There's one thing about video game conventions that I find even more polarizing than whether PCs are better than consoles, which console is the best, or whether or not walking simulators can even be considered games. That one polarizing conversation topic above all others is ”booth babes.” Are they necessary? Are booth babes an awesome addition to an already epic event? Are they distracting from the subject at hand? Do they anger people more than they bring them joy, or vice versa?
It's an interesting topic, no matter which side of the line you fall on. Personally, I don't see the harm in booth babes. The women that are filling these positions are doing so willingly. Some of them just need some extra cash, and this is a fun, safe, and interesting way to do so. Others are looking to get their foot in the door of an industry (or industries) that they might otherwise struggle for years to enter. No matter the women's reasons for becoming a booth babe, they've chosen to do so of their own free will. Everyone in the world has a right to do what they want and what makes them happy. Some of these ladies might be aspiring public relations executives or models. If being a booth babe gets them closer to their dreams, then what in the world is wrong with that? At the very least, being a booth babe would make for a great story later on in your life.
If there's anything I could say to the detriment of booth babes, it's that the concept can be entirely different depending on where you're seeing them. In Japan, booth babes are actually called booth companions, and they're not just pretty faces. These women speak much better English than many of the actual game developers. They've also been trained to understand the product that they're representing.
At many American video game and technology conventions, I've run into the same problem. In some cases, the booth representative know next to nothing about the game they are standing next to. They're usually just glorified station attendants. They're there to clean up trash, make sure the system stays in working order, and make small talk with the attendees. The representatives know basic facts about the game that you might already know before you even approach them. In Japan, the booth babes can answer hard hitting questions.
There's also the fact that Japanese booth babes can speak English better than the people that created and are working on the games. There have also been moments at conventions where I've met developers who use English as their second language, and not always very well. If highly trained booth babes were the norm at American conventions, they'd be able to answer questions for me in English. Or at worst, they could translate between the developers' native language and mine.
A lot of people take offense to booth babes because they see it as a political statement that it's okay to objectify women. But really, the people who think that way are just taking things at face value. Investigate the situation before you judge. If American booth babes were trained and prepared like their counterparts in Japan, they would be so much more than just an eye-catching attendant. They can be integral and crucial employees when it comes to showcasing a game or technology. And, at the very least, they bring people into booths that might not otherwise stop by.
I'm all for bringing booth babes back to American gaming conventions. The optimal situation would be booth babes that are well-trained and prepared to serve as representatives for their companies. If you just plop a cute girl in front of a booth with no training, you give the haters fuel to add to their fire. It's then that she becomes a simple prop rather than an actual asset to the company. Plus, they don't have to be only female! There are plenty of people in the video game industry that would love to see a shirtless hunk standing in front of a booth as well. Just train him as well as you would the girls, and everybody would be happy.
Who else wants to see booth babes return to gaming conventions? Do you think they should be well trained authorities on games? Or do you just like the pretty faces? How would you feel about the inclusion of booth hunks as well as babes? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!