We know quite well by now that Penny Arcade and the organisers of every PAX event don’t look too happily on booth babes at their conventions. They’ve been questing for the removal of them entirely from events, using their own platform as a starting point. But occasionally, something slips by, and at PAX Australia, it happened at the World of Tanks booth.
World of Tanks had one of the biggest presences in the expo hall, its booth space including as many screens crammed in as possible, massive red carpets, and a full tank on display. It was already quite a spectacle. But there were booth babes as well, women in short, tight red dresses and military attire. Questions began to form on Twitter: ‘I thought PAX was against booth babes at their shows – what gives?’
In a media Q&A with Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins, the founders of Penny Arcade, the question naturally sprang up, and the two were more than eager to let their feelings on the matter be known.
‘Yeah, I actually asked about that last night,’ Krahulik responded. ‘I was walking through the exhibition hall [on Saturday] and it was the first time I’d seen them – and in my head I definitely registered them as a booth babe. And so I asked…and apparently on Friday they were, it was worse, and so we asked them to put some clothes on, so what you saw yesterday was actually pretty good.’
Krahulik explained that event organisers asked the women to put on leggings. ‘I guess that helps.’
The two seemed disappointed that this had happened at their event, and talked about the difficulties they face dealing with exhibitors who don’t treat the issue as seriously as Penny Arcade does, event after event. ‘It’s such a part of shows,’ Krahulik said. ‘It’s so common that exhibitors don’t understand. A lot of times we’ll say “no booth babes!” and they’ll say “okay (Krahulik imitates them chuckling).” And then when they get here we’re like “hey, put some clothes on,” and they’re like “what?! I don’t understand”. It’s a constant thing that we have to work on.’
‘They think we don’t mean it,’ Holkins added, ‘and they’re wrong.’ He believed that exhibitors treat booth babes as part of a ‘checkbox’, a list of things and features to have when exhibiting at conventions. There’s an assumption that’s it’s become a requirement. But it isn’t necessary. ‘It’s like, motherfucker, you have a tank! That’s plenty. I don’t have to see a tank and a leg. I am perfectly satisfied with your awesome tank in terms of spectacle. That’ll do.’ And we’d certainly argue for the truth in that claim – a giant replica tank is more than enough to draw attention to your booth and your game.
Holkins sees the situation as an educational procress. ‘It’s something that we have to teach them, and we’ll continue to educate them. They have their own culture that they bring to shows, and we have to battle it every year, and we have to alter the rules every year. It’s the same old thing.’ So while booth babes continue to be an issue for Penny Arcade and PAX, Krahulik and Holkins aren’t ready to give up.
Did you see the World of Tanks booth babes? Did you find them inappropriate? Is a tank enough of a spectacle?