Some days, I really love my job.
Have you heard of Marina Orlova, aka HotForWords? She has two advanced degrees in philology, the study of words and their origins (I promised myself I'd say that part first) and is also one of the sexiest women on the internet. (This is official; just ask G4TV, who named her one of the sexiest five women on the web, or Wired.com, who dubbed her the #1 Sexiest Geek in the WORLD.)
She has her own website - http://www.hotforwords.com - a new book coming out, and one of the top 25 most frequently viewed channels on YouTube. English is the curvaceous Russian's second language, but she knows more about it than any native I know. Marina racks up (no pun intended) an additional 3.5 million views every week for her fun, risqué videos about the origins of language. She also happens to be the new Dragon Oath spokesmodel.
As a Community Manager, I have a lot of fun jobs related to Marina. She'll be appearing at our E3 booth (the ChangYou Chill Lounge) to sign autographs and promote the game, while wearing a costume from Dragon Oath. My first task related to Marina was to go through all of the game costumes and select one for our costume designer to create for her. Bikini bottoms are forbidden at E3 - all models must at least be wearing boyshorts - so I chose a gorgeous outfit with a bikini top, a blue skirt, and some pretty ribbons. She looks amazing in it. (By the way, I've seen Marina's measurements - yes, they're incredible, and no, I'm not telling!) Tomorrow, I get to buy her a cute pair of blue high heels to match the outfit. That's why I'm in such a good mood - as a female, I love shopping for shoes. Especially when I'm being paid by the hour.
So here's an interesting question raised by all of this. As mentioned before, E3 requires all female promoters to wear a certain amount of clothing. (These promoters are colloquially called "booth babes"; if you don't know what "colloquialiy" means, Marina can tell you.) E3's credibility took a hit over the "booth babe" controversy. Basically, a lot of companies were trying to compete to see who could have the least-dressed porn star draped lasciviously over their booth. (I'm sure Marina can also explain "lascivious.") So E3 responded by telling all promoters and spokesmodels to cover up.
I'm doubtful that this was the proper response. In fact, speaking as a feminist, isn't that a little offensive - to blame the bare flesh of the women as the cause of the problem? Shouldn't we be yelling at the executives whose exploitative attitudes caused this controversy? Or the American culture which encourages young women to hone their beauty at any cost, and then actively seek to be exploited by these companies?
One thing I am sure of is that Marina Orlova, HotForWords, is not part of the problem. She is articulate, brilliant, and charming, which is all the more endearing for her being nice to look at. Her flirtatious attitude and "scandalous" outfits have gotten millions of people to watch her videos, and learn about language in the process. On top of that, she is an honest-to-God gamer geek. How many E3 spokesmodels can say that - much less "booth babes"?
Maybe the solution isn't to cover the girls up, but to only promote games through partnerships with intelligent women who command respect no matter what they wear. As my boss told me once, "We will never have a 'booth babe' at this company who doesn't play video games." It's a simple way to state a complicated problem, but still - food for thought.
- Lucy Song,
Community Manager for Dragon Oath