Marketers might view mobile phone gaming as the future but many of the firms behind the games appear stuck in the dark ages when it comes to attitudes towards women, following a raft of rulings by the ad watchdog.
First in the dock was a paid-for Twitter ad for Oasis Games’ “Refantasia: Charm and Conquer”(pictured). Under the caption “Ah! Master! I kept wondering when I would see my master again! And here you are!” an anime-style image featured a young woman in a cage.
She was knelt facing away from the viewer, looking back over her shoulder. She wore shorts and a vest-top, both torn, and had a long, bushy tail and rabbit-like ears. She had metal shackles on her wrists and ankles. Large text on the image stated “You little girl, I won’t let you run away again.”
In response to an ASA investigation, Oasis Games said it was a Chinese company which published games internationally, and had conducted an investigation which “revealed a disconnect between their marketing team and their localisation team” which it had now “taken action to address”.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the watchdog was not impressed, ruling that the way the character was depicted, including her clothing, pose, expression and the setting, was sexual in nature.
The sexual nature of the image was emphasised further by the caption referencing “my master” and the text over the image which stated “You little girl I won’t let you run away again”.
Ultimately the ASA banned the ad and warned Oasis Games after concluding it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and included a gender stereotype in a way that was likely to cause harm and was socially irresponsible.
A second Twitter ad, this time for a game titled “King’s Throne: Game of Conquest”, featured an animation of two women wearing lingerie standing next to missing letter quizzes.
One quiz displayed the letters “D_CK”, with the letters “O”, “U”, “I” and “E” underneath, and a hand hovering over the letters to select one. In another the quiz displayed the letters “_I_S” and the options “TITS”, “RIVS”, “TIPS” and “LIPS” appeared underneath with a hand hovering over to select an answer.
The ASA said: “We considered that the ad portrayed the two women as stereotypical sexual objects for the purposes of titillating those who saw it. The references to ‘conquest’ and ‘Royal Delights’ in the names of the games further emphasised that.
“We concluded that the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, included a gender stereotype in a way that was likely to cause harm and was socially irresponsible.”
Finally an in-app ad for the mobile game Legend City, seen in the Airline Commander: Flight Game opened with a still image of the porn actress Mia Malkova, wearing an off-the-shoulder blouse and leather trousers, looking over her shoulder at the camera in a suggestive manner.
To the right of the image were four boxes, two of which contained silhouette images of a woman’s body in sexually suggestive poses and two had padlock symbols in them. These could be unlocked to revealed more suggestive images depending on how many likes were achieved.
The video then depicted a further still image of Ms Malkova, dressed in a revealing cowgirl outfit, as on-screen animations showed money and fireworks floating around her.
Upholding the complaint, the ASA said: “We considered that the ad depicted Ms Malkova in a sexualised manner. While she was clothed, we considered that the style of clothing, and the pose she assumed, was likely to be seen as sexualised and suggestive. That impression was further reinforced by the images in the boxes next to her on the screen, which contained silhouettes of a woman’s figure in poses which were also sexually suggestive.
“Overall, while we regarded the ad as only mildly sexually suggestive, we considered that portraying a woman in that way, for no other reason than to promote an online game, objectified her by presenting her as a sexual object with the sole purpose of titillating viewers.”
Shenzhen Yuedong did agree to change the ad, although not before getting a stiff rebuke from the ASA which also warned the firm about its future conduct.
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