EA’s Big Success at Comic-Con This Year? Alienating Women Gamers

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It is definitely better being a geek girl now than when I was my eldest daughter’s age. None of her peers finds it odd that she loves science fiction and comics or that she can quote from any number of books, movies, comics and television that would have once been considered male-only territory.

But while that message may have reached the younger generation, it hasn’t reached everyone, particularly marketers who still seem to think of geeks in terms of stereotypical male geeks who need help finding a date.

Like the marketers who came up with EA Games not-so-brilliant idea for a promotion at this year’s San Diego Comic Con:

EA Games and their Dante's Inferno Promotion at SDCC EA Games and their Dante's Inferno Promotion at SDCC

EA Games and their Dante's Inferno Promotion at SDCC

Check the fine print:

Any Booth BabeAny Booth Babe

"Any Booth Babe"

Commit an act of lust with a “any booth babe” and win a “chest full of booty,” apparently like the one tattooed in the full picture.

Nothing like an invitation to harass not only their hired employees but anyone who even resembles resembles a “booth babe” at SDCC. (And where I a man, I might be unhappy with the suggestion that this could be the only way I can get a date.)

There is a good collection of links here by those, well, let’s say less than thrilled with this promotion.

It’s not the first problem that women have had concerning SDCC this year. First, the LA Times came out with a Girl’s Guide to Comic Con 2009 that claimed that girls only liked to attend to squee over the boys.

There’s a great smackdown of that here.

But rather than simply complaining, I thought it might be good to also affirm that girl geeks are not only holding their own, but growing, especially on the internet.

First, there’s my favorite site, Sequential Tart. Tart was founded in 2000 by women who who met on Garth Ennis’ message board. It’s a female take on the comic industry and pop culture and the Tarts are by no means a monolithic block about anything, including what is or is not good for women in comics and other mediums. Witness the recent dissection of J.R.R. Tolkien’s impact on culture.

And another great site is girl-wonder.org. Originally inspired by the graphic torture and death of the fourth Robin, teenager Stephanie Brown–who has since been been brought back to life by her original creator, Chuck Dixon–the site contains numerous links to information about female characters and creators. One of the best among those links is girlmatic, a collection of original strips in a wide range of genres.

Great company, men and women alike, can be found on the forum of the writer of DC’s Wonder Woman, Gail Simone. You’ll All Be Sorry posters are a very diverse group of readers who seem mostly interested in being off-beat and as silly as possible. (Though I may be biased because I’m a moderator on the forum.) I would warn, though, due to language, that it would only be suitable for teenagers and above. There’s also the All DC yahoo group for great superhero discussion.

The geek girls network contains more than fifty articles ranging from iPhone apps to website development to the geek girl life.

Now, if we could only get those marketers from EA Games to look at some of these sites and open their minds. They have already issued something of an apology:

We understand there’s a lot of debate right now around our “Sin to Win” promotion at Comic-Con and wanted to clarify a few things. We created this promotion as part of our marketing efforts around the circle of Lust (one of the nine sins/circles of Hell). Each month we will be focusing on a new Circle of Hell. This month is Lust. Costumed reps are a tradition at Comic-Con. In the spirit of both the Circle of Lust and Comic-Con, we are encouraging attendees to Tweet photos of themselves with any of the costumed reps at Comic-Con here, find us on Facebook or via e-mail. “Commit acts of lust” is simply a tongue-in-cheek way to say take pictures with costumed reps. Also, a “Night of Lust” means only that the winner will receive a chaperoned VIP night on the town with the Dante’s Inferno reps, all expenses paid, as well as other prizes.

We apologize for any confusion and offense that resulted from our choice of wording, and want to assure you that we take your concerns and sentiments seriously. We’ll continue to follow your comments and please let us know if you have any other thoughts or concerns. Keep watching as the event unfolds and we hope you’ll agree that it was all done in the spirit of the good natured fun of Comic-Con.

I hope next year, they’ll pick a promotion that reflects the “good-natured fun of Comic-Con” with a little less emphasis on stereotypes.

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