Evaluation of gender stereotype enforcement in G4's E3 coverage

I was working during E3, and to catch up I turned on G4's replayed E3 coverage to play in the background as I cleaned the house. I'm vaguely familiar with G4's reputation as somewhat of a joke in the serious gaming community, but I'd never actually seen any of their programming. The twenty or so minutes I could choke down were.... enlightening. Jesus, are they serious?

Although it was a shitstorm in its entirety, I was particularly shocked at their covert (and overt!) portrayal of women as vapid eye candy, nothing more. None of their male interviewers struck me as particularly talented (certainly not GB caliber ;) ), but their female interviewers asked the type of questions I would expect from someone who has never picked up a controller before. (Example: a general "so what's this game about?" versus a more nuanced "how is this an improvement on the FPS genre?") What's more, the lady employees were on-screen most of the time during their interviews while male employees' interviews would switch between shots of the interviewer and the interviewee. I didn't care enough about my thesis to actually tally screen time usage, mostly because that would involve watching more G4.

Another thing I noticed was that most of the women were very similar to one another. Andy Allo and Sarah Underwood's voices are both high-pitched and nasal. Their physical features are slightly different, but both are slender and were wearing revealing clothing. Shots of the G4 party were stocked with more-attractive-than average women wearing less clothing than average.

So what's my point in all this? Stereotypes arise or are reinforced when seemingly homogeneous groups are presented. By providing a collection of very similar women, G4 is presenting a prototype for what a "gamer woman" is like: absolutely gorgeous, but unable to appreciate the finer points of gaming. I did find an exception that proved the rule: Morgan Webb. She interviewed a developer for a longer stretch of time, and the questions were more sophisticated (she asked about art direction and the game creation process) and screen time was split as it was for male interviewers. She showed that women are capable of playing games intelligently. If G4 found more employees that were more than year-round booth babes, they might be able to improve their image as denigrating to women.

EDIT: My argument isn't against hot women - sexy ladies exist! My argument is against the homogeneity of women as presented by G4 (that is, most "gamer women" are hot, but unable to be serious gamers). I also understand that G4 is a company trying to make money and that they have a target demographic of casual dude-bro gamers. Again, wanting to make money is an understandable motive. But when they present their demographic with these homogeneous female prototypes, the casual young gamer sees social scripts for appropriate behavior when interacting with gamer girls (i.e.: Tits or GTFO!).

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Posted by okoctothorpe

I was working during E3, and to catch up I turned on G4's replayed E3 coverage to play in the background as I cleaned the house. I'm vaguely familiar with G4's reputation as somewhat of a joke in the serious gaming community, but I'd never actually seen any of their programming. The twenty or so minutes I could choke down were.... enlightening. Jesus, are they serious?

Although it was a shitstorm in its entirety, I was particularly shocked at their covert (and overt!) portrayal of women as vapid eye candy, nothing more. None of their male interviewers struck me as particularly talented (certainly not GB caliber ;) ), but their female interviewers asked the type of questions I would expect from someone who has never picked up a controller before. (Example: a general "so what's this game about?" versus a more nuanced "how is this an improvement on the FPS genre?") What's more, the lady employees were on-screen most of the time during their interviews while male employees' interviews would switch between shots of the interviewer and the interviewee. I didn't care enough about my thesis to actually tally screen time usage, mostly because that would involve watching more G4.

Another thing I noticed was that most of the women were very similar to one another. Andy Allo and Sarah Underwood's voices are both high-pitched and nasal. Their physical features are slightly different, but both are slender and were wearing revealing clothing. Shots of the G4 party were stocked with more-attractive-than average women wearing less clothing than average.

So what's my point in all this? Stereotypes arise or are reinforced when seemingly homogeneous groups are presented. By providing a collection of very similar women, G4 is presenting a prototype for what a "gamer woman" is like: absolutely gorgeous, but unable to appreciate the finer points of gaming. I did find an exception that proved the rule: Morgan Webb. She interviewed a developer for a longer stretch of time, and the questions were more sophisticated (she asked about art direction and the game creation process) and screen time was split as it was for male interviewers. She showed that women are capable of playing games intelligently. If G4 found more employees that were more than year-round booth babes, they might be able to improve their image as denigrating to women.

