There’s an ad running right now for the video game Gauntlet: Dark Legacy. It shows four guys holding up placards of the four characters form the game. The print reads, “At last, a game you and three of your buddies can play at once.” Then in smaller print, “But one of you has to be the chick.” If this weren’t enough, one of them is telling the guy with the “chick’s” placard, “Nice rack.”
What the hell? Mrs. Mancer really enjoys playing that game and never felt she had to be the chick in it. I think I’VE played the Valyrie more than she has. She and I both were incredibly offended by this. She hasn’t touched the game since.
What is it with geek hobby ads? They are not only not inclusive of women, they have become downright EXclusive. I just don’t understand telling half of your potential market they’re not welcome.
A while back the Battletech card game had a campaign (I don’t remember the details) that again was telling women they need not apply to play. I asked a friend of mine who worked at WOTC (the company who made the game) what was up with this. His answer: “Well we did market research and it turns out not many women play the game, so we don’t have to worry about offending them.” The hell? I asked him, “If you found out not many black people played Magic (another of WOTC’s card games) would you have a card called ‘Jigaboo Spearchucker’? Would we get ‘Sheldon Kikeburg’ if you found out Jewish people didn’t play?” Of course you wouldn’t, because the offended groups would be enraged and call for action - and would probably be listened to. But of course it’s okay to tell women to go hang. (Incidentally, the original ad in question did feature a black guy as one of the “buddies” - so the ad agency at least knows how to include SOME people.)
I understand that a large part of geek companies’ audiences are 14 year old boys. But unless the ad agencies and the companies start to grow up a little, it’ll remain that way. There are many people who aren’t 14 year old boys they COULD be selling to.