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Male models skirt tech event's showgirl limits

2012-07-26 17:36 Shanghai Daily     Web Editor: Zang Kejia comment

Besides bikini-clad girls, visitors to ChinaJoy 2012, opening to the public today, will find new characters in the spotlight: foreign male models and cross-dressers known as weiniang.

More male models will appear in the biggest game fair in Asia after ChinaJoy organizers cracked down on "vulgarity" by limiting the number of showgirls exhibitors can use and how they are dressed.

China Digital Entertainment Expo and Conference (ChinaJoy), which celebrates its 10th anniversary, is labeled as the No. 1 annual game fair in the country but it's more notorious for scantily dressed showgirls who dance and pose at booths in bras and hot pants.

But the welcome for showgirls was wearing thin with organizers of the show, including government agencies like the General Administration of Press and Publication and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology.

"We can't deny the charm of those sexy showgirls to those male players," said Han Zhihai, general manager of Beijing-based Howell International, the organization in charge of the show's operation.

"But we can't cross the line," Han said.

Logo locations limited

ChinaJoy's new policy limits the number of showgirls depending on the exhibition size. Game firms were also told to focus more on their products and industry trends and less on sexy girls. Female performers are not allowed to put printed logos in "sensitive positions" like over their breasts, or wear bikinis or costumes exposing more than two-thirds of their backs.

The exhibitors, including top game firms like Tencent and Shanda, reacted quickly.

Shanghai-based Shanda Entertainment has established a team of 25 male models including foreign models this year, a first for the company.

Besides so-called "gameboys," about 60 showgirls will appear in Shanda's booth today, compared with over 100 last year.

The cost of gameboys is higher than showgirls but it helped Shanda get around the limits on showgirl numbers, industry observers said.

Some firms have recruited weiniang for the ChinaJoy show, several industry sources told Shanghai Daily.

Weiniang is a kind of cross-dresser, who adopts the dress or manner or sexual role of the opposite sex. Weiniang often refers to men who like wearing ladies' apparels. 

Cost of models goes up

Hao Ge, a weiniang from Wuhan of Hubei Province, will arrive in Shanghai today and attend shows in ChinaJoy on Friday.

The cost of hiring a showgirl has also surged, from about 1,200 yuan (US$190.50) a day last year to 2,000 yuan in 2012, according to KDS, a Shanghai-based website exhibitor with a 90-square-meter booth.

The show opened yesterday with a summit forum and it will open to the public today at the Shanghai New International Center in Pudong New Area. Weekday admission is 50 yuan, 100 yuan on the weekend. It runs through Sunday.

More than 400 gaming firms attended the show and displayed about 600 of the latest products, 35 percent are debuts for the domestic market.

The show is expected to attract 160,000 visitors this year, 10 times the attendance of the first ChinaJoy show held in 2004, said Sun Shoushan, GAPP's vice director.

In the first half, Chinese games companies saw a rise of 18.5 percent year-on-year to hit 24.8 billion yuan in terms of revenue, Sun told the forum, citing information from International Data Corp, the US-based research firm.

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