The official Olympics videogame thinks women's sports are boring

Sega only likes women if they're in bikinis.

The official Olympics 2012 videogame -- called, imaginatively, London 2012: The Official Videogame -- appears to think men's sports are more important than women's.

The game, which is currently top of the all-formats charts, offers the following sports:

 

Archery

§  Individual

§  Team

Aquatics

§  3m springboard diving

§  3m synchronised springboard diving

§  10m platform diving

§  10m synchronised platform diving

§  Swimming – 50m freestyle

§  Swimming – 100m backstroke

§  Swimming – 100m breaststroke

§  Swimming – 100m butterfly

§  Swimming – 100m freestyle

Gymnastics

§  Trampoline (men only)

§   Vault

Shooting

§  25 metre rapid fire pistol (men only)

§  Skeet shooting

Track and field

§  100m (men only)

§  110m hurdles (men only)

§  200m (men only)

§  400m

§  Discus throw (men only)

§  High jump

§  Javelin throw (men only)

§  Long jump (men only)

§  Shot put (men only)

§  Triple jump (men only)

Other sports

§  Beach volleyball (women only)

§  Canoe slalom – K1 Kayak (men only)

§  Cycling – Keirin (men only)

§  Rowing – Single sculls (men only)

§  Table tennis (men only)

§  Weightlifting over 105kg (men only)

 

I've checked with the publisher, Sega, and they confirm that this is the correct listing. There are indeed 15 men-only sports.

There is just one women-only sport . . . and I bet you could have guessed what it was.

Yes, it's the one where the contestants wear bikinis:

 

I just find this really odd. It's not as though there is a huge extra cost involved in making female avatars. Neither is it the case that there are droves of world-renowned male canoe slalom contestants, but no female ones.

A source at Sega says that the sports were chosen "for what works best for gameplay", but that doesn't make much sense to me either. Is a manly way of firing a pistol much more enjoyable than a ladylike one?

The only conclusion I can come to is that Sega see "male" as default, and only include women where they're useful for sexy box art/promotional reasons. Which is really weird, given that the game's rating is "3" - ie suitable for ages three and up. This isn't a game where the buyers are assumed to be drooling male adolescents, which is the usual excuse people make for including objectified female characters.

So what's the reason for making London 2012 such a sausage-fest?

 

A male-only athletics race from the London 2012 videogame.

Helen Lewis is deputy editor of the New Statesman. She has presented BBC Radio 4’s Week in Westminster and is a regular panellist on BBC1’s Sunday Politics.

Getty
Show Hide image

A swimming pool and a bleeding toe put my medical competency in doubt

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Sometimes the search engine wins. 

The brutal heatwave affecting southern Europe this summer has become known among locals as “Lucifer”. Having just returned from Italy, I fully understand the nickname. An early excursion caused the beginnings of sunstroke, so we abandoned plans to explore the cultural heritage of the Amalfi region and strayed no further than five metres from the hotel pool for the rest of the week.

The children were delighted, particularly my 12-year-old stepdaughter, Gracie, who proceeded to spend hours at a time playing in the water. Towelling herself after one long session, she noticed something odd.

“What’s happened there?” she asked, holding her foot aloft in front of my face.

I inspected the proffered appendage: on the underside of her big toe was an oblong area of glistening red flesh that looked like a chunk of raw steak.

“Did you injure it?”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t hurt at all.”

I shrugged and said she must have grazed it. She wasn’t convinced, pointing out that she would remember if she had done that. She has great faith in plasters, though, and once it was dressed she forgot all about it. I dismissed it, too, assuming it was one of those things.

By the end of the next day, the pulp on the underside of all of her toes looked the same. As the doctor in the family, I felt under some pressure to come up with an explanation. I made up something about burns from the hot paving slabs around the pool. Gracie didn’t say as much, but her look suggested a dawning scepticism over my claims to hold a medical degree.

The next day, Gracie and her new-found holiday playmate, Eve, abruptly terminated a marathon piggy-in-the-middle session in the pool with Eve’s dad. “Our feet are bleeding,” they announced, somewhat incredulously. Sure enough, bright-red blood was flowing, apparently painlessly, from the bottoms of their big toes.

Doctors are used to contending with Google. Often, what patients discover on the internet causes them undue alarm, and our role is to provide context and reassurance. But not infrequently, people come across information that outstrips our knowledge. On my return from our room with fresh supplies of plasters, my wife looked up from her sun lounger with an air of quiet amusement.

“It’s called ‘pool toe’,” she said, handing me her iPhone. The page she had tracked down described the girls’ situation exactly: friction burns, most commonly seen in children, caused by repetitive hopping about on the abrasive floors of swimming pools. Doctors practising in hot countries must see it all the time. I doubt it presents often to British GPs.

I remained puzzled about the lack of pain. The injuries looked bad, but neither Gracie nor Eve was particularly bothered. Here the internet drew a blank, but I suspect it has to do with the “pruning” of our skin that we’re all familiar with after a soak in the bath. This only occurs over the pulps of our fingers and toes. It was once thought to be caused by water diffusing into skin cells, making them swell, but the truth is far more fascinating.

The wrinkling is an active process, triggered by immersion, in which the blood supply to the pulp regions is switched off, causing the skin there to shrink and pucker. This creates the biological equivalent of tyre treads on our fingers and toes and markedly improves our grip – of great evolutionary advantage when grasping slippery fish in a river, or if trying to maintain balance on slick wet rocks.

The flip side of this is much greater friction, leading to abrasion of the skin through repeated micro-trauma. And the lack of blood flow causes nerves to shut down, depriving us of the pain that would otherwise alert us to the ongoing tissue damage. An adaptation that helped our ancestors hunt in rivers proves considerably less use on a modern summer holiday.

I may not have seen much of the local heritage, but the trip to Italy taught me something new all the same. 

This article first appeared in the 17 August 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Trump goes nuclear