In response to some of the discussion re: booth babes at the Expo:
When we started the Expo in 2008 we set out to create a different kind of gaming show. We’ve been to hundreds of trade and press events ourselves and we knew that our show had to be different to most of the others. In fact, we borrowed a motto from one of our forumites: “It’s all about the games”.
We want the games to do the talking and we want to present games and gamers in the best possible light. That’s why every game on the show floor is playable. It’s why all the booths are open (so you can watch and talk about games while you’re waiting). It’s why we cap the number of tickets on sale to make it a more pleasant experience (although we know there’s more we need to do in this area to reduce queue times). And it’s why we have game branding rather than publisher branding.
One of the things we also decided was that we didn’t want booth babes at the show.
Anyone who has been to more than one of the Expos will see how rapidly the show has grown. That’s great for us and great for gamers – we have more exclusives, more screens, more stuff going on at the event. But also, it means every year we have exhibitors who haven’t attended before and we have new and different organisational challenges.
We’ve always had an informal guideline regarding booth babes: we don’t think they are right for the Expo. When we talk to publishers and exhibitors, we discourage them from bringing booth babes – and encourage them to bring developers.
Of course, exhibitors need to bring staff to the show, but they should be interesting, cool and exciting (Master Chief was /amazing/!) and knowledgeable (developers and publisher staff) rather than pretty girls in revealing outfits just for the sake of it. We want the show to be friendly, and all 50,000 attendees to feel comfortable.
At this year’s show three companies showed up with booth babes. Two in particular we thought were dressed inappropriately. As a short term measure we told them to move into the 18+ zone, and we asked some of them to put on leggings as well.
Although it was only a small number of booth babes, our regret is that we didn’t go further on the first day and just say “this isn’t right” and ask them to change their clothes - or not attend. Instead, with the huge pressures of putting on such a large show and everything that comes with it, we let it go. And that’s what has prompted this debate – and we’re sorry it happened.
For future shows we will be issuing formal guidelines: Booth babes are Not OK.
Every gaming show has gone through this process – but hopefully we will prove that we are different by following through with this promise and next year the only thing people will be talking about will be the games.