EDIT: My argument isn't against hot women - sexy ladies exist! My argument is against the homogeneity of women as presented by G4 (that is, most "gamer women" are hot, but unable to be serious gamers). I also understand that G4 is a company trying to make money and that they have a target demographic of casual dude-bro gamers. Again, wanting to make money is an understandable motive. But when they present their demographic with these homogeneous female prototypes, the casual young gamer sees social scripts for appropriate behavior when interacting with gamer girls (i.e.: Tits or GTFO!).

Posted by Coombs

women are more than vapid eye candy? 
 

Edited by AhmadMetallic

Don't tell me you didn't sit back, fondle your balls and watch the twitter lady move those lips.. That chick was too hot. 
 
On a serious note, i agree. Just look at this stupid woman right here : 
  

   
Aside from the MW3 guys being total dudebros who had nothing to say about the game other than the 60 FPS and smooth action, I cringed when i saw that female presenter being the dumb THAT'S COOL interviewer...   
My favorite part is when she asks about grenade launchers (or rocket launchers) in the MP, and when the fake-sounding canned crowd went "ooooooh" she said "What? A girl likes a good grenade launcher!"
Posted by WoodenPlatypus

Women still being treat like bits of meat? 
No way. The world is a very biased place, I don't think women will ever be properly accepted in the gaming world. 
 
Just enjoy what you can and don't worry, I don't think any of these women mind. 
They seemd a bit airheaded anyways.
Posted by ImperiousRix

Sadly, video games are a very male dominated industry at the moment.  It's getting better, but sadly the ladies just don't get the respect they deserve, and this is exacerbated by mainstream coverage by G4, the VMA's and others in which women are primarily eye candy.  Case in point... 
  

   
It'll get better, eventually (as things do), but it's a sad trend at the moment.
Posted by ryanwho

Ep 2 is the one with the cut interview, right? That shit was golden.

Posted by LiquidPrince

@Coombs said:

women are more than vapid eye candy?

You dick.... You gosh darned hilarious dick... XD

Posted by okoctothorpe

I know none of what I said was a revelation, nor do I think that the booth babes necessarily mind being treated as such. However, when stereotypes are reinforced, it makes it more difficult for outliers to fight against the preconceived notions. It contributes to the "Tits or GTFO" environment so common in online multiplayers. I know denigration of EVERYONE is part of the online experience, but it's something that a subsection of the population is ready to move beyond.

Oh, and @Ahmad_Metallic :

Don't tell me you didn't sit back, fondle your balls and watch the twitter lady move those lips.. That chick was too hot.
I agree she's hot, but no balls-fondling here. I'm a lady too!
Posted by AhmadMetallic
@okoctothorpe said: 

@Ahmad_Metallic :

Don't tell me you didn't sit back, fondle your balls and watch the twitter lady move those lips.. That chick was too hot.
 
I agree she's hot, but no balls-fondling here. I'm a lady too!

 If you mentioned being a female in the OP i must've missed it, and i'm sorry :P 
And if you didn't, dudette.. that's uncool! You can't go on a gaming forum talking about babelicious presenters enforcing stereotypes and not tell us you're a female yourself! I take pride in my ball-fondling confession!
Posted by okoctothorpe

@Ahmad_Metallic: Dude, it's cool. If I had balls, I'd fondle them nonstop.

Posted by PenguinDust

One of their high profile hosts, Sara Underwood, was Playmate of the Year, so yeah they concentrate on a specific demographic.  Sexuality sells and as much as all of us here on Giant Bomb might like to believe otherwise, the content on this site would not be enough to keep a 3rd rate cable network afloat.  So, G4 does what they have to in the hopes of breaking even and keeping their jobs.  I'm not so high minded to have a problem with it.  I know it's all fantasy and frivolity. 

Posted by Coombs
@okoctothorpe said:

@Ahmad_Metallic: Dude, it's cool. If I had balls, I'd fondle them nonstop.

You got boobs,  
Get Fondling
Edited by Stonecutter
@Coombs said:

@okoctothorpe said:

@Ahmad_Metallic: Dude, it's cool. If I had balls, I'd fondle them nonstop.

