentially reinforcing the misguided idea that harassing or “lusting” after a woman, and then snapping a picture of it for proof, is a great way to get her to spend some time with you.

Response from PixiePalace:

EA is not only condoning behavior that dehumanizes women, but they are encouraging and rewarding it. This is socially irresponsible and morally repugnant. I don’t bring up morals a whole lot because I think it’s kind of a dicey subject, but this one kind of pushes me over the edge. We live in a rape culture and this kind of a contest reinforces that. I know that these models likely went into this job knowing about this contest, but I also know that some of the women to take booth babe jobs really need the jobs, regardless of how degrading they are (it’s better than stripping or worse, right?) and that women are told that being objectified is good for them (when we know, scientifically, that it’s not). Saying that it’s ok because they went into it with their eyes open doesn’t make it better.

The F-Word: “EA games invites convention attendees to sexually harass ‘booth babes'”

Feminist Law Professors: “EA has a new way to annoy its own models: give out prizes for Comic Con attendees who commit acts of lust with their booth babes. Also, if you win, you get to take the lady out to dinner! This is going to end well for everyone involved.”

Girl vs. Robot: (H/T Kat in the comments.) This is a great post that outlines the sexism faced by girls and women in nerd-dom:

The problem is that gamer girls are nerds too. They feel the same pressure to conform to mainstream society that male nerds do. However, when they reject it and flee to the communities of nerds online, they often are faced with a second pressure to behave in a certain way, whether that be the hyper anime girl ideal or the “one of the guys” anti-girl. Girl gamers are just looking for a place to be themselves.

YES, YES, YES. That is it exactly. (Also the third paragraph is an excellent example of satirizing sexism. The sarcasm is quite clear and the statement truly ridiculous.)

Feministing Community: “EA Fail: How to Alienate Female Gamers”

Geek Girls Rule!:

As I’ve said many, many times before… I am not against being pretty or sexy, or whatever. I am not against finding people hot. I AM against setting up your employees for sexual harassment, and probably some sexual assault as well. People, male or female, have a tendency to behave badly when feeling anonymous in a crowd. Add that to this society’s view of women’s bodies as objects and public property, then give them permission to engage in one level of bad behavior… The stupid starts to stack up pretty quickly.

Other Resources

Brinstar’s screencap of @danteteam’s now-removed response (now re-posted?) to the Twitter outrage.

TweetGrid search for #EAFail, this can be used to keep up with the latest developments on Twitter. Responses should also be under the hashtag #lust and as replies to @danteteam.

Via Brinstar, two posts on harassment, containing specific stories of incidents of harassment. This stuff HAPPENS, and it happens A LOT:
Bully Says: Comics Oughta Be Fun!
Cerise article on con harassment and Girl-Wonder’s Con Anti-Harassment Project.
More on harassment at last year’s SDCC

In addition, this stunt has serious shades of the “Open Source Boob Project” debacle from last year. More analysis here.

If you have any more posts or resources, drop them in the comments.

A summarized list of the grievances against this “contest”, in no particular order:
— Assumes women and gay men aren’t interested in the game/don’t play games at all.
— Caters to the lowest common denominator of male game/comic fan: the drooling fanboy who can only get a date with a woman if he wins a fucking contest.
— Disembodied female chest and other sexist imagery used in the ad.
— Language that encourages sexual harassment of not only EA’s “booth babes” but every model at Comic-Con. (“commit an act of lust”)
— Women being offered as prizes.
— Prize worded in a way to imply the winner will get to have sex with the models; there is a word for this, and it’s prostitution.
— Women referred to as “girls”.
— All-around sleaziness and grossness, and an attitude that completely ignores and erases the RAMPANT harassment women, especially booth babes, have to put up with at gaming/comic/etc. conventions.

This contest ENCOURAGES the behavior that makes cons UNSAFE FOR WOMEN. PERIOD.

34 thoughts on “#EAFail Link Roundup

  1. I saw this on Twitter and thought I’d post it here:
    There’s a Comic-Con Talkback at 3 pm on Sunday in Room 5AB. Let’s tell Comic-Con that we want an official sexual harassment policy.

    I’m in Texas so I clearly can’t be there but I hope that there are lots of people there complaining.

  2. More links!

    Check out iola’s comments on the Ars Technica forums: http://episteme.arstechnica.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/174096756/m/633007660041?r=728005760041#728005760041 Same comment is also located on page three of the Ars Technica article you linked above.

    Mashable posted about it, so it’s getting more mainstream attention: http://mashable.com/2009/07/25/danteteam-contest/

    Gaming Angels: http://www.gamingangels.com/2009/07/sexism-and-the-eadantes-inferno-sin-to-win-contest/

    Negative gamer: http://negativegamer.com/2009/07/25/molest-a-booth-babe-win-a-night-of-lust-stay-classy-ea/

    Destructoid, surprisingly, came down against the contest, but I don’t have the link handy.

