Video gamers' babes told to put their clothes on

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The Independent Online

Justly or unjustly, video game enthusiasts aren't exactly famous for their sex appeal. Being part of a $25bn (£13bn) industry, though, they do have the wherewithal to spice up their (overwhelmingly male) electronic gaming conventions with clusters of scantily clad women.

Or they did until this year. Organisers of the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles, the Cannes festival of the video game world, announced a crackdown on bare flesh last week and said they would impose $5,000 fines on anyone showing up on the convention floor nude, partially nude or wearing excessively revealing thong underwear.

A video game industry that had, by all accounts, grown increasingly racy could barely contain its disappointment.

Theoretically, all the buzz at this year's show was focused on the new generation of video consoles - Sony's PlayStation 3, its Nintendo rival Wii, and the new Microsoft Xbox. But even a short walk around the LA Convention Centre made it clear that the participants were equally interested in ogling the models.

"Personally, I wanted to come naked, but they wouldn't let me," one slight brunette called Nancy deadpanned as digital cameras, both still and video, bore down on her in graphic close-up.

Nancy (day job: belly-dancer) was handing out postcards telling punters where to find a list of "the hottest pin-ups in video games - featuring exclusive artwork and photography of your favourite butt-kicking babes!". Perhaps more importantly, she was wearing a micro denim skirt and a skimpy T-shirt.

Elsewhere, models quickly improvised costume lining out of tablecloths to stop their nipples showing through. Unusually demure high-cut T-shirts started appearing over artificially enhanced chests.

Convention organisers had patrols circulating to enforce the new decency rules.

Some models, meanwhile, expressed their hurt at the crackdown. Two navel-baring women stood outside the Convention Centre on opening day with placards that read, "Booth Babe Protest: I'm Rated 'E' for Everyone".

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