Gamestation defends "sexist" advertising

"Gamestation has always been slightly edgy and occasionally controversial"

GAME's UK head of PR has said that a Gamestation marketing campaign described as "openly sexist" by a female employee is part of the store's "edgy and occasionally controversial" image.

The staff member, who wishes to remain anonymous for fear of recrimination, contacted to say she was upset about a recent campaign selling pre-owned games at prices "cheaper than your girlfriend".

"I agree Gamestation should target a more core audience than GAME, but I just don't see what this slogan has to add to their campaign or to gaming in general," said the employee.

Any discrimination is banned by GAME's own employee regulations, so I don't see why the company itself should be able to get away with it

"It is pretty openly sexist - girls being cheap, obviously, but it's also pandering to the old stereotype that gamers are guys. And of course any discrimination is banned by GAME's own employee regulations, so I don't see why the company itself should be able to get away with it." asked GAME's UK head of PR Neil Ashurst whether he felt the advert alienated female customers.

"We welcome everyone into our stores and the Gamestation brand reflects its customer base which is still predominantly the traditional core male gamer," he explained.

"Our marketing and in-store POS does, and will continue to, appeal to that audience. Throughout its existence, Gamestation has always been slightly edgy and occasionally controversial. Our customers love this about us.

"Whether they agree with everything we do is a different matter. We embrace people's right to disagree and you will see this in our stores every week as our customers and staff discuss, usually passionately, the finer points of the latest games."


When we put this to the Gamestation staffer, she said it was to be expected.

"I did think they would try and excuse it with the edgy aim of their marketing," she told us. "I think it's a bit of a cop-out though.

"I appreciate Gamestation's style - but I don't appreciate them making me feel I'm not who they think should be buying their products."

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Latest comments (74)

Matthew Eakins Technical Lead, HB-Studios9 years ago
It's not sexist, they could be targeting lesbians too ;)
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James Gallagher Marketing Manager, Futuremark Corporation9 years ago
The traditional core male gamer has a girlfriend now?

There's nothing edgy in using tired stereotypes like in the example pictured, or in my question above. It's bad, lazy advertising that deserves the criticism.
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Nicolas D'Offay Programmer, Lightning Fish Games9 years ago
I think it's good, witty advertising. People who are offended by this need to relax and learn how to have a laugh.
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Show all comments (74)
Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game9 years ago
Gamestation isn't particularly cheap from what I've seen. They were before Game bought them, but now they seem to have Game's policy of selling second hand recent titles for £3 less than a new copy. Sexist or not, they should be in trouble for false advertising.
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Luca Mogini Public Relations and Social Media Consultant, Youmble9 years ago
come on, is the old golden rule of advertising: "wheter to criticize or to praise, the most important thing is that people talks about your ad". As for the case, I really think we are used to much worst publicity campaigns, so what's all the fuss about? People will continue to bring games in and I think that the one offended by the ad are just the usual few. That said, I openly admit it made me smile, even because apart from the supposedly sexist message, the real communication behind it is to convey a sense of masculine friendship using one of the classic arguments of an insult exchange between friends, which often happens in whatever multiplayer match played by two or more 15-to-25 male players; so, we have an ad which is fully in target, "edgy" yet with a friendly undertone and that refers exactly to the target audience of the shop. Well played
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John McGrath Student - Computer Games Development BSc 9 years ago
Is this girl arguing the point that discounted games are cheaper than girls? LMAO!
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Stephen McCarthy Studying Games Technology, Kingston University9 years ago
i think the joke here is that girlfriends cost a lot of cash....
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Adam Russell Social Games Designer, Soshi Games9 years ago
Has no one else noticed that this employee has missed the point entirely?

"It is pretty openly sexist - girls being cheap, obviously"

It's saying that girlfriends are expensive and a copy of CoD:Blops is cheaper than a romantic meal, jewellery etc.
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Mihai Cozma Indie Games Developer 9 years ago
It's always the same thing: women can make jokes about men, but men cannot make jokes about women (I think I can make a very very long list of things that are allowed for women but not for men, and still we - men - discriminate them, not the other way ).

I think I can also name some other pairs where you can be accused of racial or religious discrimination one way, but the other way they are just funny jokes. I agree there are real cases are discrimination, but I also think joking should be allowed no matter the content and people should be more open to such things, it's for fun after all.

All in all, jokes like these are fun, even on adds, and the point of the add is indeed that it is more expensive to have a girlfriend than to buy a game.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Mihai Cozma on 24th March 2011 2:54pm

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I think some 'jokes' may hurt girls more than hurt guys. Obviously the employee misunderstood the message, however that doesn't make the ad itself less sexist. Or less stupid.

