Ubisoft: Ubi, Uber, Uni

Ubisoft: Ubi, Uber, Uni
Frag Doll on Frag Dolls

Joe Blancato | 15 Aug 2006 08:02
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Ubisoft has pretty much abandoned the notion of the Frag Dolls as a girl-gaming clan; the U.K. branch hasn't attended a gaming competition in the year it's existed (the American branch competes sporadically, usually playing Ubisoft titles), and according to Eaglemere, "the [U.K.] Frag Dolls themselves would agree that they are not a clan." However, in that year, they've made it out to numerous conventions to promote new Ubisoft games, where Eaglemeare recalls one particular incident at a King Kong launch party: "[We] were told to stand in front of the demo pods in the hall and try to lure drunk guests into playing. I felt more like a booth babe than a gamer."

The U.S. branch operates in a similar manner. Go to a convention where the Frag Dolls are in attendance and you'll find beautiful, painted faces throwing T-shirts to crowds of young men; few women flock to them as gaming idols.

Working in such a way - talking only about games sanctioned by the company, enticing drunken gamers to play games on kiosks - finally got to Eaglemeare. She decided to leave the Frag Dolls because "I just felt increasingly dishonest to myself. I have a true love for games, and in the end, I'd had enough of being made a marketing tool."

Since then, she's formed a community of her own, WeAreVersus. There, she blogs about the games she chooses in the way she chooses with her friend, "Vixen." She's obviously affected by the time she spent as a Frag Doll; on their "About Us" page, they say: "We're not here to endorse any product or sell you anything. If we say it, it's because we mean it, not because it pays our wage.

"In our experience 'promoting girl gamers' can often be used as the cover story of big business trying to widen its market whilst still getting some pretty faces in the magazines. In other words: Free advertising."

Eaglemeare and Vixen want to keep their new endeavor gender-neutral, but in such a sexually-charged industry, the very fact they have pictures and videos of themselves playing games is going to make that difficult for a lot of gamers. To their credit, they don't play up to their femininity; in fact, Eaglemeare thinks doing so damages the industry's credibility: "We don't see [gender] as a factor that needs to be labored upon. More and more girls are becoming interested in gaming, which is great, but I really don't think there is any need for some big crusade to attract more women to the field. Constantly drawing attention to the fact that 'girl gamers' are [a] minority, you only encourage segregation between the genders."

Butts agrees. "Knowing what the Frag Dolls have to do [every day] makes them look dirty."

Do operations like the Frag Dolls cause a rift between genders? If anything, they're drawing them together, but not in the healthiest of ways. On message boards spanning the internet, people of both genders seem more than happy to unite together in distaste for this particular blend of sex and advertising. And to their credit, the Frag Dolls have done a heck of a job of bringing girl gamers out in droves. Unfortunately for Ubisoft - and for the women like Jade Eaglemeare, who just wanted to talk about games - they're not buying into the vision.

(Editor's note: We attempted to contact Ubisoft for their side of the Frag Dolls story, but they were unavailable for comment.)

The Escapist, a shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist. Joe Blancato, a young Associate Editor on a crusade to champion the cause of the innocent, the powerless, the helpless in a world of criminals who operate above the law.

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