Gentlemen’s Relaxation Photography

By Alec Meer on November 4th, 2007 at 5:35 pm.

As we’ve been, ah, discussing The Witcher and its approach to sex here lately, it’s worth (somewhat reluctantly) mentioning that Playboy has apparently released its now annual ‘Girls of Gaming’ issue. Perhaps unsurprisingly, The Witcher features in it. After the jump is the list of pretend women set to display their pretend genitalia in it, together with a sexy picture from one of the games concerned.

A hottie from Clive Barker’s Jericho.

The women are these:

Keaira from Age of Conan: Hyborian Adventures
Church & Black from Clive Barker’s Jericho
Morenn from The Witcher
Yoko Retomoto from Kane & Lynch
A’Kanna from Conan
Sarah Morrison from Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa

Given the whole being-a-barbarian thing, Conan isn’t much of a shock. Though I don’t know how many people will really be buying Playboy to see naked CG renders of some NPCs they’ve never heard of from a game they haven’t played yet. The same’s true for Kane & Lynch really, though I am surprised a game angling to be a critical darling in the way this seems to be would stoop this low, so soon. Clive Barket’s Meh-richo is amusingly big on risible and impractical fetish gear for its female stars, and made sure to sleazily snigger at me that Black was a lesbian about half a dozen times throughout the game (and yet chose not to draw attention to the sexuality of her (presumably) straight co-stars, oddly), so frankly I’m not exactly stunned it’s involved here. The Witcher, well… If its creators feel having every major female NPC game be someone you can make the beast with two polygonal backs with without a great deal of persuasion, then commemorate it with a notch on the bedpost, is no biggie, they’re hardly going to shy at this.

Which leaves Tabula Rasa as the only real eyebrow-raiser. While early word on the MMO isn’t enormously positive, from what I’ve seen it takes itself pretty seriously, and this kind of thing doesn’t quite seem to gel with talk of Richard Garriot’s vision and suchlike. Remind yourself for a second that this is the guy who created Ultima. And now he’s creating characters who appear in Playboy. Oh, Richard. I guess all bets are off when you’re feverishly promoting your new property. If a game or game series is already successful, its publisher or developer (unless they’re a particularly porn-minded publisher or developer) will doubtless feel less need for tacky marketing moves like this, especially as it risks damanging the title’s existing cred. So I think we can be pretty sure we won’t be seeing someone like Alyx Vance or Lara Croft in such a line-up. That trashbag hoe GLaDOS, on the other hand…

Interestingly, all but one (the second Conan) of these games are available on PC, and two are PC-only. So this isn’t doing much good for its reputation as the thinking man’s gaming platform, eh?

I still don’t really know how I feel about Playboy’s naked game characters thing (which has been running for four years now, with an earlier issue including Fahrenheit / The Indigo Prophecy’s Clara, which adds fuel to arguments that it’s a distressingly sexist game). It’s a pretty grimy thing to do, and must be mortifying for anyone at the developers concerned who wants their game to achieve success based on, well, the game, and not the pretend breasts the art team came up with, but on the other hand the concept’s so ridiculous that I can’t quite take it seriously enough to be offended. Because it’s about marketing upcoming games rather than derobing much-loved characters, I guess it’s no worse than Jessica Alba appearing in lingerie in Maxim to promote Generic RomCom Of The Month. These are no less unrealistic fantasy objects, with the difference being that Pretend Videogame Girl doesn’t have to deal with the (possible) horror of imagining thousands of lonely men pleasuring themselves to her image, what with being pretend and all. That said, if I was enormously fond of any of the games on that list, I’d probably be apoplectic with outrage.

I’d be faintly interested to know what the editorial team at Playboy think about their girls of games features, though. Clearly they’ve endured every accusation of sleaze under the sun already, so that’s not going to bother them, but do they consider this clever/laughable/weird/artful/profitable, what? Given the piece is now annual, I’m banking on the latter.

Oh, and no, I’m not linking to any pictures.

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30 Comments »

  1. Leeks! says:

    Sadder still, that issue will probably sell oodles.

  2. Roman Levin says:

    The render of Sarah Morrison have been out there for a while now.

    Or so I hear.

  3. essell says:

    Tsk.

    (“Meh-richo” should’ve been “Jenericho”.)

  4. Richard says:

    IIRC, they did Sarah Morrison last year too.

  5. Max says:

    Jenericho… That’s brilliant XD

  6. Turin Turambar says:

    I don’t know what frightens me more, if the monster of the Jericho’s image or the QTE indicator in the top :D.

  7. Richard says:

    The QTE indicator. It’s the only thing on screen that makes that encounter dangerous…

  8. Chemix says:

    Most of what you see otherwise in playboy has been edited or photoshopped or airbrushed or what have you, by the time you actually see the image. People didn’t have such a problem with pin up gals, but now that pin ups have gone the way of the dinosaur (mostly), it’s suddenly not alright to think that something “not real” is sexy. Guess what, fantasies during masturbation, they aren’t real either, it’s an artificial substitute that you create that suits your needs despite your current situation. In the end, whether you like pixels, polygons, paint, or plastic, they are all simply representations of ideas that someone felt was sensual in some way.

    What’s real and what’s not doesn’t matter, it’s a picture and you either like it or you don’t.

  9. Leeks! says:

    Maybe I’ll pick it up for the articles, then.

