EB Games reinforces misogynistic stereotypes, claims it’s just a joke

4 Nov

Twitter has been back and forth with @ebgamesaus this morning over a video entitled “A Man’s Guide to Trading”. As well as being posted on the official EBGamesAU YouTube the video is being played in stores.

I’m sure most people reading this will instantly see what’s wrong with this video, but EB Games apparently does not.

The video games industry and culture is full of misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia, this is nothing new. But lately those of us inside this culture have had reason to feel that maybe things were getting a little better.

Recently Bioware was called out on a joke that came across to some as transphobic, and their response shows a clear understanding of the issue and a respect for their players. The president of Blizzard responded to community outrage at homophobic remarks in a video they played at their recent convention in a sincere manner that conveyed a high level of respect.

There are companies taking the issues faced by gaming culture seriously. Perhaps unsurprisingly EB Games is not one of those companies.

A mans guide to trading shows a married couple outside of an EB Games store. The man mentions that he’ll meet his wife at the supermarket, and she immediately rebukes him for his video game hobby and the money and time he spends on it.

He angrily goes into the store to purchase a game and the clerk explains that he’s overheard the argument, and that he should trade his old games instead of using cash. He does so.

The next scene shows him taking his wife out to dinner, proudly proclaiming that he had an extra hundo to spend on her.

The third and final scene is the man at home, on his couch, playing the purchased game. His wife enters with a feather duster and tells him not to worry, she’ll handle the cleaning and he should relax as he’s had a hard day.

So we have a video where the entire point seems to be that if you trade games at EB you’ll have more money to spend on your nagging wife and maybe she won’t nag you anymore. EB Games response when called out on this video?

“While I totally appreciate your concern, it was actually written BY a woman as a light hearted way to get our trade message across. There is actually a woman’s guide on its way as well. :)”

When pressed further they responded. “Right now you’re talking to a woman and a woman wrote the ad. I am very passionate about gender equality – but this is a light hearted joke. It really truly is. I apologise if you feel that it is anything else. :)”

The wife nags the husband, he spends money on her, and then she’s agreeable. Is this the light hearted joke EB Games?

Or is the joke that women are only interested in grocery shopping, eating, and dusting?

What makes Mad Men a good show that still contains sexism, as it is set in the 1960s, is not that it has female writers. It’s that the narrative condemns the sexism by showing the harm it causes. It’s that the female characters are strong and complex and have agency and fight back against the sexism.

It should go without saying that the gender, race, sexuality, and even intent of the author has nothing to do with the negative impact of the final work.

What is the woman’s guide to trading going to be? A girlfriend stealing her boyfriend’s copy of call of duty so she can trade it for wii fit?

Female gamers already have a huge barrier to entry in the social aspects of this hobby. Reinforcing negative stereotypes about women shows an ignorance of the issues faced every day by female gamers and EB Games response is disrespectful to its female customer base.

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3 Responses to “EB Games reinforces misogynistic stereotypes, claims it’s just a joke”

  1. GiantGuineaPig November 4, 2011 at 1:44 am #

    This all really depends on how you read the advert. To me it’s an over the top joke, but others (and I’m not saying rightly or wrongly) see it as saying ‘this is what all men and women do’. It’s meant as a joke scenario and I don’t see any part of it that implies that this is the norm. It could have been done better or more obvious.

    EBGames will end up apologizing of course to appease the public and it’ll be forgotten. Often there’s such a fine line between sexism and a joke.

    • hategames November 4, 2011 at 2:34 am #

      For me, and a lot of other people obviously, the issue is that the message of the video matters, or is problematic, because it is a message often echoed in the real world.

      I’m not suggesting that everyone will get the same thing out of the video but to many male gamers who already clearly a hold a view that women do not belong in gaming culture this video serves to reinforce and bolster pre-existing negative opinions of women. Opinions such as women all being nags, women being responsible for grocery shopping in a relationship, that it’s okay to laze about so long as you take your woman out for a meal. That women become nicer after you spend money on them. In fact I’m kind of surprised they were able to fit so much in to such a short video!

      Further it sends a message to women that they already get in real life: you’re here to cook and clean, you don’t belong in this hobby, and male gamers are frustrated with your attitudes.

      EB Games response further sends a message that complaints about sexism aren’t wanted or taken seriously in the industry and their comment about having a female writer suggests a misunderstanding of feminism to begin with.

  2. finaleve November 4, 2011 at 2:40 am #

    Watched it. Didn’t laugh. I’m the type of guy who finds humor in all things, no matter how dark or wrong it might be (except dead baby jokes, mostly because it’s just dumb retorts).

    I think I see where the intention of the ad was going but the whole concept was thrown out the window with how the female was portrayed. Female gamers are growing in numbers. The fact that people do this hinders sales, and the bigger the loss in sales, the bigger the problems the world will have (job cuts, lack of good games, etc).

    If the response to the video wasn’t “hey, a girl wrote this so it’s alright” I’m sure there wouldn’t be a problem. However, that is not the case.

    Their response should have been “We apologize for our video if you found this offensive. Our intention was to send the trade message across. We meant no harm.” Instead, we have this debacle…

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