You got boobs,  
Get Fondling
Agreed, and Tits or GTFO.
 
But frankly, I'm just impressed you kept it on for 20 minutes and were able to compose something intelligible afterwords. I'd be more offended by the stereotyping if I had any sort of expectations that G4 was going to be something more than unadulterated dogshit, but alas... 
 
I like think any person who has actually had contact with a female who actually plays games is going to have a healthy, or at least healthier-than-portrayed-by-G4, view of female gamers, the ones that haven't probably aren't going to have the healthiest outlook towards women to begin with. It sucks that G4 contributes to this, but again, refer to the previous paragraph.
Posted by okoctothorpe

@PenguinDust: Ah, I didn't know she actually WAS a playmate! That explains a lot.

I realize that the video game industry is, above all else, an industry and needs to make money. And of course, sex sells! I'm guessing Sarah Underwood appeals to a large section of G4's audience or she wouldn't be on. But I don't think sexiness precludes intelligence. Look at Morgan Webb - she's an attractive woman as well as able to provide meaningful content. My argument is not against sexy or even vapid and sexy. It's in favor of greater heterogeneity.

@Stonecutter: I'm glad we live together so I can go punch you in the face :P

Posted by Gamer_152

It's been a long-running problem with G4 and I find it frankly patronising. I don't think there's anything wrong with a little eye candy now and then but what G4 are doing doesn't just make for what is in my opinion is bad TV, but genuinely reinforces discriminating gender stereotypes in young males. I'd like to be able to think better of the journalism outlets out there but this is a problem that's only going to change on the whole as we see more females actually become consumers of "core" games and even then I don't think it's something we're ever going to be completely free of, not that we shouldn't at least try to voice our collective opinion on this one. I'm just glad that there are places out there like The Escapist, Gamasutra and Gamespot who have female journalists that aren't just used for eye candy and are genuinely intelligent.

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Posted by MordeaniisChaos

G4? Try all of them. IGN, Spike, G4... They all do it. It's stupid, but the males aren't any better, to be honest, just vapid idiots.

Posted by kingzetta

When they went around and talked to all the booth babes, I really thought to myself "Seriously are these woman, normally hookers the rest of the year?"

Posted by Rawrnosaurous

G4 tends to be everything that is wrong with the game industry and gaming journalism. They had a booth babe contest going a while back so that people could "win" the chance to be a booth babe, my ex nana didn't make the cut even though she knows more about gaming than I do and is gorgeous to boot. Instead they awarded it to one of those vapid, I don't have to know anything as long as i look good in the outfits kinda girls.

Posted by Animasta

actually, OP, the only good people on G4 are Adam Sessler (Morgan Webb isn't that bad either, comparatively, but...)

Posted by Hailinel

This, coming from the network behind Abbie Heppe's "ZOMG SEXIST" Other M review.

Heh.

Edited by Vegetable_Side_Dish

Welcome to the 

 world. 
Posted by project343

G4 knows their market, as does Spike.

Posted by CharlesAlanRatliff
@okoctothorpe said:

(Example: a general "so what's this game about?" 

I've heard the Giant Bomb guys ask this several times! I can't comment on anything else as I didn't watch their coverage. I do know Morgan Webb is legit, though (as you said).
Posted by RE_Player1

@Hailinel said:

This, coming from the network behind Abbie Heppe's "ZOMG SEXIST" Other M review.

Heh.

God I remember that. I don't even watch G4 but I was flipping around and saw that they were reviewing it so I tuned it. My jaw was on the floor when I heard that review. Reminding me of that and now looking at their E3 coverage makes my mind go crazy!!!

Posted by Herocide

Victor Lucas is the only guy on G4 who I can stomach anymore. I miss the old TechTV days. ):

Posted by SpiritGoat

I can't make it through more than maybe two minutes of Attack of the show

Posted by Pinworm45
@MordeaniisChaos said:

G4? Try all of them. IGN, Spike, G4... They all do it. It's stupid, but the males aren't any better, to be honest, just vapid idiots.