Mihai, I am trully sorry for all the harsh prejudice and discrimination you had to suffer in the games world as a male. Must have had a real hard life.
The amount of female lurking around in our industry trying to make you feel miserable and less worthy must be real high.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Barbara Karolina Bernad on 24th March 2011 3:01pm

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yeah, I suspect given her interpretation of that comment, she's obviously not the exactly endowed with a keen intellect, if the advert had been implying girls are cheap, then it would have been alienating to female customers and not suitable... as however the opposite is implied, I see no harm in it to anyone but the rather self-involved kill joy's of little consequence which the world is never in danger of a short supply of, though the case is the perfect example for the maxim, tis better to keep your mouth closed and let other people think your stupid rather then open your mouth and prove it, as anyone with a brain reading said announcement will clearly deduce about her.
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Dave Stansfield Reviewer/Comedian 9 years ago
Hell, it made me smile.
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Mihai Cozma Indie Games Developer 9 years ago
@Barbara - I don't work in games industry (just as a hobby at home as a developer and gamer) so I have no idea how it is to be a woman working there, if you say it is tough then it must be. On the other hand in the software company I work for, my boss is a woman and she is a very good programmer (single woman of all the employees, we are 14 here), she doesn't mind about women related jokes and she also makes jokes about women and men alike, and I respect that more than someone jumping to sue me for discrimination for an innocent joke.

On the other side as a gamer, I've met real life female players behind avatars in a lot of games (especially MMOs) and they are just like any other male player, no difference there, some very good and some not so good at playing the game.

I don't want to be misunderstood, I respect women (hell, I'm married to one :) ) but I don't think attributes like sexist, racist and other of this kind should be thrown for just about anything someone says, especially if it is a joke.

Fortunately I live in a country where people like to joke about each other a lot and few mind about it, no matter the nature of the joke, but I have heard that in other country these kind of things are treated very seriously, and I kind of feel sorry for the lack of fun people could be having out of this.

Just my 2c, cheers!
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Barry De La Rosa Senior Staff Writer, Dennis Publishing9 years ago
Way to go, games industry people. Just keep on reinforcing those stereotypes, why don't you?

Hint: treating women as commodities that have a price on them is misogynist, whichever way you want to spin it.

But hey, we're all gamers here, right? So we can have a good laugh at those stupid girls getting upset. They just don't get the joke.
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Dan Pearson Operations Manager, Purewal Consulting9 years ago
I have to say, I'm agreeing with Barry on this one - it's an old fashioned and anachronistic ad - and it's not an isolated case. It's perhaps not straight out offensive, but it certainly reflects a fairly narrow minded attitude.

So much game advertising objectifies and excludes women, I don't see that much is to be learned from chuckling behind our hands at it.

Completely besides that, it's fairly obviously quite alienating to female customers in its male-orientated nature - surely a fairly short-sighted business decision?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Dan Pearson on 24th March 2011 3:57pm

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Tony Johns9 years ago
I just hope that our own games industry is not going to be chastized by political correctness.

Because political correctness just plain sucks...

People need to know how to laugh off an add, and if you don't find it funny then just don't bother with the add.
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Till Dzierzon Localization QA 9 years ago
The worst kind of sexism is when people are treating women as "special".
And no, I don't support the "equal rights mean equal hits" attitude.
It is a joke. If you can't take it as such, think about your image of women.

The only reason to be offended by this is if you believe women are too weak to cope with a lousy joke like this. That is sexism.
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Abraham Tatester Producer 9 years ago
@Barry: Exactly. I'm surprised to see so many folks take such pride in their lack of sensitivity. All in the name of fun, eh?

It's not a matter of the employee "not getting the joke." If a female gamer working for the company is offended, that means many, many other women would be offended as well. Women who may or may not be their customers.

I also agree with Barrie: Where do they get off calling my GF cheap!?!

Really, the only thing funny about this is how lazy and ignorant Gamestation's marketing team is.
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Edward Buffery Head of LQA (UK), Testronic9 years ago
I think the use of the word 'cheaper' rather than 'less expensive' implies that girlfriends are already cheap, but this game is EVEN cheaper, so I don't think she's misunderstanding the joke. As to whether it's sexist or not, I guess that depends on how balanced their marketing campaigns are towards their potential audience. If they make 'edgy' jokes about different sections of the gaming community then fine, but if all of them are intended only for young men and made at the expense of women, then I would agree that it gives a bad impression and is potentially offensive. Occasionally I meet people who will gladly make jokes about women, jews, black people, gay people, and pretty much anyone. They might be rude, but at least they don't discriminate, and people can usually laugh at most of the jokes since any individual is only the target of a few of them. On the other hand, if I meet someone who only ever makes jokes about people from 1 particular race/gender/nationality/etc, then there's probably a real problem.

I'm not familiar with previous Gamestation marketing campaigns, so I can't really comment on which of the above 2 applies in this case.

