The Remote Play feature the PS4 shares with the PS Vita and Xperia Z series smartphones is a fun, if imperfect, little addition to the hardware's capabilities, especially when your TV needs some freeing up. We're glad it exists. But one of Sony's latest ads playing up the feature misses the mark by turning what should be fun into something a little sleazy. And what makes it worse is that Sony might be trying to do a halfway good thing here.
It should be noted first that Sony already pulled the ad from their YouTube channel, so it might have received some early criticism for running it. But we should still address it. Here, a sexy female doctor is, at first blush, seemingly accusing the viewer of masturbating a little too much. She pouts for the camera and delivers her lines in a sultry voice, peeling off her glasses like a pin-up vamp. And then she absolves the viewer of his shame, saying everyone's doing it, only to reveal that what everyone's doing is gaming. You can even do it with her. How nice.
Why is that doctor using an iMac G4?
The "everyone is a gamer" coda earns Sony some points. Still, the ad is problematic for a couple of reasons. For instance, why is the doctor mysteriously using an iMac G4? But most important is the messaging at play here. Our sexy doctor is pretty clearly designed to entice the straight teen male demographic gaming companies have been pandering to for decades. The innuendo makes that clear, even if Sony subverts it. That's alienating enough, since gaming has struggled so long for inclusivity. And even if the doctor merrily joins in on the fun (gaming, that is), it's after the fact — she's a sexy lady first and a gamer second, never fully eroding what the target always is. Now, there's nothing wrong with being sexy, but that sexiness is in service of a male audience that's fixed and behaves in a certain way.
Before you decide I'm overreacting, consider also: isn't it bizarre and a little offensive to insinuate that the average gamer (the one being addressed here) loves gaming to the point of fetish? As if loving Far Cry can be likened to jerking off onto your mother's azaleas? That's a terrible image to work with, too, and pretty dated if we concede we've made some progress in our collective ideas concerning gamers.
If the message is everyone is a gamer, treat them as equal gamers
The point is, if the message is that everyone is a gamer, treat them as equal gamers. The ad is an object lesson in why companies should think twice before running with a concept. But it's at least not as bad as their print ad from 2012, allegedly created by the same ad agency: