Satisfying the Play Boys (and Girls)

Sexy videogame characters are nothing new. This is familiar territory for us now. For the boys, there is a wealth of smoking hot chicks willing to put their appendages (and usually their weapons too) to good use. Lara Croft is one of the first to spring to mind. Then there are of course the ladies from Dead or Alive who went to play Volleyball and so on and so forth. Similarly, there is little shortage of sexy males vying for attention. The Prince of Persia flashes his pecs every now and then as do Ryu and Ken who do so with raw manly battle cries.

Man, it's hot out here.
Man, it's hot out here.

It’s entirely possible at this point to dive into a debate concerning sex in the video games industry, but it would all be ground that has been covered before; Martin has written recently about nudity and possible growing maturity about it in games. We could also dive into a gender debate with it: sexy semi-naked women seem to be around more often than sexy semi-naked men, etcetera. But the bottom line is we all know that sex sells, it’s the oldest trick in the book and one that catches attention, it reels us in and it leaves us dribbling for more. Oh, and it also gives us something to look at while beating up monsters.

Eye candy for all!
Eye candy for all!

Bayonetta is the latest in the long line of overtly sexualised videogame characters. The skintight ‘clothing’, the librarian/dominatrix look, the teasing one-liners; a powerful female who uses her feminine sexuality to full advantage and devastating effect. After all, it is her long flowing hair, one of the great symbols of femininity, that serves to deal out all manner of painful and unthinkable torture. A strong image indeed, and a character that has certainly captured the imagination of the gaming public and even us Ready Uppers, given the amount of posts on this lady recently.

Knowing full well that sex sells, and knowing the attention that Bayonetta has received as well as its potential, Playboy have launched their own ‘Sexiest Bayonetta’ contest. In this contest, several Playboy models dress up as the wicked witch herself and are clamouring for votes (you may still have time to vote if you’re lucky and that way inclined). On the page (which isn’t really work safe – come on, it’s Playboy!), as well as the five candidates themselves are no less than three Bayonetta adverts. Buy it now! Look at these sexy ladies! Oh, and don’t forget to register for premium naked content!

Three of the five lookalikes you can vote for.
Three of the five lookalikes you can vote for.

It’s incredibly interesting how Playboy have actually done this. How much permission would they have had to obtain to run such a contest, to link themselves to Bayonetta so directly, to litter their site with advertising and put official game footage into the trailers for each model? I’m no expert in the logistics of having to run such a contest, and footage is widely available on the internet but they must have had some kind of permission. If they did have permission, then it is interesting that they were granted it. While Bayonetta is ripe for all sorts of sexual imagery, it only has a 15 rating. But then again, the trailers aren’t exactly full-frontal; Playboy could get away with it since they have restricted access to anything more revealing.

As a side note, on a cosplay point of view the girls get marks for effort (damn, check out those guns! The props, of course) but not necessarily for accuracy. They’re sexed up, but to be honest Bayonetta doesn’t really need to be. She’s sexy enough without baring too much flesh. Still, I suppose this could go some way to breaking the geeky stereotype that still plagues cosplay nowadays. Hooray for Playboy… successfully satisfying sexy gamer needs everywhere and championing cosplay… even if a lot of Bayonetta fans are probably more preoccupied with the game itself at the moment.

The original, and the best.
The original, and the best.







4 responses to “Satisfying the Play Boys (and Girls)”

  1. Darach avatar

    It’s the not the first time Playboy have gotten involved in games.
    Didn’t Lara ‘do’ a nude shoot for them years ago?
    And I think they’ve done a “Girls of Gaming” issue a couple of times since, with (officially sanctioned) softcore digital art of the DOA girls, the chick from BloodRayne and the like.

    Hard to know what it says about gaming, but it sure says something about the scale and reach of the sex industry when publishers/developers are willing to see their characters and games marketed in this way.

    Interesting stuff.

  2. John.B avatar

    It’s an interesting link but is it one doing more harm than good? Females are already objectified to a huge degree in games and online are harassed routinely, does this kind of attention being condoned by publishers through things like the Bayonetta contest simply reinforce the view that in games women can be great gamers, great characters but at the end of the day they are first and foremost sexy.

    It flies in the face of modern feminist theory which suggests some sort of empowerment behind the acceptance of sexuality but in reality I doubt that the industry can really change and grow beyond pre set parameters with the same gender roles.

  3. daiphoenix avatar

    I am one of the few (male) gamers who really don’t like sexualized female characters, of the likes of Bayonetta, Shahdee, Elexis Sinclair, and many others (even Lara Croft, although not as much). The reason has nothing to do to whether it objectifies women or not (in fact I dont think it does, at least not in the pejorative sense as employed by 2nd wave feminists). Rather, I don’t like it because almost always the outfits and mannerisms of said characters are very unrealistic for whatever universe they are in, magical or not. This ties in with my overall personal preference for games that are realistic, self-consistent, and immersive. And all those game aspects are harmed by overtly sexualized characters, done so for the sole purpose of raising a boner in a pre-sales shop scenario, or, just as frequently, for gamers who “like to stare at sexy avatars” while playing. 😛
    For me, this is what I like:
    (what a fiery beauty!)

    Granted, this idea depends a lot on the nature of the game. For action games that are not story-based at all, like fighting games, or multiplayer action-FPS’s like Quake3, its really not that applicable. But for most games, it is quite relevant.

    And note that I have no lack appreciation for female beauty. But when I want to look at sexy women… well, that is what porn is for… XP But when gaming, well, my mindset is different. The world needs saving! And everyone better be ready!

  4. Simon avatar

    For me, Bayonetta is not sexy at all. She just isn’t. Doesn’t float my boat. Doesn’t put the cherry in my Manhattan. Doesn’t put the bulb in my lamp. Doesn’t put the peanut in my M&M. I’ll stop.

    I do very much like her character though. She strikes me as a well written, and maybe even well-rounded (not in that way), protagonist.

Leave a Reply