Some readers immediately picked up on the sexually suggestive themes of the advertisement. Reader Garold wrote, "I saw this ad in PC Gamer and I felt sick for quite a
while afterward. I think this is definitely going WAY too far." This line of inquiry lead reader Jerfgoke to
ponder whether the increasing visual fidelity of video games might lead to the emergence of true "murder
simulators." He wrote, "Right now, I think there's a big difference between a murder simulator and GTA 3, but
this might not always stay the case."
There were plenty of voices on the other side of the debate. Several
readers questioned the idea that this advertisement implied that the murdered woman in it had suffered any sexual
indignities. "The Fact the girl is relatively undressed does not imply rape, but skin does sell in the gaming
community," wrote Marino R.
In the end, however, it's clear that a
semi-naked woman carefully arranged on a bed has clear and prominent sexual connotations and that if rape isn't
explicitly evoked, it's implicit in the situation.
Kate summarized it best with her thoughtful deconstruction
of the advertisement:
"The fact of
the matter is that a scantily clad woman in a submissive position is a sexual figure.... to make it a violent scene, it
doesn't matter if that's the intention, but it gains undertones of physical and sexual violence against women.
Any argument along the lines of "Oh, if it was a sexy man who was dead, no one would
have a problem with the sex/violence combination." And you're right -- a barechested, attractive man doesn't have
the same qualitative characteristics as an attractive woman. A man is attractive by being strong and in control,
whereas a woman by being slim, pretty and submissive (just look at the body language of advertising and *on average,*
that's the case). So it *is* significant that it is a sexy woman and not a man because of the double standards of
attraction for men and for women.
Whether or not it's the intention, it is
yet another drop in the bucket of cases of violence against a sexualized woman. Thus, it contributes to a culture of
acceptance of those messages."
Our goal in posting this advertisement was not to suggest one
position or the other, but merely to get gamers to talk about the purpose behind the ad and the appeals it made to
various segments of the gaming audience. If we had to take a position, we'd say that this advertisement is
embarrassingly old-fashioned in its promulgation of antiquated gender norms. It's as if the game's marketers believe
their customers are living in a time warp in which sexual violence against women was far more common, widespread, and
Later this morning, we'll post another advertisement for reader feedback.