  3. Another thing to consider about this is that there was JUST a conversation going on on the IGDA Women in Games SIG mailing list about sexual harassment at work, and several women brought up that they just have to deal with harassment because if they file a complaint they can get fired. Women are putting up with sexual harassment in the game industry because they have no recourse without RISKING THEIR JOBS. This is what they call “good-natured fun”?

  4. I sent the #EAFail stuff to my dad, a retired lawyer. Here are his thoughts:
    “The women should sue EA and the people organizing the convention. EA are rewarding harassment and that should be enough to make them liable. The organizers aren’t doing anything to prevent it when they are well aware of what is going on. They should be liable too. Not having a harassment policy is just evidence to support their liability.

    “What they’re doing is just ridiculous. It rewards what they know is bad behavior. Women shouldn’t have to put up with that.”

    • Anybody know if the San Diego Better or Bay area Business Bureau cares about this kinda stuff? Nobody has the money to actually sue them, but if the local BBB cares about sex/gender equality, then a number of carefully-worded letters will at least get them or their PR firm in the position of having to do something material to get back in good standing w/ the BBB. That is, if those local chapters aren’t corrupt or conservative.

      • Bleh, edit: “Anybody know if the San Diego *or Bay area *Better Business Bureau”

      • I would be surprised if the Bay area Better Business Bureau *didn’t* care about this stuff. I have no idea about San Diego, though.

      • That’s what I was thinking, but then I went through the electronic complaint stuff a bit and found out that I was mistaken about BBB’s ability to handle discrimination complaints. So I looked a bit more, and I think the best place to file a formal complaint would be the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Although it doesn’t look like much would be done legally unless one of the women working at the Con filed the complaint themselves (and who knows what paperwork they signed before they did so), it couldn’t hurt to try–it at least looks like such an effort could result in “mediation.”

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Department_of_Fair_Employment_and_Housing

      • You don’t need money for a class action lawsuit that sits on solid ground. The lawyers are usually the only ones that walk away with anything anyways.

  5. I bring my daughter to E3 every year, she’ll be 4 this year and now some 12channers will try to get their pic taken with her because of EA. Now, that won’t happen ’cause I’ll be there, but still.

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  8. A gal who claims to be one of the EA “booth babes” was under 21 and it was her first time doing such a job (http://twitter.com/gillianparis). This is classic recruitment. When I first started, I had a boss who would hire girls as young as 16, who’d done nothing like this before. They’re more likely to do what you say and not leave because they’re naive and don’t want to get in trouble. They’re also a lot cheaper–my first boss paid them all in swag alone.

    He’d also encourage them to lead men on and get angry when they wouldn’t. EX: “Why did you tell him you were dating someone? Tell him you’re available and ‘what time you get on break’ depends on how much you sell!” I tried to do as much protection and damage control as I could behind his back, but I didn’t stay…

    Anyway, at least she said she felt “safe” but I imagine #1 the contest doesn’t seem to be generating entries and #2 she had a bit of security. Most women at SDCC are not so lucky.

    • She’s since made her Twitter private, but her posts are, of course, still out there. This is how the conversation between she and I transpired:

      She first sent out a general tweet:

      gillianparis: i was one of the ea booth babes for dantes inferno and was never once harrassed or felt uncomfortable #lust

      Then I was like:

      brinstar: @gillianparis That’s great, but a lot of women get harassed at cons: http://tinyurl.com/5sxuda You were safe; doesn’t mean others will be.

      Then she said:

      gillianparis: @brinstar im aware of that. but a lot of people are just targeting EA because of their contest.

      I didn’t reply to her after her last response because, well, honestly it was kind of a silly comment. Of course people are targeting EA because of this contest. That was the whole reason for the outrage. But the contest also falls within the larger scope of convention sexual harassment, which so many people are missing. Yes, this #EAFail issue is bad, but it’s just one part of the greater culture of sexism and problem behaviours at conventions.

      • Well, since she’s made that private (I’m hoping no one was attacking her) I’ll say I went far enough back to see the point she first tweeted about being one of the models. She only made a handful of tweets and they stated that it was the first time she’d done something like this and was nervous. She had to sign a contract which outlined things, including that she could not drink while on the “date.” After she’d done her “booth babe” duties, she was informed that she could not be one of the girls on the “date” because she was not over 21 (which, correct me if I’m wrong…shouldn’t that have been covered at the contract signing stage??).

        She does appear to be at least 18 though, since she was the “babe” with extensive tattoos.

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  12. Considering the Fake Protectors they hired for Dante’s Inferno, this doesn’t surprise me. Sexist & Anti-Religious. But ofcoarse, being the internet, only the sexist stuff gets a lot of attention. Both are deeply offensive.

    • I think the key difference is that while the fake protest was stupid and offensive, this contest actually puts real women in real danger. It’s not just sexist and misogynist, it’s encouraging sexual harassment and possibly assault. Not to mention its dubious legality.

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  16. Ohwow – a simply fab amount of research on a subject which definitely needs to be brought to light!

    So glad I found your articles through GC~ Please keep up the excellent work!

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