P.s. Have they ever advertised an MMORPG or open sandbox game as being "Bigger than your mum!"?
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Abraham Tatester Producer 9 years ago
@ Tony:Do you equate "political correctness" with "respect for others." If that's what being PC is all about, then is it not a good thing?

"Our industry" is not an island, and these sexist attitudes only serve to make it more difficult for the games to gain respectability and relevance in society.

@Till: So this female employee is sexist herself? Your own statement reveals that you don't care what she or other women think, just what men think. That, my friend, is just one aspect of sexism.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 9 years ago
@Andrew Ihegbu:

Then surely the correct tagline for the advertising would be:

"Cheaper than a date/night out"

Still has the same meaning, neither sexist is biased against either sex. Also, i've never been on a date with a woman who expected me to completely foot the bill. I always offer... but that's something different.
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Till Dzierzon Localization QA 9 years ago
@Abraham: Honestly I don't really think about sexism anymore, because to me it simply does not exist.
Try it yourself. Look at women in the same way you look at men and at people that spend a whole night waiting for the next WoW expansion in front of the shop.
Stop putting them in a group for real life issues, but keep the ability to laugh about their respective group.
And yes, I believe this female employee has a very strange view of herself, if she can't see herself being anything but stereotypical female this ad is mentioning.
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Vlad Zotta Operations Director / COO, Netzah Game9 years ago
well, I'd have used "Cheaper than a hangover" and get praised for inspiring ppl to game, instead to drink.

PS I don't have a girlfriend. I have a wife. What do I do? :)

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Vlad Zotta on 24th March 2011 5:00pm

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PATRICK CHUDE Studying MSc. Information Systems, University of Surrey9 years ago
That isn't cheap by a long mile. For cheap games either try Amazon or gaboom. Cheaper than my girlfriend my ass!!
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As written in the press release it is tailored towards the core male gamer who may also read it as In-your-face "Cheaper than your non-existant girlfriend, ha!". To me its disheartening that many people seem to have completely lost their sense of humor. Typically ads can be slightly rude or loud, its in the nature of an advertisement to get attention, nothing to make a fuss of and deal the sexism card.
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Abraham Tatester Producer 9 years ago
@Till: Wait, so you're going to just chalk it up to this female employee being "very strange?" Lol. I don't know if that's sexist but it certainly shows you're comfortable with your own insensitivity.

And "hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil" isn't much of an argument. Your social utopia sounds quite nice, but in the real world, sexism, racism, etc., are alive and well. And as they say, "if you're not part of the solution, you're part of the problem."

@ Dan: This has been an eye-opening debate. Thank you for taking the employee seriously and posting the article.
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Mihai Cozma Indie Games Developer 9 years ago
@James - that is because you are a student yet (I know because I was a student too at some point), and usually students don't have all the money they want to (or could) spend :) But believe me, when you already have a job and you are inviting someone to a restaurant, you are expected to pay that. Of course, if the lady is respectful and cares about your wallet, she won't order ten of the most expensive dishes just to taste a bit from each one of them :)) (only if she wants to take revenge on you or something :P )
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I guess as I am the only woman here, so I try to shed some light on what can be offending and why.
First of all, after 12 years in this industry, I don't really get upset over sexist jokes. Not my problem. If it bothered me, I would have left this industry after a month.
That doesn't make it right though.

To bring in a very wild comparison...

The Mohammad drawings may have been funny for some, however it hurt others. If we think freedom of speech makes it OK to sometimes hurt another person and then call him/her narrow minded, because he/she doesn't have the same sense of humor we have, then freedom of speech is misunderstood.

Based on that, this ad is sexist, because
- it implies, that games are for those who dates girls (not guys), which with all the lesbians included, still mostly guys
- it also implies, that this shop caters mostly for guys, because for one reason or another, girls don't buy or play games...
- and it also suggest, that guys are better off buying second hand games, which is cheaper, than spend money on their girlfriend, which is obviously embarrassing to do... or at least not worth spending money on
(while i don't care if people buy second hand games or spend money on their gf, it is sexist, because it suggest, that it is better to spend money on 2nd hand games than on girls... girls, not partners or dates or anybody, who could also be a guy)

That said, I simply don't think that the marketing department of this establishment was clever enough to think through everything they implied.

I do believe that in an environment where the percentage of men are higher then women, sexism will always be higher against women. Simple math that is.

I just would like to ask everybody to think for a moment before they say something women can misunderstood. We are nice people too. Maybe more sensitive, but nice none the less.
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Feargus Carroll Producer 9 years ago
Well, since all* the male commentators on this post think this is nothing to worry about, then I guess the original complainant is just plain wrong. Nothing to see chaps, as you were.

