Miho, an office worker from Tokyo, is backed up against a wall. Two men in suits are approaching her. “Do I frighten you?” one asks.
I was going to share this story along with all the stuff I wrote at TGS this year, but I think this one stands out. Not only was this the most entertaining thing I saw at the show, it gave me hope for video game marketing in general.
I’m sure every trade show has its sexist moments, but Tokyo Game Show is consistently uncomfortable for me. It’s not just the women asked to pose and parade around every booth (and yes, I mean every booth - even middleware companies hire models), it’s the “boys club” atmosphere of it all.
A trade show is a bad place to experience a video game. There’s so much noise, there’s so many people, your time is limited, everyone’s handing you flyers and free crap…it’s an assault on the senses. What Voltage and Sunsoft (yes, the same Sunsoft that made Batman on NES) did with their booths was push the games into the background. You can download a smartphone game anytime, anywhere. But only at TGS can you engage in a little roleplay.
CAPCOM pulled a similar move this year with a pellet gun shooting gallery in the rear of its booth. It was a chance for me to try something I don’t normally do and having zombie targets kept me thinking about Resident Evil while I was shooting.
But let’s not brush this under the rug: what the romance games corner did was, to me, revolutionary. In a room surrounded by male-gazing and leering, with a giant breast mural on display, these booths were the sexiest thing I saw all week. It had nothing to do with my tastes and everything to do with what women wanted. Speaking personally, when everyone at TGS is trying to sell me something with increasingly lewd messaging, seeing a space designed for women was a breath of fresh air.
I don’t think sex should be off-limits for video games, but after years of enduring “isn’t this SEXY look at these TITS” advertising for games, I don’t have confidence that any AAA title can pull it off. But Voltage and Sunsoft nailed it. I never even thought about female crossdressers before last week and now I’m wondering if I need to know more about them (the answer to that is yes, by the way. So hot.)
I should add that I have not played these games, so I don’t know if they are sex-positive or creepy or whatever. Based solely on this approach to advertising, I think they’re fantastic. And all the women I saw at TGS ate it up.
(crossdressing image taken from Twitter)