Do Playboy models love video games? On a first meeting with Jo Garcia, it'd be easy to levy skepticism. She's Playboy's "Cyber Girl Of The Year," beating out 52 weeks of rival models in an online-only competition. It just happens, Garcia said, that she's "really big into games."
We've seen many beautiful faces representing themselves as gamers, of course; booth babes, models and even amateur cam girls using photos of themselves posed suggestively with game paraphernalia to sell products or drive web hits. Because of this phenomenon, every time you see a so-called "hot gamer chick," the temptation is to assume she can't possibly be an actual gamer.
So is Jo Garcia the real deal? Full interview - and slightly NSFW pics - follow the jump.
"People don't understand that that the whole gaming world is not just for geeks, and assume that every person who plays video games is a geek that wears glasses," Garcia said. "It's a misnomer that needs to be put to rest."
Garcia told us she plays PC games and console titles, and owns both a Nintendo DS and a PSP. "It's something that I carry with me everywhere, like some people carry their iPods. It's the norm to me. I've had people send me messages like, 'oh you play video games?' And I'm like, 'why are you so surprised?"
"If I could get a job... being a game tester, I would do that all day long."
Wouldn't she get sick of it? "I don't think I would! I think that's one of those things... like you can eat chocolate all day long, and I can play video games all day and I'll get lost in them."
Her favorite games? "I love RPGs that tell stories," she said, listing the Final Fantasy series, Radiata Stories and the Xenosaga trilogy among her favorites.
"I like those games because they have a lot of sidequests," Garcia said. "You can build up your character doing small things. I'm 100 hours into FFXII and I'm not even done with the game yet. I'm doing all the hunts and the sidequests - I'm probably a third into the game and my guys are at level 60. I hold my characters high so when I go through the game it's a lot easier."
Yeah. But did she get the Zodiac Spear?
"I actually got the Zodiac Spear the first time I played it... you have to go through hell to get that spear, but I happened to get it the first time because someone told me about it. You can't open certain boxes, but then you have to go through and fight that nasty esper at the end... I died three times before I actually beat it."
Garcia talked quite a bit about RPGs, with an enthusiasm for detail familiar to fans of the genre. She's aware, though, that both gamers and non-gamers might have a hard time believing that a winning Playboy model defers social time with pals to focus on her game console - perhaps because of the manipulative way in which the game industry uses pretty girls, or pretty girls use the game industry, to earn appeal.
Garcia has seen plenty of models paid to act like game fans when they're not, but said it's not the models' fault. "Sex sells," she said. "The thing that most of the guys see... the women taking pictures with an Xbox to make it look more glamorous... you can't blame so much the models, but the companies. [The models] are being paid to be there, like at the game conventions. I know a lot of girls that shoot that kind of stuff, but it's not done on purpose."
"They're trying to make it appeal to men. And I think men need more... finessing than women do. You can do woman-based advertising on a product, but I think if a woman wants to play video games, she's going to buy it regardless of the ads," Garcia said.
"[A woman] thinks more when she makes a purchase, versus guys have to be lured in. So if you just give them something cheezy, that's going to be implanted in their head and they're going to be like, 'I have to buy Call of Duty 4.' Women don't need that finessing. You can give her a million-dollar advertisement, and if she doesn't want to buy it she's not going to buy it."
How, then, does Garcia think that women might dissolve some of the misconceptions around females and games? "I think just playing them," she said. "Even something as small as just doing this. I've shot Playboy stuff with my PSP, and people have asked if I really play video games, and I respond back. I think, just getting more involved in it, and doing more with it, and seeing where it goes."
By the way, according to Garcia, one of Hugh Hefner's favorite rooms at the Playboy Mansion has a broad museum of old arcade cabinets. After seeing it on her first tour, Garcia decided to spend her visit hanging out in there.
"I was in there probably the whole time I was at the house, because I wanted something to do," she said. "I almost finished the whole Donkey Kong while I was there."