(* honourable mentions to Barrie and Dan)
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Sharon Price International Co-ordinator, Lightning Fish Games9 years ago
I find it sad that this is THE best slogan Gamestation's marketing team could come up with! I have to agree with James Gallagher that this is lazy, sloppy advertising...
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Andrzej Wroblewski Localization Generalist, Albion Localisations9 years ago
But it's true... Girlfriends are WAY much more expensive.

Just imagine a slogan: "cheaper than your boyfriend". Now, what would that mean? Yes, you guessed! That he's "a cheap". Now, since that's the way of cash-flow between genders, why not call upon it, eh?
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Finlay Thewlis Studying Game Design & Production Management, University of Abertay Dundee9 years ago
who cares
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Andrzej Wroblewski Localization Generalist, Albion Localisations9 years ago
Maybe those who can afford both? ;>
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James Poole Managing Director, Sarcastic Hedgehog Ltd9 years ago
so what's wrong with being sexy?
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Jas Purewal Partner, Purewal & Partners9 years ago
This is the kind of advertising which, in another industry, could quite possibly lead to a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority. I wonder what will happen here...

Oh and +1 to Barry de la Rosa

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jas Purewal on 24th March 2011 5:45pm

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James Poole Managing Director, Sarcastic Hedgehog Ltd9 years ago
Barbara: "The Mohammad drawings may have been funny for some, however it hurt others. If we think freedom of speech makes it OK to sometimes hurt another person and then call him/her narrow minded, because he/she doesn't have the same sense of humor we have, then freedom of speech is misunderstood. "

Are you arguing that the pictures should have never been published or whether those who found them objectional should not have been labled as narrow minded?
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Ryan Duclos Code Monkey, Double Cluepon Software9 years ago
This ad made me chuckle because it's true for one thing and WHO cares if they are discriminating? Males are the main demographic that is going to be buying this game so why not target them?

Not all discriminating is bad, and once you lop these type of actions into one pot you fail to see what is serious and not anymore.

How are women being de-valued here? Because one gaming chain says that girls don't play this type of game? Oh no!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ryan Duclos on 24th March 2011 5:56pm

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The thing is, this kind of ad makes the place less inviting to women and girls. You guys might not get that, but that doesn't make it less true. As a gal who sees this kind of advertising, I kinda just don't want to go into the store. It's sort of like a mild "keep out" sign on the boys tree fort. That might be OK with this store, their primary clients are male, but, yet again, the female gamer is treated as unimportant. I've been gaming for 32 years (since I was rocking Astroids at the local arcade when I was 11) and I'm so tired of being treated as an outsider. bluck.
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Antony Cain Lecturer, Teesside University9 years ago
Whether it's right or wrong, it works... just look at the response to a simple story about it. Any reference to sexism on here racks up the comments in minutes; it's obviously an effective attention-grabber. The less acknowledgment it got, the less it'd be repeated.

Damn, now I've been baited into it :)
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The staffer is arguing only that they are targeting a very specific gender and/or sexual preference, leaving out most female gamers. If the ad had been "Cheaper than a [race]" they would never have gotten away with it.

Just because it works at grabbing attention, doesn't mean it is morally right. There's other ways to be "edgy" and "controversial" without alienating some of your market.

From a business point of view, you have to target most of your market yes, but if you don't need to, why would you cut off part of your market?

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Ajané Celestin-Greer on 24th March 2011 6:40pm

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Tom Keresztes Programmer 9 years ago
Call of duty is hardly a game which a casual gamer would buy on an impulse (be it a girl or guy). Its expensive, and well known.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Tom Keresztes on 24th March 2011 6:55pm

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Marty O'Donnell , Bungie9 years ago
"Cheaper than your date"

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Aodhan O'Donnell9 years ago
Well i don't see it as sexist. But it does come across as just garish and immature.
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Private Industry 9 years ago
Well that price is cheaper than buying a nice dinner or ear rings. Practically speaking over the course of a relationship often men spend more money for their girldfriend than the other way around so in that sense it`s not incorrect. If it was a good slogan for your marketing is a different question. Also probably everybody who is offended by that should stay far away from Duke Nukem Forever if it ever comes out.

The Mohammad drawings, well I have no problem if someone makes a Jesus drawing. :) People need to get a grip and don`t see always everything as offensive and be so touchy i.e. RE5. For 4 main games and countless spin offs it was shooting white people, now for once you shoot native African people in Africa and everybody screams racist. Someone draws a picture of religious figure not from Christianity and people start getting their pitch forks or AK74`s. Someone shoots a virtual animal in a game PETA runs to rescue the poor digital animal and stand up for it`s rights.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Private on 24th March 2011 8:02pm

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Alan Pierce Programmer, Digital Delight9 years ago
@Marty. It wasn't broken. I think your post should've read "Ruined"
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John McGrath Student - Computer Games Development BSc 9 years ago
Buy a Ferrarri - it's still cheaper than some girlfriends :P
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Miguel Melo Principal Software Engineer/Product Manager 9 years ago
I don't know what's wrong with people's sense of humour these days.