  10. Richard says:

    “Guess what, fantasies during masturbation, they aren’t real either”

    And I doubt anyone would disagree with that. The trouble comes when the perception of female characters in games is nothing but Z-grade characters thrown in purely as masturbation fodder.

    There’s no attempt to get anything of the character behind them, any sense of attitude, any attempt make any kind of connection between the reader and the character, or to in any way make them more than just a render of a naked woman. That might not sound important, but it’s crucial – otherwise one picture would be just like another, and there’d be no such thing as a celebrity pin-up.

  11. Ace says:

    I must admit to feeling a little embarrassed and dirty at finding myself reading this article. I held out through the mention of ‘Playboy’ and ‘Girls of Gaming’ but by the time I got to ‘pretend genitalia’ I’d clicked on the link before I knew what had happened.

  12. Thelps says:

    My assumption is that if you’re reading Playboy you most likely don’t have a girlfriend. Playboy’s assumption, by my (assumed) logic, therefore, is if you don’t have a girlfriend you most likely play a lot of games and therefore are susceptible to the appeal of nude female gaming characters.

    Assumed conclusion: Playboy thinks all gamers are a) male and b) sexless geeks.

    Result of twisted logic: Playboy are short-sighted, stereotyping aesthetes.

  13. AZ says:

    Black isn’t a lesbian.

    She was secrectly in love with Jones the seer.

    lol at people falling for this in lots of reviews, it even made it into Edge.

  14. AZ says:

    Also this might be just me, what with this being a PC only site but most Japanese games create female characters with an eye on the fanart/doujin market.

    If they catch on there, it doesn’t matter how bad the actual game is, it’ll still be popular thanks to the exposure.

  15. Aimless says:

    I wonder how many of the developers had a say in their character’s foray into pornography? Now I’m not saying that all of the teams would be against the idea, more that if they were is there anything they could really do about it? It isn’t like they can physically restrain their creation from deleting her undergarments: if the publisher wants in on the advertising they can farm the image out to someone else.

    Personally I’d be quite interested in hearing the development teams’ opinions and asking whether they had a hand in the… exposure.

  16. Thiefsie says:

    I imagine these digital ladies would be less photoshopped than the usual PlayBoy fair then?

  17. malkav11 says:

    I only saw the original incarnation of this feature, but at least in that one the only character who was actually in any way nude was Bloodrayne. And, well…that didn’t really surprise me, you know?

    Every other character was in sexy outfits and pin-up poses and such, but let’s face it, that sort of thing is all over game box art and ads and such. I guess Playboy is a different context, but it’s not really different content.

  18. Cheeba says:

    If anything, featuring this kind of content in Playboy is a hell of a lot more honest than featuring barely clad nymphos on RPG boxart (as an example). And let’s be frank, the difference between tits out in playboy and ‘just enough fabric to cover the naughtier bits’ on a game box (or, ofr that matter, an ingame character) is pretty minimal.

  19. Lu-Tze says:

    GLaDOS with her covers off? You’ve got me hot under the collar now, I hear that she’s got a massive rack. Nothing like a girl with a broken heart to really draw you in.

  20. CrashT says:

    I’m not surprised about any of the games really, every advert I’ve seen for Tabula Rasa has featured Sarah Morrison in skintight leather.

    And as for Kane and Lynch this isn’t the first time it’s been “associated” with Playboy.

  21. Chis says:

    Hmm… Shodan had a face as her avatar (and a lot more when you finally reached her – that was a pleasant surprise if anything), throughout System Shock 2. GLaDOS isn’t subject to any such anthropomorphism in Portal, although I’m sure fan artists will do their best to make up for that.

  22. The_B says:

    We’re all waiting for WCC pictures. Although we may already have enough of those. Can we ever have enough of those?

  23. Zephyrtron says:

    This makes me laugh, as the last time I saw Hyborian Adventures, the devs hadn’t finished putting hair – or, unsettlingly, real features – onto the women in the game. I imagine that sort of thing is more ‘niche’ than Playboy would like…

  24. Ferrous Buller says:

    What’s curious about Tabula Rasa is they’ve clearly put effort into Sarah Morrison as a character, going so far as to have employees role-play her in-game. She’s more than just a pretty face on the box. [*cough* EQ *cough*] So to splash her `cross the pages of Playboy – the picture itself is fairly subdued by cheesecake pin-up standards – well, it does sorta reduce her to “token marketing babeage.”

  25. J says:

    What happened to this being called “How Depressing” or whatever it was before.

    Because that’s what this news is. Even if it was expected.

    Endless sidestepping.

  26. Alec Meer says:

    Nothing sinister. I remembered the phrase that now entitles the post, giggled and decided to use it, just to amuse myself.

  27. Brinstar says:

    I was a little surprised at the inclusion of Sarah Morrison. The Tabula Rasa marketing material I have seen does not portray her in an objectifying manner.

  28. Kieron Gillen says:

    When I was last at NCSoft, they’ve got that “GIRLS OF NCSOFT” sort of line up of cut-outs, and Morrison really was the odd one out in terms of “That’s a costume which is pretty nifty and not actually obvious wrist-fodder” way. So, yeah, surprised me a bit too.

    KG

  29. drunkymonkey says:

    Haha, wrist-fodder is my new favourite phrase.

  30. sinister agent says:

    I know someone who works for playboy, and I’ve finally wrested an answer from him on this subject:

    Ed says:
    you need a girlfriend

    Hope this helps!