We had a wealth of responses to rAge this year. For as many people who attended, you will get as many and varied opinions, something evidenced in our staff post with all our views. It’s a gaming expo for families, adults and everything in between, and it has grown to include all manner of geeky awesomeness including fantastic cosplay and a really cool flea market. However, one exhibitor grabbed some attention this weekend and maybe for unexpected reasons.
The Attraction Academy had a stand at rAge. It quickly grabbed attention from male and female gamers alike wondering what it was all about. If you check out their site, they explain that it isn’t about teaching pick up lines, but that they seek to teach the tools and skills men need to approach, connect with and develop attraction with women. As such, they say that numbers game and seduction science manipulation traditionally employed by pick up artists isn’t quite applicable (even though that’s really exactly what it is), but they do make some rather specific promises.
With our extensive experience and after being mentored and trained by the worlds number 1 Attraction Specialist and Dating Coach, our theoretical seminars and practical training courses are designed to increase your confidence and assist you in meeting, connect with, attract, building lasting relationships and dating exceptionally beautiful and high- quality women.[…] What makes The Attraction Academy unique is that we teach ‘Natural Game’; which allows our students to reach levels of success with women without using generic pick up lines. Instead, you will develop an underlying understanding of the female psyche, which allows the women to become deeply attracted to the best version of yourself.
Despite my profound disgust at the phrasing surrounding “exceptionally beautiful and high-quality women” (as compared to all those low-quality women?), the site does say that it’s not about using lines but rather becoming a best version of yourself. It even goes so far as saying that this will improve overall confidence, helping men to improve their business abilities and social life in general. All of that does, indeed, sound great for anyone. There are enough people in this world who need help with social skills, and self-help gurus can help some of them. In fact, they are even looking at making a master class for ladies, although there are apparently some issues around societal expectations that need to be overcome – don’t worry, I’m not touching that aspect of this situation with a ten-foot pole.
However, my objection about the presence of The Attraction Academy at rAge is two-fold. First, I find their sales pitch, tone and phrasing to be rather offensive towards women; it’s predatorial, misogynistic and pretty damned creepy. Second, I don’t feel that they belonged at rAge. I’m not going to go into too much depth on the first point because that is purely a personal thing, but I will let you listen to a sample chapter from one of their master classes. The psychology behind it is sound, but the phrasing of it makes it sound like the men are fooling women into agreeing to a first date and manipulating them into getting further. Again, the psychology is sound and is similarly often used in marketing and sales guides, but the tone makes my skin crawl.
During rAge, Sam from Tech Girl and I went to go chat to The Attraction Academy about what they offer and why they were at the expo. You can hear that chat over on our podcast, here. To be clear, I have no problem with people meeting up for casual sexual encounters if that’s what both parties are after. What does distress me is for someone to sell their CD based on the prospect of getting more sex with any and every woman, which is exactly what I heard in the sales pitch to the young man talking to Ryan before the podcast began. This kind of pitch feels predatory to me, either selling a false promise to the young man buying the CD, or promoting disingenuous encounters with women if you follow their techniques.
The most disturbing part of their presence at rAge was how it played on the stereotypes of gamers as being primarily straight male, socially under-skilled cretins who need to be taught how talk to women and get laid. Sure, there are plenty of men and women who fit into the stereotype of being in need of some lessons in social interaction and (based on the smell in the Dome) hygiene. However, there are also plenty of people who play video games who have social skills and have already found meaningful relationships with partners.
I’m going to assume that the guys from The Attraction Academy are unaware of the changes going on in the gaming industry, that they simply didn’t know that people are more aware of the cisheteronormative issues in stereotypes and all the hard work that gamers, developers and media have done to change perceptions about gamers and gaming. However, I can’t imagine that the rAge organizers are unaware of the industry, which is why I reached out to Michael James, the Senior Project Manager and general head honcho for rAge, to ask him about their inclusion in the expo.
What sort of criteria do you have for inviting or allowing companies or services to exhibit at rAge?
Just to clarify, we don’t invite exhibitors to be at the expo – they make an enquiry to exhibit and pay to be there. We don’t allow alcohol or cigarette sales, nor do we allow sexually explicit content that is rated 18+.
Why was the Attraction Academy allowed/invited to rAge 2015?
When they made an enquiry to be an exhibitor at rAge we checked that their content didn’t contravene any of the criteria I mentioned above. We asked them about the suitability of their material and reminded them that rAge is a family show, and all their answers satisfied me with regards to what they would be displaying at their booth.
He goes on to explain that rAge is definitely still a family show and that they even host organizations like the FPB to show their commitment to protecting kids while gaming continues to grow. He believes that companies like The Attraction Academy might even help improve the way people treat each other online and off.
It’s always easy to jump on these things and look for the negatives, but consider the scenario where just one person who might have previously and thoughtlessly made an inappropriate comment to women online now won’t, because he was informed that behaving like that isn’t right.
Also, for clarification’s sake, Sam and I were incorrect in our numbers of female attendees at rAge. According to Michael James, the rAge audience is closer to 60% male. While I’m sure he has a better sense of his demographic than either of us do, I think some of you could agree with our estimates based on the sheer number of women and couples visible at rAge, and I’m curious how the demographic would shift if it includes or excludes those who attend the LAN.
I understand where the rAge organizers are coming from. There is nothing explicit in the marketing material on show from The Attraction Academy, and I suppose as long as they applied and paid whatever it cost to have their stand, that’s about it as far as the organizers are concerned. However, it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It perpetuates the very same stereotypes that gamers of all walks of life are seeking to change, plus I can’t imagine that any women who saw the stand felt particularly comfortable as a result.
Companies are welcome to market themselves in whatever venues and ways that they think will be most worthwhile, and I’m sure they had a rather successful weekend at rAge. It just still makes my skin crawl; both as a woman, and as a gamer.
Last Updated: October 13, 2015