This is the first in a series of blog posts on a sensitive subject: The Inverse Rule of Gaming!
What is the Inverse Rule of Gaming you ask? Well, I am here to tell you! Let’s start with some basics.
The Inverse Rule of Gaming: The Theory
First, game designers and publishers have some idea about how “good” their game is going to be once it is released. They have some knowledge of the quality of the materials, the quality and clarity of the rules, the overall presentation, the complexity of the game, the enjoyment of the game, etc. Much like any economic “good” or “product” if you prefer, be it a car, a shovel, a song, a piece of art, or a board game, the producer of that good has some estimation of the overall quality.
Second, game designers and publishers seek to have their game as profitable as possible. This is a business, and making profits allows game designers to eat and feed their families and game publishers to survive and grow. Thus, game designers and publishers would like to sell as many units of their game as possible.
Third, marketing is one way to both inform and entice consumers to buy your product. You must have an enticing message in order to lure in customers in a crowded marketplace. This message can take many forms and contain any sort of information that might lure or convince a consumer to purchase the item.
Fourth, and here is a basic tenet of the board game industry: most of the consumers are male. Yep, still the truth. It is changing as more females have become board game consumers, and maybe someday there will be an equal number of male and female consumers. But right now, this is not true, and in the past it has been even more lopsided. If you haven’t been to a convention or visited a game store, check it out. When my wife walks into a game store with me, the place still grinds to a halt as the male gamers turn to look.
Fifth, let’s combine a number of facts to arrive at this point: one way to market to males is to use female flesh. Yep, throw a picture of a female, especially an attractive or undressed female, near your product advertising and bam! the male brain goes haywire. Studies have shown that the male ability to do long-term planning drops and the need to satisfy a short-term interest goes up when men are exposed to such marketing. Thus, should I spend $60 on that game when I need that money to pay bills quickly turns into “I got to buy it!” when a salacious picture appears next to or on the product. There are many variations of this marketing trick: have actual women promote the product, using female voice-overs on radio, etc.
Sixth, the use of female flesh marketing often is utilized to cover up a lack of quality in a product. Think of this tactic as a last resort. If the producer cannot sell you on any particular quality of the product, there is still the possibility that they can get you to buy it by short-circuiting your brain with women.
If you do not believe me, surely you have seen the Game of War: Fire Age commercials with Kate Upton, right?!?
Does that “armor” really look like it would protect Miss Upton in this battle? And how many women engaged in Middle Ages combat anyway? And even if they did, were they dressed like Miss Upton? I don’t think so!
Now, mind you, I have never played Game of War: Fire Age even once. But why would I?!? Clearly they are trying to lure me in with a buxom blonde babe. How good could the game actually be?
The Inverse Rule of Gaming: Definition
And this gets us to the point of this blog: the Inverse Rule of Gaming. We can now clearly define it:
- Definition: The more female flesh and/or salacious images used to market a board game/table-top game/RPG/war game/etc, the more likely the game is poor.
In other words, if a game gets marketed to the public using the “female flesh” marketing technique, there is a greater chance that the game is below average and that the marketing is intended to cover it up.
In my alter ego, in other words my non-gamer blog persona, I am a social scientist. So…I will now turn to Science for answers!!!!!
Now I formulate a clear research hypothesis and null hypothesis:
- H1 (my research hypothesis): The more salacious the advertising, the more likely the game is below average
- H0 (the null hypothesis): The level of salacious advertising is not related to the quality of the game
This is indeed an important object of study. In short, does the game industry follow the basic trend of other industries aimed at male consumption? Does the Inverse rule hold or is the gaming industry different?
Next: Part II — The Research Design
In a forthcoming blog (Part II), I outline my research method to operationalize my variables (salaciousness and quality) and my sampling method to collect my data. In Part III, I present some initial findings. In Part IV, I complete the entire analysis and present my final conclusions.
Be there or be square!