I mean, who didn't laugh when - in the Ali G movie - the main character addresses the Feminists by equating them to lesbians? Yes, it's crass if you take it at face value, but it is making fun of himself more than of the feminists (because it's all such nonsense). That's exactly what I see here: it makes fun of the cheapness of gamers more than the lack of virtues of their better halves. I'm a gamer, and I'll be the 1st to acknowledge I'm a bit sad - you won't have to ask my wife. In fact, please don't.

Seriously, people should just lighten up.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Miguel Melo on 24th March 2011 10:10pm

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Robin Clarke Producer, Zattikka Ltd.9 years ago
Regardless of people's opinions of the (not funny, anachronistic, moderately creepy and pathetic) original ad, it strikes me as a rather elementary PR blunder to try to defend it after the fact. It's disrespectful to their own employees as well as their customers (and not just the female ones - it gives me cringing feeling of being told a racist joke by someone who expects you to find that funny). They're trying to flog games here, not make some kind of artistic statement which needs to be protected. They should take their lumps and move on.

I'm not going to pick through the remedial attitudes in the majority of the preceding comments (except to say, um, yikes, something you want to get off your chest, Alexander McConnell?), suffice to say that if you find yourself using the words "political correctness" or "lighten up" to defend some boorish thing someone has done you are almost certainly despicable. Being a bit nicer and more respectful instead of spiteful and antagonistic might be just a bit less of an oppressive burden than you've been led to believe.
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Simon Bostock Awesome mascot of code, Gospelware9 years ago
I'm wondering how many people would be laughing off the ad had it featured a tired and lazy stereotype about let's say Black or Asian people. I'm guessing not that many, that most of the comments would be decrying the company for using such an ad in stores.

This whole issue has nothing to do with hardcore gamers being mainly men and all to do with a company pandering to a certain mindset, in the same way boots do with their sexist manflu adverts. Just because you don't see something as being sexist, doesn't mean that it isn't.

Oh and congratulations on turning this into, oh that Female employee must be a bit stupid to find this offensive, that ad wasn't designed with her in mind, so she just doesn't understand the joke.
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Private Industry 9 years ago
For all I care they could have made the ad saying "Unlike your boyfriend this game will satisfy you©" and there wouldn`t be an outcry on how sexist it would be and probably not many would complain. Because in the current society it is fine to make jokes that involve specific groups, but you can`t do the same sort of jokes with other groups. I`m all for equal rights for all people and by that I mean in every way.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Private on 25th March 2011 1:16am

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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 9 years ago
I think a number of the gentlemen here are missing one thing about being a female gamer.

This isn't just one joke. It's one *more* joke. On top of the hundreds of sexualized insults, rape jokes, denigrations of our capabilities, instances of harrassment and cries of "There are no gurls on the intarwebs" we put up with every single day, it's one more.

That's the reason political correctness exists. Because when you're on the receiving end of these hilarious and original jokes that the world apparently can't do without hundreds of times a week, whether they're for your race, your gender, your weight, a disability or a scar, they become oppressive and a tool to keep you out of that sector of society.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 9 years ago
@ Mihai:

Actually, i'm no longer a student but i don't really have any way to change what i am here on

@Werner, I think the main point is that they could have done this so as to be inclusive - like i pointed out in my previous post - rather than exclusive. Also, i highly doubt that you'd ever see anti-boyfriend/male advertising in the game industry. The fashion industry is more geared towards women (generalising here) and i often find it offensive and annoying for all the anti-boyfriend/male marketing there is out there. Maybe that doesn't bother you, but i have money i'd be willing to spend in certain cases but won't even entertain entering the store because I just don't want to support that clichéd and outdated mindset.

@ Miguel Melo
Ali G was a social commentary and that is why it is more acceptable than what is happening here because this is, in context, a serious endeavour to attract attention and build on social stereotypes.
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I'm loving the number of male commenters basically saying 'this isn't offensive! how is this offensive?' and apparently completely ignoring the all the female commenters who have outlined very clearly just how it is in fact offensive to the people it's maligning.

@Bonnie couldn't agree more, you expressed my feelings perfectly. when I saw this ad all I could do was sigh.
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Nicola Searle Senior Knowledge Exchange Associate, University of Abertay Dundee9 years ago
It's lazy marketing. It is also rather stupid when you consider that up to 40% of gamers are female (

Add that to the fact that only 6% of employees in games are female ( and you have a huge mismatch. Offensive marketing slogans like this aren't going to improve things.

