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October 03, 2017


September 28 died Hugh Hefner (Hugh Hefner) – a man known throughout the world as the creator of Playboy. There are many oddities about this powerful old man and his life’s work, but we are primarily interested in the connection between the men’s magazine and the gaming industry. It is not limited to centerfold girls from the gangster series Mafia – from time to time the heroines of the games also got on the pages of the publication. Actually, Playboy drew attention to Lara Croft, Rain from BloodRayne, Mileena from Mortal Kombat and other “fake” girls as sex symbols of our time.

Lara Croft

If we talk about sex symbols associated with games, then the first athlete, beauty and tomb raider became famous in this field. And the better the graphics in the Tomb Raider series became, the more virtues his heroine gained in the eyes of the respectable public. Naturally, Hugh Hefner’s magazine could not ignore such a prominent phenomenon: in 1999, the editors arranged a photo shoot for model Nell McAndrew (Tracey Jane “Nell” McAndrew), who, on behalf of the Eidos publishing house, acted as Lara at E3 1998.Playboy Game Heroines: Exposure Magic

Nell McAndrew in character and on the cover of that same August issue.

So on the cover of Playboy appeared the official face of Miss Croft at that time, along with the attributes of the franchise. Everything would be fine, but they forgot to ask the Eidos management. The company opposed the public exposure of Lara Croft: the model was immediately deprived of the right to portray the robber at events, and the Playboy editors were forced to cover the Tomb Raider sign with a sticker in court. But the trouble is the beginning.

Sickle on the Nazi

Lara is our everything, but, you see, there is still a difference between real and virtual models. The first CGI lady to hit the pages of Playboy was the Nazi-exterminating vampire girl Rain. It was her image in 2004 that illustrated the five-page article Gaming Grows Up (“Games grow up”) – for the gaming section of the publication, the material turned out to be unusually voluminous. And its content is easy to guess from the title.Playboy Game Heroines: Exposure Magic

Armed and dangerous.

For the magazine, this was a bold move: it was not the first time for Playboy photographers to undress live girls, but until then only narrow-profile resources dared to do the same with virtual ones. That’s why Rain’s encounter with high-circulation gloss was discussed far beyond the gaming community. True, after the rupture of the covers, the franchise failed and eventually slipped into the two-dimensional BloodRayne: Betrayal – this is not to mention the work of Uwe Boll, whose films sent the girl with fangs and blades even further.

No faces

Rain’s roommate in the October 2004 issue is not by chance popular among female cosplayers. After all, with a rather immodest outfit, one of the most charming heroines of Mortal Kombat, Milina, is usually portrayed with a covered face. The fact is that she was cloned from another battle woman, Kitana, by the sorcerer Shang Tsung, but he miscalculated somewhere – and as a result, Milina’s face came out disfigured. But what scope for the imagination of fans!Playboy Game Heroines: Exposure Magic

Pinape and Mortal Kombat X.

Unlike Rain, the lady from the fighting game didn’t strip naked – she covered her chest with sai tridents, her weapon of choice. But the very fact of the appearance of a toothy girl on the pages of Playboy eloquently testifies to her merits. Although, it would seem, there are enough expressive characters in Mortal Kombat even without it.

Come on all together

The success of the publication with virtual heroines prompted the editors of the magazine to go for a second round. Hugh Hefner’s team took the bull by the horns – contacted the largest game publishers, released the Playboy: The Mansion simulator for the PlayStation 2 (and Ubisoft acted as the publisher in Western Europe) and a number of adapted materials for the novelty of that time, PSP. The latest project, not without irony, was called PlayboyStation Portable – this included photos and videos for viewing on a portable console. Naturally, without completely nudity.

The situation has changed radically: if in the late 90s Eidos opposed the use of Lara Croft in an erotic context, then in 2005 the bigwigs of the gaming industry saw the possibility of additional PR here. “Last year we sold a new concept. The rise in advertising and reviews has resulted in companies lining up in front of our door. I even had to turn down six or seven offers,” Playboy Editor-in-Chief Scott Alexander told reporters.

Playboy Game Heroines: Exposure Magic

Carla Valenti card and October 2005 Playboy issue.

As a result, Carla Valenti from Fahrenheit, Cassidy and Tala from the shooter Darkwatch: Curse of the West, reporter Alexa from 50 Cent: Bulletproof, Avalon from Hellgate: London and other female characters flashed in the October 2005 issue. However, they were treated very cunningly: naked girls were placed on eight collectible cards, which differed from copy to copy. Two versions of the same magazine came out, “orange” and “red”, and if you wanted to collect the whole set, you had to buy both. But, by combining all the cards, their lucky owner received an additional, ninth image.

Nothing is sacred

In the December 2007 issue, Playboy took a new frontier with its MMO heroine section. We’re talking about Sarah Morrison from Richard Garriott’s Tabula Rasa, the creator of Ultima’s now-forgotten attempt to combine RPG, shooter and online, and Kier from Age of Conan. In addition to this couple, the same number pleased the fans of Clive Barker’s Jericho: the editors of the magazine depicted naked girls from the Jericho special squad. As you can see, all the virtual heroines depicted in Playboy have a strong, combative, explosive character. Such people will stop a galloping horse, and enter a burning hut. But in December 2009, the publication abandoned this stereotype.Playboy Game Heroines: Exposure Magic

Tabula Rasa of a healthy person.

Because it was then that gaming ladies appeared on its pages without pretensions to heroism. If you can still argue about the journalist from Heavy Rain Madison Paige and Beatrice from Dante’s Inferno, then Hecuba is a character in God of War III who is subjected to total humiliation. God Poseidon keeps the ex-wife of the Trojan king on a chain, and the mighty Kratos drags her with him like a dog. The episode involving Hecuba and her role in the GoW universe in itself caused a wave of outrage, but after discussing the situation, Playboy editors nevertheless decided to use her image. Well, as an image – mostly the body.

Exposure magic session

The magazine has a special history with The Witcher series. Back in 2007, the dryad Morenn, one of Geralt’s possible mistresses in the role-playing game The Witcher, was captured in gloss. And in May 2011, Triss Merigold, another monster slayer romantic interest, hit the pages of the Polish edition of Playboy. The case of the red-haired sorceress is rather unusual, because before her, the heroines of the games were presented as fake girls and always went in the thematic section. Triss was treated like a living model – they put her on the cover and gave her a full-fledged “photo shoot”.Playboy Game Heroines: Exposure Magic

Isn’t that what you were thinking when launching the Polish RPG? Of course not, because the main thing in games is gameplay.

The Merigold example is not unique. Feeling that the idea worked one hundred percent, the Poles repeated the experience with the female characters from Sniper: Ghost Warrior 3 in the sixth issue of 2017. The only difference is that to create these illustrations, it took more computer graphics and live models dressed (or rather, undressed) in accordance with the action movie setting. It’s unlikely to end there, so sleep well, Mr. Hefner.

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