Porn promotion not appreciated, says Saints Row dev

Porn promotion not appreciated, says Saints Row dev
Seth Tipps

By Seth Tipps

August 7th 2013 at 7:21AM

Use of porn stars to advertise game went against spirit of satire

The use of porn stars to promote Saints Row goes against the spirit of the game as a satire, says associate producer Kate Nelson.

Saints Row has long been on the extreme end of the gaming scene for its use of ludicrous sexuality and violence, and in the past this has lead games marketers to contract porn stars like Tera Patrick and the penthouse girls for promotional materials.

“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.”

This idea – poking fun of serious issues in society – draws a lot of fire today, but is as old as comedy and has roots in the comedic writings of Aristophanes, Chaucer, and Shakespeare, whose social commentary is still valued centuries later.

But games marketers aren't paid to create cultural dialogue through satire, they're paid to sell games, and the repeated use of women as marketing tools strikes a sour not with many in the industry.

While satire can certainly be valuable, many have criticized Saints Row for being over-indulgent, participating in the same misogynistic and violent culture it sets out to lampoon.

Nelson thinks her game avoids these pitfalls, and believes it's actually one of the more progressive titles on the market.

“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’” she said.

“Well, actually in my game [the main character] can look like you as our customization 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.”

Admitting this challenge of selling a game at a glace, Nelson thinks that THQ's decision to make Tera Patrick a 'special producer' on Saints Row 2 was over the line, and says it was move some Volition employees “didn't appreciate”.

“Saying that someone who had no industry experience was in a role that is sexualized as a producer of our project, or saying the penthouse girls are our QA staff - I just…I can see the humor in that angle of promotion but for me that’s the line where it gets into reality.”