On the other hand, there is no such thing as bad publicity...
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Mihai Cozma Indie Games Developer 9 years ago
Against an individual that is different from you in some way (sex, age, color, spoken language, religion, etc) you can have a variety of attitudes/feelings about those differences: love him/her for the differences, hate him/her, make fun of him/her and so on. All of these attitudes can be kept for yourself, shared with a group of other individuals that share the same attitude towards those differences or manifest it out loud. Depending on your attitude and the nature of your manifestation of it, the "different" individual can react in a variety of ways, and this is very dependent on that individual alone. He/She can feel offended or happy or something else about it, and there are no two individuals alike.

This is part of our day by day social interaction. The differences can vary from the eye color to different spoken language and skin color. For obvious (or not so obvious) reasons, some differences are considered more important than others. Now, considering that all people around you at any moment in time are different than you in some way, a completely neutral position would be to never say anything about the differences between you and them, nor act about it in any way. By saying anything or acting on those differences, you make a statement that represents yourself as a person in that community, that has a big chance to make some of them happy and upset others. The society around us reflects our personality just as a mirror reflects our image. Without making statements and receiving feedback, we can be considered to have a "lack of personality". It is necessary to make a statement of who we are as a person in order to validate our ideas, thoughts and believes against other individuals around us. This is a built-in system for any of us, as human beings.

I can make a comparison between this and artist's work. As an artist, do you make something that is demanded on the market and make a lot of money out of it, or do you make a statement that represents you as a manifest of what you stand for in art, and don't care about what people really say about it. Do you put your personality in your works of art, or allow the average of customer's personalities to be represented in your art?

So the question is: should we be afraid of making any statement ever because of the chance of not hurting someone, even unintended? My personal opinion here is "no", we should show the people around us who we are as a person and let them decide if they like us or not. If almost none likes our statement, we should adjust. If we have mixed feedback, we should stand by that statement, as it represents us as a unique individual in that particular community.

In this particular situation, accepting someone's differences is called "open minded" and should be done by anybody. Acting violently against those differences is bad and should be done by nobody. However never noting any difference and being called words like "racist", "sexist" and others for doing it, in a humorous way or not, is called "narrow minded", "boring" and "monochrome" and should not be encouraged.

Excuse my poor English, hope you understand what I wanted to say.

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Luca Mogini Editor @, Content & Community Manager, Translator 9 years ago
@Nicola: you're absolutely right: is it sexist? Is it not? Is it offensive? whichever way you spin it, we have here about 30 comments on an article about an ad. Whether it will attract some customers who think the ad is witty, or reject some who think it's just a very bad pun, we all know now that at gamestation COD has a 29 pounds price. And this is what marketing and advertising is all about
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Stephen Woollard Online Infrastructure Specialist, Electronic Arts9 years ago
I don't see what this has to do with making me a sandwich...?

(That was irony... stop hitting me)

I had a situation similar to this while playing an MMO recently. There is a player on my server who is Asian, and admittedly a very good player, but he isn't exactly the nicest human being on the planet.

He has a habit of saying things in region and global chat channels like "stupid white people". Now this doesn't bother me personally, but I was interested to see what would happen if I reported him, so I sent in a ticket under the category "vulgar, rascist or hate speech" and nothing happened, so I took it up with the community manager and the upshot was similar to some attitudes here - "we don't see it as a problem". I then asked in that case was it OK for me to say things like "stupid black people" or such, and they told me if I did I would be banned from the game... Basically it seems it's OK to be racist towards one group but not another.

Freedom of speech does not equate to "freedom to offend". I would think that despite the company in question's public response, someone at Gamestation will be getting fired or severely censured over this. It's a similar situation to the Sachsgate affair at the BBC - to some people it's just funny but jokes at the expense of a person/group or whatever really aren't a good idea in any marketing campaign or public address.
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Zidaya Zenovka Blogger, Writer, freelance artist. 9 years ago
Frankly, i not only think this is sexist, it's also really lame and juvenile. Lazy marketer is lazy. Who did they get to write that, someone in junion high?
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Buying cod and playing it religiously is cheaper and easier than finding a girlfriend.
That's how I took it, and Im pretty certain that's true. In fact I know that's true. Anyone who can find and keep a girlfriend for less than £30 and easier than picking up a copy of cod is a god.