No, the guys are far, far better. It's not even comparable, and I don't particularly like the dudes on any of those sites. 
 
I've yet to be even moderately impressed by any chick in gaming news or whatever. In fact, every single one annoys me and I find their writing and/or interviewing horrendous.  
 
If that's not their fault and it's the networks or companies hiring hot but dumb chicks, that changes nothing and isn't my fault. If that makes me a sexist pig, alright. I'd rather be honest.
Posted by DystopiaX

@Pinworm45 said:

@MordeaniisChaos said:

G4? Try all of them. IGN, Spike, G4... They all do it. It's stupid, but the males aren't any better, to be honest, just vapid idiots.

No, the guys are far, far better. It's not even comparable, and I don't particularly like the dudes on any of those sites. I've yet to be even moderately impressed by any chick in gaming news or whatever. In fact, every single one annoys me and I find their writing and/or interviewing horrendous. If that's not their fault and it's the networks or companies hiring hot but dumb chicks, that changes nothing and isn't my fault. If that makes me a sexist pig, alright. I'd rather be honest.

There are good ones, but the ones that aren't hot either don't get attention or don't work in those specific capacities. For example, the lone person doing G4's esports content is a woman, got featured on the SC centric State of the Game podcast, and sounded intelligent, both in general, about the game, and about "esports". Most of the ones on G4 actually are just TV personalities/models, so it's not really their fault. They got hired to read a script basically.

Posted by gafasibm
@okoctothorpe said:

I was working during E3, and to catch up I turned on G4's replayed E3 coverage to play in the background as I cleaned the house. I'm vaguely familiar with G4's reputation as somewhat of a joke in the serious gaming community, but I'd never actually seen any of their programming. The twenty or so minutes I could choke down were.... enlightening. Jesus, are they serious?

Although it was a shitstorm in its entirety, I was particularly shocked at their covert (and overt!) portrayal of women as vapid eye candy, nothing more. None of their male interviewers struck me as particularly talented (certainly not GB caliber ;) ), but their female interviewers asked the type of questions I would expect from someone who has never picked up a controller before. (Example: a general "so what's this game about?" versus a more nuanced "how is this an improvement on the FPS genre?") What's more, the lady employees were on-screen most of the time during their interviews while male employees' interviews would switch between shots of the interviewer and the interviewee. I didn't care enough about my thesis to actually tally screen time usage, mostly because that would involve watching more G4.

Another thing I noticed was that most of the women were very similar to one another. Andy Allo and Sarah Underwood's voices are both high-pitched and nasal. Their physical features are slightly different, but both are slender and were wearing revealing clothing. Shots of the G4 party were stocked with more-attractive-than average women wearing less clothing than average.

So what's my point in all this? Stereotypes arise or are reinforced when seemingly homogeneous groups are presented. By providing a collection of very similar women, G4 is presenting a prototype for what a "gamer woman" is like: absolutely gorgeous, but unable to appreciate the finer points of gaming. I did find an exception that proved the rule: Morgan Webb. She interviewed a developer for a longer stretch of time, and the questions were more sophisticated (she asked about art direction and the game creation process) and screen time was split as it was for male interviewers. She showed that women are capable of playing games intelligently. If G4 found more employees that were more than year-round booth babes, they might be able to improve their image as denigrating to women.

when u grow up, you'll realise adults that game dont give a crap about this topic.
Posted by HatKing
@okoctothorpe: I was watching the coverage with my girlfriend.  I was embarrassed enough admitting to her that this week I would be watching a video game convention on TV, but when G4 decided to go on about their "both babe of the year" I had trouble even justifying to myself my interest in the programming.  Ended up that I watched the press conferences on G4 (it was nice to watch them on my HDTV rather than my laptop) and essentially ignore the rest of their coverage.
Posted by endaround
@gafasibm: When you grow up you'll realize that adults actually do care about the topic and how it reflects on them besides its overall social implications.
Posted by clstirens

Wait, G4 still has ANY programming relating to games?
 
Holy shit, I thought it was just cheaters and cops now!

Posted by JasonR86
@okoctothorpe
 
So, you're upset that a TV channel put good looking people on their channel?  Further, you're upset because the women's voices sounded similar and that they didn't ask the greatest questions?
 
