Saints Row dev denounces THQ porn star marketing focus

Monday, 5 August 2013 23:18 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Although she is full of praise for Saints Row’s inclusivity, associate producer Kate Nelson has publicly criticised THQ’s use of porn stars in marketing the franchise.

“I did not always love how much THQ put an emphasis on porn stars,” Nelson told EDGE.

“In Saints Row 2 and Saints Row 3 there was an emphasis on the penthouse girls, and earlier Tera Patrick. I think it’s important in marketing games to make sure that the essence of the game is what’s being marketed, and I think the porn star angle didn’t really fit in with what Saints Row is at heart, which is a parody. We like to poke fun.”

Nelson said some Volition staffers “didn’t appreciate” THQ’s marketing suggestion that Patrick was a “special producer” on Saints Row 2.

“Saying that someone who had no industry experience was in a role that is sexualised as a producer of our project, or saying the penthouse girls are our QA staff,” she explained.

“I can see the humour in that angle of promotion but for me that’s the line where it gets into reality.”

It’s an interesting point – if marketing leverages sexist tropes, it does rather undermine the parodic nature of the product it’s selling. Which is a bit of a shame, as Nelson argued that whatever other faults it might have the Saints Row series has at least one inarguably progressive piece of female representation – its robust character customisation suite.

“You can be an important female character – you don’t have to have a D cup either. You can be large woman, a small woman – you can be blue,” she said.

“You can be who you want to be in the game and you have powerful female characters written into the narrative. I think our game actually does represent women in a positive way, but the press will focus on, oh hey, there are strippers, or there’s a dildo bat – it’s unfortunate from my perspective that that doesn’t come through.

“Because I hear women talk on panels and they’re like ‘there are no people that look like me in games’. Well, actually in my game [the main character] can look like you as our customisation system is so extensive. We don’t get that across in our marketing or in the press because it’s difficult – we only have 30 seconds to explain.”

The next Saints Row game is due on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 at the end of the month.

Thanks, OXM.

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