In case you aren’t familiar, Good Old Games (GOG) is a website that makes classic PC games available free of DRM. GOG is currently having a holiday sale. GOG is looking to promote their site and their sale by giving away 20 limited-edition t-shirts.
Naturally, the very best, smartest slogan to put on said t-shirt is, “I like it cheap and unprotected”.
I’m growing impatient for the day to arrive when marketing a site aimed at a general gamer audience will no longer default to marketing exclusively to over-sexed, under-touched men. Because that’s what they’re saying about you, gentlemen — that you correlate your personal sex life with video games, and that you do it so strongly, the two deserve the same terminology.
The “unprotected” in particular is a broad reference to condom use — it is not common vernacular to say, “use protection” in reference to oral contraceptives, or even (sadly) in reference to dental dams. “Unprotected” sex generally means sex without a condom, condoms are generally put onto penises, and those with penises generally identify as men.
And that is where this “clever” promotional tool completely breaks down for me, because it is literally wrong. Games free of DRM aren’t “unprotected”, because DRM isn’t “protection”. And you know that, I know that, everyone who spends any time or money on GOG.com knows that. Condoms are tools that allow those who use them to exert control over their own bodies and safety. They give users choice. DRM is *literally the opposite kind of tool*, in that it removes the user’s choice over how to interact with their own property. There is no witty analogy to be made between the two, and I can’t imagine anyone who’s negotiated safe sex with a partner wouldn’t pick up on that.
GOG, please stop underestimating the size, diversity, and intelligence of your audience. I’m not the only person who’s noticed that your shirt is problematic at best; Godless Heathen has written a great post unpacking some of the ways this shirt is triggering and/or offensive for various members of the gaming community. I realize that some of the members of the GOG community like the shirt — they’re being very vocal about it in the comments of the post announcing the shirt. But I also love the classic PC games you offer, and I hate DRM, and based on your business model that makes me a member of your community, too. And so this is me letting you know, in a forum that provides just a *little* bit more safety and respect for dissenting opinions than the average comment thread, that I think your shirt is poorly thought out and not even saying whatever cute thing you’re trying to say about gaming and sex. I think you can do better, and I think the time to start doing better is right now.
If you’d like to let GOG know that you’ve got a problem with their marketing tools and message, I’d encourage you to contact them directly here, rather than attempting to engage in the comments.