These seems like minor complaints to me.  Not everyone is great at giving interviews and not every interview, regardless of the interviewer, is great.  Jeff and Ryan have both messed up during interviews before and they are much more experienced in it then most of the on-screen talent on G4.  Plus, G4 isn't going to put unattractive people or even average people on-screen.  What would be the benefit of that?  Further they are not alone in that tactic.  Every channel, big or small, will put more good looking people on-screen then not.  That's just how television works.  As for the voices, female voices kind of just sound similar just as a lot of male voices sound similar.  What makes a voice unique is the personality attached to that voice.  You couldn't tell the women's voices apart because you don't know who they are thus you don't have a recognition and a relation to that voice.  For a long time, when I first visited this site, I couldn't tell the difference between Vinny and Dave's voices.  It wasn't until I understood who they were that I could tell them apart.
Posted by crusader8463

What you say with the interview stuff is more a matter of inexperience. Adam and Morgan have been doing it for over a decade, tehehehehehe, so they are seasoned interviewers, while the other air heads are just the always circulating stable of boobs that G4 employees. Not sure if they kept up with it, but they generally change them out every year or two as the 13 year olds they cater to grow tired of them around then and the only reason they are there is eye candy. G4 caters to the 13 year old boy and the dude bros. 
 
Makes me sad that someone as awesome and talented as sessler, and a couple of the other guys that are on feedback, are stuck there.

Posted by Aronman789
@endaround said:
@gafasibm: When you grow up you'll realize that adults actually do care about the topic and how it reflects on them besides its overall social implications.
You'll also learn how to spell "You", to put an apostrophe in "Don't", how to capitalize, and how to not say that everyone agrees with you.
Posted by ShaggE
@gafasibm said: 
when u grow up, you'll realise adults that game dont give a crap about this topic.
Wow, the entire 18+ gaming community created a single account and posted to GB! That makes this site one of the largest ever, community wise! Incredible. Odd that I don't remember joining in on this action, though... or that we've all forgotten how to spell "you", or that every single one of us has the same opinion, or acts like a condescending dick for no discernible reason. 
Edited by SirPsychoSexy

Why do people care so much about grammar and spelling on the internet? Do you honestly think this guy cannot spell you? If he was turning in an essay I am sure he would not type like that, but this is a forum on the fucking internet. I was easily able to understand him and he got his point across clearly, fixing his errors would not have made things any different. I personally try to type well most of the time because I am so used to doing it at work and in other things, but who honestly gives a fuck how they type if it's faster for them and you can get what they are saying without a problem. In my opinion correcting grammar on the internet is a pointless waste of time. 
 
Am I the only one who feels this way?

Posted by JasonR86
@SirPsychoSexy
 
You might be the only one that feels that way.  I understand making errors from time to time but writing something that is completely incomprehensible is ridiculous.  Plus, when you're trying to pick on someone else and your entire post is full of spelling and grammar errors your just asking for it.
Posted by Dany

@Hailinel said:

This, coming from the network behind Abbie Heppe's "ZOMG SEXIST" Other M review.

Heh.

It is fucking disappointing that she quit to work at Respawn Games. When I heard the news I was not surprised she would take the opportunity but damn, she was the only one besides Adam Sessler who knew what they were talking about.

Posted by Aronman789
@SirPsychoSexy said:
Why do people care so much about grammar and spelling on the internet? Do you honestly think this guy cannot spell you? If he was turning in an essay I am sure he would not type like that, but this is a forum on the fucking internet. I was easily able to understand him and he got his point across clearly, fixing his errors would not have made things any different. I personally try to type well most of the time because I am so used to doing it at work and in other things, but who honestly gives a fuck how they type if it's faster for them and you can get what they are saying without a problem. In my opinion correcting grammar on the internet is a pointless waste of time.   Am I the only one who feels this way?
I did it because he was being a douche, I don't always go around and do it. Still, the reason I don't believe it is okay to only type out half of a word is that this isn't texting. You're not in any hurry, because if you were you wouldn't be typing out a response on a thread, you're using a full sized keyboard, not one smaller than your hand, and you're not being charged by the letter like texting used to be (which has gone out of use now and so texting also doesn't have that excuse). Thus there is no serious excuse for you not to stop to look over your post and make any needed corrections before you post it.
Posted by Hailinel

@Dany said:

@Hailinel said:

This, coming from the network behind Abbie Heppe's "ZOMG SEXIST" Other M review.