Im struggling to see the problem here, apparently this is due to my lack of vagina...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Kurtis Buckley on 25th March 2011 12:23pm

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James Prendergast Research Chemist 9 years ago
@Kurtis -

"Im struggling to see the problem here, apparently this is due to my lack of vagina... "

And that extremely offensive and dismissive attitude is what this is all about....
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Sally Reynolds QA tester, Jagex Games Studio9 years ago
Maybe they're able to cut the prices of their games by not paying for decent marketing execs???

p.s. any decent man can get a decent lady for no cost, so I think it's false advertising myself. :P

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Sally Reynolds on 25th March 2011 12:44pm

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Enlighten me

@Sally yes but there are maintenance costs after the free trial period whereas cod remains fun for no extra cost forever unless you fancy buying the overpriced map packs.
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Lesley Harrison Editor, Myth Games9 years ago
I'm a female and I didn't even notice this ad until a fuss was made about it, and I still don't see what the problem is.

I agree with Kurtis - It's expensive to go on a date, but buying a hardcore game should in theory provide you with several evenings of entertainment. They're marketing to guys, so they say "girlfriend". That's no big deal IMO.

Honestly, I don't care about the content of ads - do people really look at a shop and go "This isn't a place that's welcoming to me"? All I care about is price, returns policy (for expensive stuff), how well they store goods and how annoying the sales people are. I'd rather go to Gamestation and be left alone to browse the shelves than have some no-nothing game staffer pounce the second I walk through the door.
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Gerson Sousa Localisation and Compliance Coordinator, Testronic9 years ago
This is another good example of "lack of creativity" from the marketing people...

It just shows what people can bring up when there’s nothing more creative to say.
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Alan Jack Studying MProf Games Development, University of Abertay Dundee9 years ago
So much of this is one of those *facepalm* moments that make me so ashamed. An advert like that wouldn't see the light of day in another industry, and the people here defending it ...

sigh. Gamers ...
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Harro Grönberg Producer, Rovio Mobile Ltd9 years ago
"An advert like that wouldn't see the light of day in another industry[.]"

I'd not go that far.

But yeah: poor taste. Not sure if it warrants this much flak, but, well.
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Phil O'Connor Lead Game Designer, Eidos Montréal9 years ago
Please don't judge the entire industry by the bad taste of some of the marketing teams it occasionally employs.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 9 years ago

You really need me to go into detail as to what you wrote was both offensive and dismissive?

Okay, well let me break it down for you:

First off, you disregard many of the posts in this thread that were made by men and instead paint the only people who are having a problem with this sort of advertising as being female.

Secondly you are equating the logical thinking and thought processes of women with their sexual anatomy (because the two are somehow linked together!!).

By doing so you are belittling the argument against such advertisements as being an irrational "case of the vapours" whereby the "woman is being completely unreasonable and foolish" and the "man is being completely rational and reasonable". It's completely unacceptable, condescending trash. But then i'm pretty sure you already knew that anyway since you so thoughtfully provided me with a way in which to respond to your bait as if you had no clue at all. :)

The reason this advertising is harmful to, not just the industry in question but also to society, is because of attitudes like the one you displayed above. It may have been unconscious and you may not have thought about it as much you you could have - it was probably a throwaway comment at the time - but this type of advertising reinforces that attitude on all levels.

To put it into perspective. I could, based on your location, sex and attitude, presume several things about your character and life and possibly even be right. Then turn that into an offensive off-hand comment about you and your posting. However, your response to my saying those things would be to dismiss me as an idiot loser and you probably wouldn't give me the time of day because of it. See which side of that analogy you're on?

Edited 3 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 25th March 2011 4:41pm

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Mihai Cozma Indie Games Developer 9 years ago
@ James - "Secondly you are equating the logical thinking and thought processes of women with their sexual anatomy (because the two are somehow linked together!!). "

The anatomy itself does not have to do anything directly with the thought processes, but it has to do everything with it indirectly. Before jumping to conclusions let me explain. While not influencing the thought process directly, being of a certain sex means different education for an individual. That different education means different thinking processes. Don't get me wrong here, I never said one is worst than another, but they are in many situations different. I have seen women reaching same conclusion as I did for the same problem but when confronting the thinking process, they were so different I couldn't believe myself. So not every time and not in every situation but yes, men and women have different thinking processes sometimes because of their anatomy, if you make the link this way. Again, not worst, just different. It's like having another perspective of things, while still 100% correct, is very different than the perspective of the other sex.

If you want to talk more about it and if I'll defeat my laziness in searching some research about this, I think I could find you some references to psychology studies that support what I said above, and even explain it by the theory of reproduction strategies. The short explanation is that each of the two sexes have different reproduction strategies. While the males tend to wander around and spread their genes as wide as possible (what today we call infidelity), women strategy is to find a stable partner which can provide, stick with the family and raise children together. This is not a taught process, it is in our genes as a species. While this is not so obvious in our current society, some scientists believe all our thinking processes (not thinking about math here though, or any other abstract logical process) are taking into consideration our reproduction strategy. This is why I keep thinking myself we are actually living in a women's world, as their strategy is what dominates our society nowadays :))
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Tyler Minarik Contributing Editor 9 years ago
This sort of offensive and shock value humor is the primary reason I don't find cable TV, and primarily family guy, funny any more. It's really not that funny, and the vain attempt at humor leaves a large group of people pissed off, rather than entertained or interested. Yet it seems to be a popular and irritating trend that's infecting all forms of media, likely due to a lack of talent or skillful writers, in combination with the goal of appeasing 'the masses', which it seems are often viewed from a corporate stand point of being mindless drones, or zombies if you please. Vote with your money - if you're offended, don't buy from them. My apologies if I offended any mindless drones.

