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eagames.jpgTo promote a game called Dante’s Inferno, Electronic Arts decided to hold a competition at Comic-Con: (male) attendees were encouraged to “commit acts of lust” with so-called “booth babes”, for a chance to win “a sinful night with two hot girls, a limo service, paparazzi and a chest full of booty”.

Yeah, in all seriousness they were offering prizes for attendees who sexually harassed women working at the convention (there’s a whole other post that I could write about the concept of hiring “booth babes”, but that will have to wait for another day.)

You can see the leaflet they distributed at the convention over at Mashable.

EA posted a ludicrously weak apology (in which they continue to advertise the competition), claiming that the competition was about taking your picture with ‘booth babes’ and nothing more. The apology has since been taken down. But as Christyxcore says:

“Commit acts of lust” really doesn’t translate to “take a photo with…” at all.

In fact, I’d say it’s disingenuous to claim that’s what they meant.

iola, who actually works as a ‘booth babe’ points out that EA games is not only encouraging people to grope their own employees, but also other women who happen to be working for other companies or just attending the convention in costume:

Have any of you BEEN a “booth babe”? No? Then STFU. Myself, I’ve been a “booth babe” at many comic, scifi and anime cons for the last several yrs. I was also the training manager for ALL employees, running the booths and overseeing the product of two major companies. I also happen to be attractive and enjoy wearing costumes. I have a four-yr degree and my day-job is in the comic industry. But I guess I’m ASKING to be groped because I’m one step up from a hooker, right? Even if I WAS a fucking hooker, that gives no one the right. I can walk around in a thong and pasties and it’s nobody’s license to touch.

As for those that think the “fine print” settles everything, you’re sadly wrong. I just worked a con last week where about 2-in-3 people would come stand directly under a large sign and STILL ask me the question answered on it. People don’t read. You’d be lucky if they read the whole ad, let alone some fine print bullshit.

Then there’s the girls. The brass BALLS on EA to put a bounty on OTHER booth girls. Hell, girls in general. Afterall, how does someone know who other booth girls are? At one SDCC I was trying to have a converstation with my editor off on the fringe of a booth, not wearing any “booth babe” identifiers–just being a girl in a costume–and we kept getting harassed by people who thought I was one of the booth’s “babes.”

Lastly, you guys think that people offended by this are over-reacting because SANE people at a con would never do something criminal? Spoken like someone who’s not female and dressed up at a con. Last week I had some moron ACTUALLY STALK one of my new girls. Kept coming back to the booth even after she told him she wouldn’t hang out. He kept getting more insistent that she hang out with him and give him her phone number. Kept telling her he’d come back when she asked him not to. Tried to FOLLOW HER. Yah, that’s obviously not dangerous AT ALL. I’ve had my own issues over the years, including stalkers, men trying to take invasive photos, or grabbing things they shouldn’t. I have at least a couple of guys a con who cross the line. Please don’t downplay the seriousness of a situation that you know NOTHING ABOUT.

The Iris Gaming Network has put together a link round up of reactions to this. And you can see the many tweets on this (mostly calling out EA, rather than defending them) here.