China’s biggest gaming conference—ChinaJoy—is coming right up, and we’ve already heard some exciting news. Heroes of the Storm will be playable in Simplified Chinese. Sony and Microsoft will be exhibiting in a special new section for consoles. But let’s frank: the level of name recognition ChinaJoy currently enjoys has a lot more to do with its reputation for featuring attractive eye candy than it does with offering unique gaming news or experiences.
Models lined up at an audition.
It’s probably not surprising, then, that the companies exhibiting at ChinaJoy take their booth babe recruitment seriously. Physically speaking, most companies have height requirements, and a slim waist and a big enough bust to show cleavage are a must. But having all that isn’t enough to secure a spot in and of itself, as competition is fierce. One manager at a Shanghai internet company told Chinese gaming site 17173 that for 20 open spots as a ChinaJoy model, it wasn’t unusual for them to get 500 applications.
The applicants come from a variety of backgrounds, although they’re obviously all young women. Some are students, some are young professionals, and some are models, and they come to ChinaJoy for all kinds of reasons: passion for the games, a desire to become famous, or the need to make some extra cash.
Generally speaking, game companies come up with their own list of requirements for booth babes, but hire a third-party contractor to do the recruiting. After the initial list of applicants is whittled down, many of the women are called in for a face-to-face evaluation process.
On arrival, the first thing they have to do is submit to measurements (height, waist size, bust size, etc.) and photographs. According to a Beijing game company source in 17173, what companies are looking for is tall women with a pretty (but friendly!) face and a well-proportioned body. Beyond that, though, requirements vary by the game company and the games they’re planning to promote at the show. Some are looking for ‘cute’ girls, while others are searching for a ‘wilder’ look or more ‘refined’ looking models. Requirements also vary based on whether the company’s looking for booth babes, models, or cosplayers.
Actually getting selected for ChinaJoy is difficult, and the show presents its own challenges. To begin with, it often pays less than other comparable modeling gigs—only about 400-800 RMB ($65-$130) a day. And of those fees, the girl’s agency takes a big cut. And then there’s the work itself: eight hours of standing in a sweaty exhibition hall in heels, taking photos with gamers and trying to avoid the creeps looking to sneak upskirt photos. In fact, to avoid this, many ChinaJoy models select their undergarments carefully to be sure that even if someone manages to catch them at just the right angle, nothing will be revealed.
Two booth babes at a Chinese game show.
Every year, there are also rumors that becoming a ChinaJoy booth babe comes with some unwritten rules. There are always whispers about how girls obtained their spots, and about what goes on between the booth babes and executives of the companies they’re representing after the show. The Shanghai internet company source told 17173 that ChinaJoy booth babes definitely do sometimes go out with company reps after the show for drinks, but she also said it was entirely voluntary.
According to the women themselves, there are sometimes agency employees who will call prospective applicants, demanding that they “get a hotel room” or be scratched off the company’s shortlist. But con artists and fake companies are a bigger problem than employees at real companies abusing their privilege. Luckily, these tricksters are usually easy to spot.
Still, it’s a lot to put up with just for the chance to model at China’s biggest video game convention.
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