In the Blog

“Jade Smells Pretty At London Games Fest”

November 17th, 2007     by Wesley Fok     Comments

I’m not sure how many of you own or play on an Xbox 360 or Playstation 3, but if you’re a rabid console gamer you’ve probably heard of Assassin’s Creed. For everyone else, here’s the scoop: Assassin’s Creed is a video game that has you playing a medieval assassin tasked with eliminating nine people associated with the Crusades. Assassin’s Creed is one of the biggest games this holiday season, with a big marketing push from publisher Ubisoft following months of hype. The game is projected to sell over a million copies in the next two months, an amazing feat considering only eleven Xbox 360 games have ever sold more than a million copies.

So why should you care if you’re not into video games? Well, if you’re a Shameless reader, you probably care about how women are faring in traditionally male-dominated industries, and guess what? The producer of Assassin’s Creed is Jade Raymond, a woman. Female game developers are nothing new; a lot of classics were conceived and designed by women. But Raymond’s profile is far higher than any woman before her, mainly because she’s been the public face of the game at a time when the video game audience is larger than ever before. This is both a blessing and a curse; while Raymond is easily the most visible woman in game development today, there’s a suspicion that Raymond’s been asked to promote the game so much because, well, look:

Jade Raymond, producer of Assassin’s Creed.

Which brings me to the utterly bizarre way video game audiences—especially younger male gamers—handle attractive women playing and developing video games. Everyone knows the stereotype of the nerd gamer with no social skills who quakes in fear of women. The truth, however, is just a bit creepier. Something about the intersection of “hot women” and “plays video games” creates in some gamers a strange emotional supernova that produces equal parts nerdish adoration, wanton sexual desire, and hateful bile.

First, let’s get to why she obviously can’t be a real game developer:

It would be nice if I could believe that she was the face of Assassin’s Creed because there was some merit, and not just because of her look. After E3 and the whole “Hah Hah Noone noticed him falling off that roof!” goof up, and articles like this where it’s more marketing speak than anything else, I’m convinced that it is because of her looks. I’m the type that would rather have a man (or a woman really) talk about pixel shaders, and bump mapping techniques etc, than sit and listen to a pretty face talk.

Then let’s make jokey comments about how hot she is:

I hope one can unlock sexy pictures of her in the game. I can dream…

And then we’ll get to the explicitly creepy:

In what is easily the best 3MB press release we’ve ever been mailed, Ubisoft sends word that Jade ‘really fit’ Raymond of Assassin’s Creed fame will be making a public appearance in London this Saturday. Gentlemen, prep your stalker kits.

There’s more—way more, in fact. I’ve been trying to figure out a good way to write up Jade Raymond for a while now, but luckily I don’t have to: Jane Pinckard from Game Girl Advance says it better than I ever could. Unfortunately, Pinckard made her post in response to some awful cartoons of Raymond posted to a couple of internet forums. This sort of thing isn’t exactly rare; software developer Kathy Sierra stopped posting to her widely read blog on software user interfaces after receiving sexually explicit insults, nasty photoshops and death threats.

The worst thing about this whole Jade Raymond business is that anyone who knows anything about gamers knew she would be the target of sexual innuendos and harsh commentary about her gamer cred, because this sort of thing happens all the time. Anyone who’s ever read a message board or listened to the voice chat on an online game has seen and heard more than their fair share of stupid and offensive remarks. What I haven’t yet been able to figure out is why some gamers are so puerile and hateful, and what needs to change so that I no longer have to worry about hearing people call each other fags or telling the German players to “speak American or get out” every time I play Team Fortress 2.

Tags: geek chic, media savvy

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