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Gentlemen's Relaxation Photography

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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