"Boobs and rubes" and "What has Barry McCaffrey been smoking?"

Readers respond to stories by Wagner James Au and Katharine Mieszkowski.

Published May 23, 2001 7:00PM (EDT)

Read Wagner James Au's "Boobs and Rubes"

I can't help but think that Wagner James Au was the only one not having a good time at E3. The gaming industry is, and has always been, a male-oriented business, so why shouldn't their convention be a proper foil for their fan base? Why should the organizers of E3 set out to create the kind of candy-coated, teenybopper fest that Au was out to find, rather than a convention that their fan base could actually enjoy? Au seemed to miss the point, which is further reinforced by the fact that people at the conference were more preoccupied with the quality of the games than the qualities of the sideshows within the booths. Why, I must ask, did he decide to walk around baiting people into saying quotable things about the dancers at the show rather than concentrate on the games themselves? Even the female employee of God Games, who seemed to be a good target for a nice righteous quote, was enjoying herself there among her "brothers." She didn't seem to be in a "hostile working environment;" perhaps it just wasn't the perfect, glossy, fake plastic p.c. world of PC gaming Au was hoping to find at E3.

-- Eron Nicholson

I was confused and disappointed to see an article from the Economist accidentally posted under your name. Surely, no one at Salon honestly believes in the Holy Grail of mainstream acceptance?

Is the denigration of women deplorable? Sure. But the reasons have nothing to do with (a) the social characteristics of the perpetrators, or (b) whether or not it impedes an industry's quest for further filthy lucre.

Perhaps the author should consider the possibility that video game manufacturers are happy to be running a (merely!) $5 billion industry, and don't want or need mainstream acceptance.

-- David Leitch

The goings-on at E3 are certainly not unique to the gaming industry, even if Au would like us to think they are. Everyone from dentists to insurance salesmen has similar trade shows where the same sort of sexual depravity happens. The only difference between the salesmen and the geeks is that the geeks have more money to spend on their shows. You're going to find evidence of "social retardation" in any group of people, not just computer geeks. Ever hear of a top corporate executive swatting a female employee on the bum and making a crude comment? Not much, because their P.R. people handle them better. Au's disgust for the gaming industry and its fans is obvious, and the article is nothing more than a bitch-fest.

-- Ed Macauley

I agree with Wagner James Au that video gaming mostly finds its audience in young men with young men's interests: sex and violence.

But the clothing industry seems to scrape by despite the fact that most clothing is bought by women. And so, naturally, women's clothing stores (especially specialty shops for young women featuring saucy rags older women wouldn't touch) vastly outnumber men's clothing stores in malls.

Having a demographic leaning isn't hard on a lot of products. I doubt if the Geritol company worries about being in a "marketing ghetto."

And as for "impact on the larger culture," good Lord, who filled Au's head with the notion that video games were some kind of high art that shapes nations? Why did he listen?

I've played the odd video game since the Pong days and still play the odd one every few years, but I never imagined them in the same arena as film and sculpture.

-- Roy Brander

Hmmm ... if they must have scantily clad women, maybe they should simply add heroic and equally scantily clad men.

Actually, I see many parallels between the gaming world and the porn world (though I don't think this really counts as porn). People looking for stimulation ... escape from the mundane. So, let's add some men to the mix, too! :)

-- Todd Warner

As an avid gamer, I am greatly embarrassed by the utter misogyny which runs rife throughout the industry. Unfortunately, I believe the situation is very much as Mr. Au describes it. What began in the '70s as a men-only fraternity through the lack of women programmers has developed into an idiot's paradise, which drives away a growing population of tech-savvy women.

-- Michael B. English

Read Katharine Mieszkowski's "What has Barry McCaffrey been smoking?"

I was shocked to see Salon criticizing eGetgoing.com's efforts to use the drive of the private sector to make drug treatment more available and cost effective.

First, it is sad that Salon would allow its editorial grudges to get in the way of its reporting on an idea that has the potential to provide help and hope to possibly millions of Americans. The lack of adequate, cost-effective drug treatment programs is one of the most important shortcomings in how our nation deals with the drug problem. Salon itself has reported in great detail that the main reason for this gap is that more resources are needed for treatment programs. Now, a company comes along that wants to put money and the power of profit motive behind providing more treatment programs and you criticize it. Sad. I would have expected Salon to rise above petty, personal grudges and cover the issue in a more balanced manner.

Second, I find it ironic that Salon is now critiquing another online company's business acumen and practices. Salon has seen its share price plummet and its losses skyrocket. You have been forced to cut your workforce by roughly 20 percent. Now, you are even offering soft-porn -- a far cry from the highbrow journalism you started off with. Your management strength rating is -82.66 percent for return on assets and -102.37 percent for return on equity. Rather than criticize a proven leader like Gen. McCaffrey, you might consider hiring him to help you straighten out your own business problems.

-- Robert Housman

(Robert Housman is a former assistant director for strategic planning at the White House.)

By Salon Staff

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