May 10, 2006

Video game “booth babes” forced to cover up

By Daisuke Wakabayashi

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Missing: scantily-clad females
hawking the latest in electronic toys for the boys.

The video game industry's annual trade show in Los Angeles
opened its doors to its exhibitors on Wednesday with organizers
ordering women staffing the booths to cover up or face a $5,000

Banned are nudity, partial nudity, bikini bottoms or any
sexually explicit or provocative conduct, according to the
handbook from The Entertainment Software Association, or ESA,
which owns and operates the E3 Expo.

Pauline K, who declined to give her last name, wore a white
shredded tank top with an exposed midriff, short mini skirt and
knee-high leggings as she handed out fliers for a company that
makes custom face plates for Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox 360 game

She said another of the models received a warning from show
organizers for showing too much skin. "Apparently her cleavage
was a little too distracting," she said.

In January, the ESA outlined tough new penalties to enforce
decency rules. Exhibitors get a verbal warning for a first
violation and a second violation carries a $5,000 fine.

"Last year there were a lot of complaints about how the
models were beyond, in many cases, what was decent," said ESA
President Douglas Lowenstein on Monday.

Despite the new rules, there was no shortage of exposed
skin, patent leather and knee-high boots. Many exhibitors
dressed women like video game heroines and there was a group of
women wearing sexy nurses' outfits.

"They're wearing slightly more clothes this year," said
Gail Salamanica, an exhibitor at the show, "But not much."

(Additional reporting by Lisa Baertlein and Kemp Powers)