This week our short episode takes on the game industry and its marketing tactics. Specifically, Rhonda and I discuss the E3 trailers for these two games: Tomb Raider Crossroads and Far Cry 3.
As many of you who have followed the site and my research already know, I am generally very celebratory about game culture. I think that gaming is a wonderful way people can learn about themselves, how to solve problems, and explore their identity. However, I often take issue with how games are marketed. This year’s E3 pressers leave me cold looking at how female characters are displayed and the uneven reactions these images produce in game news.
Rhonda and I discuss the controversies these two video clips generated, specifically the issue many male game journalists took with the attempted rape of Lara Croft. I guess it hasn’t been easy for many fans of Lara Croft to see her origin story begin gritty, violent, and dangerous. Oh and less boobtastic. She looks and acts like a fully developed character in this trailer, something that I cannot help but applaud. I am left wondering if the male reaction to this character development has something to do with the guilt they might experience now that they cannot openly and freely sexualize her character without some sensation of guilt.
The trend of game design towards more cinematic, complex, and deep stroy telling is exciting and wonderful. I sincerely wish the marketing executives would avoid such blatant stunts as the one seen in the Far Cry 3 trailer. It is apparent that the opening scene, which few have called pornography (a term used to describe the Tomb Raider video), was purely for shock value. Unfortunately, attention getting stunts like these only diminish what might be a beatiful, intriguing, and engaging game. I’ll never know because after this trailer, I’ll likely never pick up a copy of the game.
One of the themes that emerged from my dissertation research is that gamers consider themselves to be very savvy, intelligent consumers mainly because they choose to game over say a more passive media like watching tv shows or other, less engaging hobbies. I hope that at some point in the not too distant future the marketing mavricks at the major game companies will figure this out.
As always, and perhaps even more so with the controversial nature of this topic, we would love to hear what you think. Drop us a Tweet @game_on_girl or leave a comment here.
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Until next time, Game On!
Regina and Rhonda
Regina is a gamer, writer, teacher, and podcaster living in the Pacific Northwest. She completed her Ph.D. in 2011 from Washington State University in Vancouver and continues to teach there part time. Regina’s research interests focus on women and technology, and her dissertation discusses female gamers and identity in digital role playing games. A lifelong geek and technology enthusiast, Regina recently started a Girls Who Code club in support of their mission to close the gender gap in technology.
To continue the conversations about gender and gaming that Regina started during her research, she started a podcast called Game on Girl. Called the “NPR of game podcasts” by Chris Brown of The Married Gamers, the podcast features women involved in the game industry, and tackles some of the complicated issues in the gaming community. Season 2 began in the spring of 2018 and will premiere new episodes monthly.