Heh.

It is fucking disappointing that she quit to work at Respawn Games. When I heard the news I was not surprised she would take the opportunity but damn, she was the only one besides Adam Sessler who knew what they were talking about.

I never heard the reasons for why she left. I just assumed that she got fed up with the backlash from the Other M review. :P

Posted by Apathylad

It's nothing new from them. Here's a G4 video. Over 13 million views:

Posted by TheGlitchmaster

The only legit person on G4 is Sessler. He needs to get out of there.

Posted by Hats

G4 is shocking I watch for info on the games and funny commentary not anyone's grandiose opinion on why derp is derp to derp or to look at women who are TV presenters who don't play games

Edited by fisk0

@ImperiousRix said:

Sadly, video games are a very male dominated industry at the moment.

The oddest thing is that it just barely is male dominated, on the consumer end it's getting really close to a 50-50 split (in Japan it seems it's almost exactly evenly split), if we count casual games (and I really don't see why we shouldn't), Consumer Electronics Association estimates 65% of American gamers are female, while the more conservative estimate, that doesn't count the casual market, signed Entertainment Software Association, is that 39% are female. But still, marketing and things like this E3 broadcast continues to act as if female gamers are the odd exception.

Edit: Oh, yes, those were 2007 numbers by the way, before the casual market really exploded.

Posted by JasonR86
@Apathylad said:

It's nothing new from them. Here's a G4 video. Over 13 million views:

STILL, a fantastic screen capture.  I don't care how sexist it was or how sexist I sound for saying that.  GREAT fucking screen capture.
Edited by PeasantAbuse
@PenguinDust said:

One of their high profile hosts, Sara Underwood, was Playmate of the Year, so yeah they concentrate on a specific demographic.  Sexuality sells and as much as all of us here on Giant Bomb might like to believe otherwise, the content on this site would not be enough to keep a 3rd rate cable network afloat.  So, G4 does what they have to in the hopes of breaking even and keeping their jobs.  I'm not so high minded to have a problem with it.  I know it's all fantasy and frivolity. 


It's THAT Sara Underwood?  I wish I would have watched E3 on G4, she is fucking gorgeous.
Posted by ImperiousRix
@fisk0 said:

@ImperiousRix said:

Sadly, video games are a very male dominated industry at the moment.

The oddest thing is that it just barely is male dominated, on the consumer end it's getting really close to a 50-50 split (in Japan it seems it's almost exactly evenly split), if we count casual games (and I really don't see why we shouldn't), Consumer Electronics Association estimates 65% of American gamers are female, while the more conservative estimate, that doesn't count the casual market, signed Entertainment Software Association, is that 39% are female. But still, marketing and things like this E3 broadcast continues to act as if female gamers are the odd exception.

Edit: Oh, yes, those were 2007 numbers by the way, before the casual market really exploded.

That really is surprising, and again it's because of the way things are marketed that it would seem that the audience is HUGELY skewed towards primarily males playing video games.  The casual market alone needs to be recognized and accepted into the mainstream, and that people who play video games are rational HUMAN BEINGS, not sex-starved males who are automatically drawn to and stimulated by anything with a semi-attractive female attached to it (even if that IS the case with a percentage of them).
Edited by PerfidiousSinn
@okoctothorpe said:

Another thing I noticed was that most of the women were very similar to one another. Andy Allo and Sarah Underwood's voices are both high-pitched and nasal. Their physical features are slightly different, but both are slender and were wearing revealing clothing. Shots of the G4 party were stocked with more-attractive-than average women wearing less clothing than average.
 
I thought I was the only one who noticed this! G4 seems to have a cloning facility where they mass produce attractive women and then throw them on television despite their total lack of knowledge about what they're even covering!

Online
Posted by Sparklykiss

Things like Game Crush just reinforce this as well. :/

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