Saturday, April 24, 2010

Dear Gen Con: This is not ironic. This is stupid.

Many of my friends and fellow gamers have railed on about the icon that Gen Con uses for it's non-gamer programming -- specifically called "Activities for the Better Half". I'll probably mention them at the end of this, but I wanted to get my view out on the stupidity of its icon:

What's more annoying is Gen Con's official response to Vanir's open letter to them:

Thank you all for your opinions and for calling attention to a wonderful program that Gen Con is proud to support. The process for picking the icon was not an arbitrary one; thought was put into it. It’s hard to pick one “icon” for such a diverse group of people and event types and to find one that wouldn’t be misconstrued as something else. The icon was chosen for its tongue and cheek aspect, nothing more and will remain as is for the time being.
I'd recommend that you also go and read the official letter on Vanir's website. To say that it makes one stabby would be an understatement.

I know that this isn't 10 years ago, or even 15 years ago, when having women at the gaming table was akin to a yeti sighting. I know that we see more women at these events and even young girls at these events. But to use an icon like a ball and chain is demeaning to the non-gamers who come to these events.

I won't go into the history of the ball and chain symbol, like my friend, Katie. I'm just amazed that Gen Con would call this tongue-in-cheek. Whoever thought this was a good idea has not had to sit at gaming tables and feel like they're entering a "boys club" of sorts. Or see the constant pin-up pictures. Or the shirts that make jokes about women (I won't even go into the one man's shirt that was a print of porno actresses making the "O"-face).

It's gotten better, there's no doubt, but things like this continue to give the impression that women aren't welcome.While it's nice that Gen Con has created events for the "better half" -- several of which I would consider attending as a break from dice-slinging (and are going to attend with my husband), the icon is silly.

It's not ironic. It is a blatant dig at nongamers as killjoys. I have always railed on about the stereotype of women as supposedly more "mature" and being the ones who have to rein in the "boys" from their "silly antics." Simply because someone's interests don't always mirror their partner's or family members' does not make their opinion less valid.

Overall, I agree with my friend Alan, who calls it "bad business branding." I would be careful about that Gen Con -- studies (which these Public Relations people should have learned by now) show that women are the majority of buyers in a household -- up to 83 percent in 2008, according to Lisa Witter and Lisa Chen. Do you really think that changes when they come to Indianapolis?

Just something to think about. If you're not willing to take into consideration the opinion of many women gamers like my friend, Eva, at least think about it from the business end. We women have a strong say in where the money goes, and I don't think it's a good idea to forget that.

1 comment:

K. said...