@Stephen Woollard - Actually, freedom of speech DOES equal the freedom to offend, which is part of the beauty of freedom of speech - However, that doesn't mean people won't have to own up to the consequences of such actions, like in this case pissing off a large part of the female consumer base. For an entirely different example, I have every right and freedom to argue in favor of the Theory of Evolution, which tends to offend people who believe in Creationism. No matter how many people it offends, I won't change my stance on it, but I might choose to tone down how vocal I am about it out of respect for other people's opinions and situations - which is a large part of the issue here. This ad is disrespectful - Will Gamestation own up to that and apologize, or simply ignore those they have offended? It is their right to choose, regardless of what the morally correct choice really is.
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Bonnie Patterson Narrative Designer, Writer 9 years ago
@Kurtis - She said "Any *decent* man.
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Laura Greenfield Studying Biomedical Science, Middlesex University9 years ago
I am a 20 year old girl, who dresses like a girl (in a pink dress at the moment) but does not fall into the whole "I LOVE nintenDOGS and SIMS3" boat. The only games on my shelf atm are FPS, RPG's, and action games. Everytime I walk into ANY game stop, I get staff members coming up to me, which I suppose is nice of them, but then give me the attitude of a child.
They act like I'm buying for someone else straight away, and they also have given me incorrect information before trying to make a sale. Which I dread to think what they do with poeple who really don't know what to get.
Altho, my friends (who are mostly male) think it is very funny when I am talking about games with them in a shop and staff begin to approach me, listen a few seconds, pull a funny face and then walk away without bothering me.
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James Prendergast Research Chemist 9 years ago

Please don't confuse what you talk about in your post with the misogynistic/racist tendency to reduce any valid criticism or complaint of a minority to their "difference". The two subjects are completely different and not related at all.

Also, i would argue that you are wrong. A lot of what you are talking about is learnt behaviour - believe it or not. 100 years ago, pink was a boys colour and blue was a girls.... now it's the opposite. Humans are not defined by their instincts and it's what sets us apart from a large number of animals and has allowed us to culturally and technologically evolve the way we have. Men do not have to act in the way you describe - nor do women - but we see other people doing so and we act in an appropriate manner in order to fit in with our peers. You can easily see this as a difference in any culture (e.g. UK versus Japan) in how males and females or the family unit relates to one another. There are biological factors but i would argue that they are more hormone-driven than just based on "sex". Not to mention that, as i point out above, humans can ignore what their instincts tell them to do...

I have to also say that i disagree with your assessment on the education and thinking front. People who are educated in a certain way are more likely to think in that way. I agree with that. What i disagree with is that sex plays a big role in those differences. What you're likely to be primarily seeing there is the way that society segregates the sexes in various ways and the peer pressure and expectation of each sex from existing societal norms rather than some in-built difference. Men can think differently than other men... women can think differently from other women. Either sex can think the same.... I don't see why there's the need to differentiate beyond "people think differently".

Finally, i think the fact that humans do not have to reproduce to function (in fact many people choose not to have offspring or are unable to because their sexuality precludes them from having their own offspring easily) debunks the idea that reproductive strategy has any large "hold" over us.

Choosing to think about the differences as based on these things muddies the waters on actual debate because, for better or worse, you're "othering" someone. I would bet a lot of money that if you raise a boy in a female environment to respect women and be more acutely aware of traditionally female activities and mindsets then that boy/man would think as the girls/women who are brought up in that same way. Similarly, raise a girl in a male-orientated manner and environment and you're more likely to get the same result but in that different way.

You raise someone in an environment where an "ism" is prevalent, they're most likely going to further those ideas without thinking of challenging them.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by James Prendergast on 25th March 2011 8:50pm

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Craig Mooney Studying Game Art, De Montfort University9 years ago
Both me and my girlfriend thought this ad was tasteless.
We are both experienced core gamers, studying Game Art Design.

She loves gaming and has never felt excluded by the design of any game before.
The only thing that needs adjusting is this attitude that its a predominately male market.

It's not "witty" to pander to the lowest common denominator.

Our Tutor has been in the Games Industry for more than a decade.
If anyone had referred to her as 'cheap' she would have had their head off.

Also, their games aren't cheap! ;)
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