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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What's going on in Northern Ireland?

Everything you need to know about why Northern Ireland is heading for an early election - and how it all works. 

Northern Irish voters will elect a new government, just seven months after the last election. Here’s what you need to know.

It all starts with something called the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI), a scheme designed to encourage businesses to switch to renewable sources of heating, by paying them to do so. But the plan had two flaws. Firstly, there was no upper limit to how much you could receive under the scheme and secondly there was no requirement that the new heaters replace the old.

That led to businesses installing biomass boilers to heat rooms that had previously not been heated, including storage rooms and in some cases, empty sheds.

 The cost of the scheme has now run way over budget, and although the door has been closed to new entrants, existing participants in the scheme will continue collecting money for the next 20 years, with the expected bill for the Northern Irish assembly expected to reach £1bn.  

The row is politically contentious because Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, and the First Minister of Northern Ireland, was head of the Department for Enterprise, Trade and Investment (DETI) when the scheme was rolled out, putting her at the heart of the row. Though there is no suggestion that she personally enriched herself or her allies, there are questions about how DETI signed off the scheme without any safeguards and why it took so long for the testimony of whistleblowers to be acted on.

The opposition parties have called for a full inquiry and for Foster to step down while that inquiry takes place, something which she has refused to do. What happened instead is that the Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, resigned his post, he said as a result of frustration with the DUP’s instrangience about the scheme.

Under the rules of the devolved assembly (of which, more below), the executive – the ministers tasked with running the government day-to-day must be compromised of politicians drawn from the parties that finish first and second in the vote, otherwise the administration is dissolved.  McGuinesss’ Sinn Fein finished second and their refusal to continue participating in the executive while Foster remains in place automatically triggers fresh elections.

Northern Ireland uses the single transferable vote (STV) to elect members of the legislative assembly (MLAs). Under STV, multiple MLAs are elected from a single constituency, to more accurately reflect the votes of the people who live there and, crucially, to prevent a repeat of the pattern of devolved rule under first-past-the-post, when prolonged one-party rule by the Unionist and Protestant majority contributed to a sense of political alienation among the Catholic minority.

Elections are contested across 18 seats, with five MPs elected to every seat. To further ensure that no part of the community is unrepresented in the running of the devolved assembly, the executive, too, is put together with a form of proportional representation. Not only does the executive require a majority in the legislature to pass its business, under a system of “mandatory coalition”, posts on the executive are allocated under the D’Hondt system of proportional representation, with posts on the executive allocated according to how well parties do, with the first party getting first pick, and so on until it comes back to the first party until all the posts are filled.

Although the parties which finish third and lower can opt out of taking their seats on the executive and instead oppose the government, if the first and second party don’t participate in the coalition, there is no government.

As it is highly unlikely that the DUP and Sinn Fein will not occupy the first and second places when the election is over, it is equally unlikely that a second election will do anything other than prolong the chaos and disunity at Stormont. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.