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.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

The rise of the green mayor – Sadiq Khan and the politics of clean energy

At an event at Tate Modern, Sadiq Khan pledged to clean up London's act.

On Thursday night, deep in the bowls of Tate Modern’s turbine hall, London Mayor Sadiq Khan renewed his promise to make the capital a world leader in clean energy and air. Yet his focus was as much on people as power plants – in particular, the need for local authorities to lead where central governments will not.

Khan was there to introduce the screening of a new documentary, From the Ashes, about the demise of the American coal industry. As he noted, Britain continues to battle against the legacy of fossil fuels: “In London today we burn very little coal but we are facing new air pollution challenges brought about for different reasons." 

At a time when the world's leaders are struggling to keep international agreements on climate change afloat, what can mayors do? Khan has pledged to buy only hybrid and zero-emissions buses from next year, and is working towards London becoming a zero carbon city.

Khan has, of course, also gained heroic status for being a bête noire of climate-change-denier-in-chief Donald Trump. On the US president's withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, Khan quipped: “If only he had withdrawn from Twitter.” He had more favourable things to say about the former mayor of New York and climate change activist Michael Bloomberg, who Khan said hailed from “the second greatest city in the world.”

Yet behind his humour was a serious point. Local authorities are having to pick up where both countries' central governments are leaving a void – in improving our air and supporting renewable technology and jobs. Most concerning of all, perhaps, is the way that interest groups representing business are slashing away at the regulations which protect public health, and claiming it as a virtue.

In the UK, documents leaked to Greenpeace’s energy desk show that a government-backed initiative considered proposals for reducing EU rules on fire-safety on the very day of the Grenfell Tower fire. The director of this Red Tape Initiative, Nick Tyrone, told the Guardian that these proposals were rejected. Yet government attempts to water down other EU regulations, such as the energy efficiency directive, still stand.

In America, this blame-game is even more highly charged. Republicans have sworn to replace what they describe as Obama’s “war on coal” with a war on regulation. “I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations,” Trump announced in March. While he has vowed “to promote clean air and clear water,” he has almost simultaneously signed an order to unravel the Clean Water Rule.

This rhetoric is hurting the very people it claims to protect: miners. From the Ashes shows the many ways that the industry harms wider public health, from water contamination, to air pollution. It also makes a strong case that the American coal industry is in terminal decline, regardless of possibile interventions from government or carbon capture.

Charities like Bloomberg can only do so much to pick up the pieces. The foundation, which helped fund the film, now not only helps support job training programs in coal communities after the Trump administration pulled their funding, but in recent weeks it also promised $15m to UN efforts to tackle climate change – again to help cover Trump's withdrawal from Paris Agreement. “I'm a bit worried about how many cards we're going to have to keep adding to the end of the film”, joked Antha Williams, a Bloomberg representative at the screening, with gallows humour.

Hope also lies with local governments and mayors. The publication of the mayor’s own environment strategy is coming “soon”. Speaking in panel discussion after the film, his deputy mayor for environment and energy, Shirley Rodrigues, described the move to a cleaner future as "an inevitable transition".

Confronting the troubled legacies of our fossil fuel past will not be easy. "We have our own experiences here of our coal mining communities being devastated by the closure of their mines," said Khan. But clean air begins with clean politics; maintaining old ways at the price of health is not one any government must pay. 

'From The Ashes' will premiere on National Geograhpic in the United Kingdom at 9pm on Tuesday, June 27th.

India Bourke is an environment writer and editorial assistant at the New Statesman.

0800 7318496