My No. 1 worst moment for women and gaming in 2011

22 Mar

Here it is, My No. 1 worst moment for women and gaming, why?

Well, let’s set the stage – take one top athlete (Serena Williams) and erase any notion of her achievements, give her the title of “world’s sexiest”, thrust her in some black nylons and make her derriere  literally a character on screen. Then, take a top gamer (Rileah Vanderbilt) and erase any notion of her achievements, give her the title of “world’s sexiest”, thrust her in some black nylons and make her derriere and chest literally characters on screen. Oh yeah, also: add a lot of grunting, some shooting flame-balls, and some droplets of sweat. There is a tiny shining light that shows five clips of the game-version Serena Willliams on-screen, fully clothed, and hitting powerful winners. Though those two seconds worth of clips are just a back-drop to the “real action” which is the sexualization and marginalization of women that play games well.

Joystiq has talked to game developer 2K sports who gave this official statement,

“As part of the process for creating marketing campaigns to support our titles, we pursue a variety of creative avenues. This video is not part of the title’s final marketing campaign and its distribution was unauthorized.”

The ad was released by the gamer/actress who took charge of making it viral when the company chose not to release it, or so the marketing team says. (Personally I find the statement rather jeering; *how* much money do we think they spent on getting a high profile sports person into that outfit, shoot the entire video, edit it, and then not decide to use it (I’m sure they develop some game concepts in this manner too?)  And the use of a  gaming personality who has “viral sway” right now as the culprit who leaked it? Come on –  Rileah Vanderbilt is a part of “Team Unicorn”, the gamer group whose youtube video “G33K – G4m3r Girls” is rolling out as a pop flavoured cultural meme. And in any case the concept exists, the material exists, and the framework of top women game players as sex-objects not worthy of being show-cased on achievements and skill alone exists.  Making it an even more treacherous is this positioning of one of the very few visible female African American athletes on the International scene. It’s a detestable marketing tool at work.

2K sports official and  “tennis relevant” trailer is something a little less flashy. And really, one doesn’t even bother with the silliness of asking where Rafa’s sexy video is, because we all know that selling Rafa out isn’t cool. Hey – it’s not cool for anyone.

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