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
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The Future of the Left: trade unions are more important than ever

Trade unions are under threat - and without them, the left has no future. 

Not accepting what you're given, when what you're given isn't enough, is the heart of trade unionism.

Workers having the means to change their lot - by standing together and organising is bread and butter for the labour movement - and the most important part? That 'lightbulb moment' when a group of workers realise they don't have to accept the injustice of their situation and that they have the means to change it.

That's what happened when a group of low-paid hospital workers organised a demonstration outside their hospital last week. As more of their colleagues clocked out and joined them on their picket, thart lightbulb went on.

When they stood together, proudly waving their union flags, singing a rhythmic chant and raising their homemade placards demanding a living wage they knew they had organised the collective strength needed to win.

The GMB union members, predominantly BAME women, work for Aramark, an American multinational outsourcing provider. They are hostesses and domestics in the South London and Maudsley NHS Trust, a mental health trust with sites across south London.

Like the nurses and doctors, they work around vulnerable patients and are subject to verbal and in some cases physical abuse. Unlike the nurses and doctors their pay is determined by the private contractor that employs them - for many of these staff that means statutory sick pay, statutory annual leave entitlement and as little as £7.38 per hour.

This is little more than George Osborne's new 'Living Wage' of £7.20 per hour as of April.

But these workers aren't fighting for a living wage set by government or even the Living Wage Foundation - they are fighting for a genuine living wage. The GMB union and Class think tank have calculated that a genuine living wage of £10ph an hour as part of a full time contract removes the need for in work benefits.

As the TUC launches its 'Heart Unions' week of action against the trade union bill today, the Aramark workers will be receiving ballot papers to vote on whether or not they want to strike to win their demands.

These workers are showing exactly why we need to 'Heart Unions' more than ever, because it is the labour movement and workers like these that need to start setting the terms of the real living wage debate. It is campaigns like this, low-paid, in some cases precariously employed and often women workers using their collective strength to make demands on their employer with a strategy for winning those demands that will begin to deliver a genuine living wage.

It is also workers like these that the Trade Union Bill seeks to silence. In many ways it may succeed, but in many other ways workers can still win.

Osborne wants workers to accept what they're given - a living wage on his terms. He wants to stop the women working for Aramark from setting an example to other workers about what can be achieved.

There is no doubting that achieving higher ballot turn outs, restrictions on picket lines and most worryingly the use of agency workers to cover strikers work will make campaigns like these harder. But I refuse to accept they are insurmountable, or that good, solid organisation of working people doesn't have the ability to prevail over even the most authoritarian of legislation.

As the TUC launch their Heart Unions week of action against the bill these women are showing us how the labour movement can reclaim the demands for a genuine living wage. They also send a message to all working people, the message that the Tories fear the most, that collective action can still win and that attempts to silence workers can still be defeated.