For ChinaJoy, less thongs does not mean less throngs
Following the lead of the 2015 Shanghai Auto Show’s banning of sexy showgirls, this year’s ChinaJoy gaming expo has also decided to clean up their act by covering up its immodest models and fining any fleshly transgressions.
Among the many don’ts recently published by the event’s organizers, any booth babe showing over two centimeters of cleavage will be fined an exorbitant 5,000 yuan ($806.79), as will posing provocatively for photos with fans (10,000 yuan). The cleavage crackdown is part of an attempt to eliminate vulgarity from the public’s eye while refocusing attendees’ attention on the exhibits rather than the exhibitionists.
Since its inauguration in 2004, ChinaJoy has developed into Asia’s premier digital entertainment event. But as the expo has risen in popularity, so has the libidos of its attendees, many whom now come exclusively to get a glimpse of its showgirls’ goodies.
In the early years of ChinaJoy, models were just a small sideshow attraction of the main event – a fringe benefit for the fringes of society. But that all changed with the 2006 debut of Ding Beili, a young showgirl who became an overnight Internet sensation for her natural beauty.
Envious of Ding’s virtual celebrity, ChinaJoy showgirls in the following years tried to outdo each other by taking their cleavage down lower and lower and lifting their skirts higher and higher, to the delight of the droves of camerawielding attendees who, these desperate, surgically altered girls hoped, would also make them famous.
Realizing that there was a direct correlation with the growing lines of ticket buyers with the slimming waistlines of its scantily clad showgirls, event organizers quickly capitalized on their new reputation as a “feast of flesh” by making their models’ assets the expo’s main asset.
I myself was at the ChinaJoy 2014 and, based on the sheer amount of breasts, thighs and other exposed unmentionables I saw firsthand there, the event rightly earned its Chinese nickname Chai Naizhao, “taking off the bra.” One audacious company even held a raffle drawing, with the lucky winner receiving “erotic services” provided by a so-called showgirl. A condom came attached to the winning tickets.
Data from Enfodesk shows that, on average, over 90 percent of Chinese gamers are between 16 and 28 years old, with 20 percent of those only 16 to 18. Unlike the Shanghai Auto Show, whose customer base is largely comprised of older adults, a gaming expo like ChinaJoy is targeted at youngsters and students. As there is no age restriction at the event, it’s no surprise that over 40 percent of ChinaJoy visitors fall within the 16-22 age group. Between the games and the groins, the conference is a pubescent heaven.
Following the revealing news that the 13th annual ChinaJoy expo would be less, um, revealing, male-dominated social media let out a collective groan of despair. For those diaosi (a self-ascribed epithet to describe a young man who has no social life because he plays on the computer all day) looking forward to the upskirt and nipslip snapshots taken at this year’s ChinaJoy, surely it was a dark day.
But for exhibitors, less thongs does not exactly mean less throngs. On the contrary, despite the prudent dress code of this year’s Shanghai Auto Show, it still managed to attract 928,000 visitors, a new record. The initial apprehension of the lack of Gan Lulu’s headlights was swiftly replaced by a begrudging respect for returning the show to true car aficionados and re-focusing on innovation in the automobile industry.
I’m positive that gaming geeks will also eventually come to appreciate refocusing ChinaJoy on games rather than girls. But unlike the auto show, where showgirls were outright banned, booth babes will still be allowed at this year’s ChinaJoy, albeit with less flesh.
Which begs the question currently looming among diaosi: who will have the privilege of enforcing – and measuring – the new restrictions, and where can they apply for the job?