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Gamers are growing up, and as a result, so is gaming. Sitting on the top of a mountain after what was almost a ferocious rise, our once marginalized hobby has hit the mainstream. But at what cost? Have we allowed the rest of societies’ ills to flood in and kill the simple pleasure of playing a game, mirroring the same corruption of music and film?

I wrote earlier this week about bloggers and main gaming sites taking shortcuts, churning out simple content to pull hits and fill chunks of dead air on slow news days. Following on from that, my sights are set on Olivia Munn, presenter and “journalist” of G4′s “Attack of the Show” and the furphy around her appearance in, and subsequently also on the cover of, Playboy.

I read an article recently that; besides being little more then a directly targeted, terribly written, bigoted, hate spewing manifesto; made a loose reference to the rise of the “fake woman gamer”. This being someone who uses their gender, rather then their intelligence, knowledge, or skill, to use and abuse the affection shown to the geek girl by the more desperate of our gaming brethren.

Now, while I don’t agree with the large majority of the author’s comments, especially since I know quite a few very talented female journalists who do it for the same reasons I do, there are real examples of this particular ‘gamersploitaton’ in action. Case in point – Olivia Munn.

Not only had she, prior to becoming a host on G4, admitted she knew practically nothing about videogames, its almost plainly obvious her constant appearances in Playboy plus her exposure on G4 are simply there to push her career from modeling to B- grade acting.

This kind of crap is one of the biggest reasons female journalists are constantly the target of angry male gamers. Generalization is a nasty thing, and regardless of how successful and talented female gamers become, the Olivia Munns of the world will be quick to stomp on their work by showing a bit of TNA and condemning gaming to the same arena as Nascar.

Many of you will probably be quick to jump up and claim that G4 isn’t a great television representation of the game world. I’d be inclined to agree. In most cases, most video game blogs will follow the story because it generates those tasty ad revenue hits and fills those precious news spots at 7pm. Main gaming sites probably will too, for the same reasons.

In the case of G4, the issue is that it’s one of the few windows that many non-gamers will see. If we’re trying to push gaming to a point where it’s taken as seriously as film or music, creaming our pants every time a “girl gamer” gets into a bikini isn’t really the best way to head there. As someone on posting a comment on Destructoid eloquently put it, its a classic case of “Tits for Hits”.

In the end, why don’t we give real girl gamers, journalists and developers the benefit of the doubt and stop supporting those who are out simply to get their piece of the pie. Gaming is one of those fantastic mediums where gender is irrelevant, where the aim is developing the best games possible with the media taking an important place alongside to critique and push developers to create better and more refined experiences.

We need to grow up and start recognizing the work, rather then the “quirk” of the female gamer. It’s not rare anymore to see a woman playing on Live, writing an article for Gamespot (or Gamer Limit for that matter) or creating the games we play in the first place.

G4 could actually grow a pair and hire someone who actually knows and is passionate about gaming. Australia’s very own Good Game did just that, which just also happens to be one of the most popular shows on its channel.

But hey, sex sells doesn’t it? Can’t beat natural instinct. I wonder if the Frag Dolls are available for a Gamer Limit photo shoot…

  1. Excellent article – I think you hit it on the head.

    It’s interesting, because a lot of gamers feed into this issue by supporting “Tits for hits” campaigns, and by salivating over every girl that speaks through their headset, or joins their guild in WoW.

  2. A lot of people would find this article as “flawed”, because all they want to see (like you stated in your article) is her, naked (and surprise! Those people love to objectify women, then call others “gay” when they don’t share the same exact viewpoint).

    Hit’s/Popularity, man: it’s all that matters these days (/sarcasm).

  3. Great piece, James! It’s frustrating that we have people like Olivia Munn (and don’t even get me started on UbiSoft) in games journalism to set us back a few steps, making it harder for female games journalists and female gamers in general to be taken seriously. It’s kind of sad that some girls decline to turn their mics on XBL or team speak because of the reactions they’ll get when it becomes apparent that they are, in reality, a female.

    I don’t want to receive special treatment in the game community because I’m female or for my ability to lick a game controller in front of a webcam (what is with that anyways?), I want respect because of solid writing and mad gaming skillz. I don’t want my journalistic merits to be wasted on the fact that people are reading my articles just because I’m “hott”, and people like the Frag Dolls and Olivia Munn make this difficult when they contribute to the “girl gamer” stereotype that sadly sells so well.

  4. I actually kind of like Olivia Munn, and I try to watch Attack of the Show a few times a week. I’d say Kevin Pereira and Munn make a good tandem for the show. Not to mention, it’s more of a tech / web comedy show whereas X-Play is more video game based.

    On the other hand, I see where you’re coming from, and the kind of perceptions the industry is receiving because of this.

  5. avatar Trace

    It takes two to tango, and as much as it annoys me to see women using their sexuality to advance in the games industry, you can’t deny that it’s the gaming community that’s letting them get away with it.

    I used to get quite angry at the Frag Dolls because I felt that they were a distraction and brought attention to female gamers for the wrong reasons, but now I don’t think it’s their fault at all. Those girls were hired to market Ubisoft products, and Ubisoft put together an all-girl team to attract attention, and they got that attention because gamers responded to their marketing campaign.

    You’re right – we all just need to grow up.

  6. avatar Anonymous

    “In the end, why don’t we give real girl gamers, journalists and developers the benefit of the doubt and stop supporting those who are out simply to get their piece of the pie. Gaming is one of those fantastic mediums where gender is irrelevant”
    “But hey, sex sells doesn’t it? Can’t beat natural instinct.”
    LOL, how fucking ironic.
    And it isn’t a medium retard. That is a common misconception. They are simulation.

  7. avatar Matthew Zimmerman

    “I read an article recently that; besides being little more then [sic] a directly targeted, terribly written, bigoted, hate spewing [sic] manifesto; made a loose reference to the rise of the ‘fake woman gamer’.”

    PROTIP: When accusing someone of writing terribly, it helps when you have no grammatical errors in the same sentence in which you are accusing them, or in the entire article, for that matter. The door swings both ways.

    “Generalization is a nasty thing [...]”

    Yes, that’s right! You can’t exactly point out WHY it was terribly written, as it would bring attention to your own scribbles, which, I have to say, aren’t exactly above par either (actually, they’re above game mag par, but not, say, Danielle Steele par). In fact, HIS article was much better written than yours, even with all the misogyny and bigotry, which really only made it more entertaining for me.

    Here is where I’ll point out some of the stupid crap in your article, so as not to be tarred by the same crap-covered brush as you, as I like the color red better. I hope you’ll be a little more introspective and at least provide examples in the future when you accuse another of “terrible writing.” Anonymous — bless him — already took care of the first two lapses in intellect.

    “Gamers are growing up, and as a result, so is gaming.”

    Because when videogames came out in ’63, everyone who played them were children, right? Wrong. If we go by a twenty-year span, there are two generations of gamers. If we go by every console generation, we have many more. Anyway, what the hell are you talking about? How can gaming ‘grow up’? What is a gamer? Someone who plays games? Then, everyone is a gamer.

    “Sitting on the top of a mountain after what was almost a ferocious rise [...]”

    I don’t think any of this occurred, and it doesn’t make sense. Did we prevail over something? I really hate this metaphor. It’s… terrible!

    “[...] our once marginalized hobby has hit the mainstream.”

    Who exactly makes up this “mainstream”? And how is videogaming vindicated or whatever if it gets this stream’s notice? I bet you got a stiffy when Adam Sandler played “Shadows of the Colossus” [sic] in “Reign Over Me”. Also, gaming is marginalized for a good reason: just read everything you’ve ever written about it.

    “Have we allowed the rest of societies’ ills to flood in and kill the simple pleasure of playing a game, mirroring the same corruption of music and film?”

    It’s not corruption. It’s just people being people. They’re the root of all evil — they even made up the word. Gasp.

    “Now, while I don’t agree with the large majority of the author’s comments, especially since I know quite a few very talented female journalists who do it for the same reasons I do [...]”

    Which are? Why don’t you agree?

    Besides, you wouldn’t be saying this if you had read the whole article and completely understood everything he said, and his position. All you probably saw was some crap about female “game journalists” being dumb sluts and started having some kind of self-righteous seizure and thought him sexist.

  8. avatar M. Zimmerman

    “Because when videogames came out in ‘63 [...]”

    Excuse me; it was ’62.

  9. avatar Grasi

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