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Video game vixens return to Playboy
Digital heroines shed their virtual clothes for the second year running.
September 8, 2005: 5:28 PM EDT
Game Over is a weekly column by Chris Morris
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NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - I know cops don't get paid what they deserve, but you'd think a Manhattan homicide detective would be able to afford skivvies.

Carla Valenti's a NYPD detective. She's 28 years old, stands 5'7" and weighs 128 lbs. She's currently leading the investigation into a stabbing at a local diner, trying to track down a suspect by the name of Lucas Kane.

So where in the world did she find the time to appear buck naked in the current issue of Playboy magazine?

Carla's not real, mind you... She's a character in Atari's (Research) upcoming action/adventure game "Indigo Prophecy." And she's hardly alone. Seven other video game femmes fatale, heroines and bit characters have once again shimmied out of their clothes for a digital pictorial in the men's magazine.

Joining Carla are a cheerleader from Midway's (Research) upcoming "Blitz: The League," Sony's (Research) megahit "God of War," Vivendi's (Research) "50 Cent: Bulletproof," "Playboy: The Mansion Private Party," "Darkwatch," and "Hellgate: London."

While nude video game characters are nothing new for Playboy, the October issue hits stands just as the storm surrounding an unlockable sex scene in "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas" begins to pass. The magazine said it never considered delaying the layout.

"Wherever you stand on which is worse for kids -- sex or violence -- the issue really is there's content for grownups and there's content for kids," said Scott Alexander, senior editor for Playboy. "Playboy is a magazine for adults. We report on adult topics, such as oil prices. Generation Pokemon doesn't really care about that."

Last year's pixel-based pictorial was an uncertain experiment. Nobody, including the magazine, knew how it would sell. And publishers weren't sure how the public would react to characters luring readers with come-hither looks.

The reaction -- on both fronts -- was beyond expectations. Playboy has expanded the feature this year (again including a series of articles about the industry, including its picks for this holiday's top games and a look at next generation machines). And finding potential models wasn't a problem.

"Last year, we were selling a new concept [to publishers]," said Alexander. "The response we got last year and the huge promotional bump resulted in companies lining up at our door. I literally had to turn away six or seven publishers."

The magazine's also trying to appeal to the collector nature of some gamers with the feature. Instead of running the digital divas on the slick magazine pages, the pictures are printed on removable 'trading cards'. All totaled, there are 8 cards (which can be turned over and assembled puzzle-like to reflect a larger ninth image). The trick is: Two versions of the magazine are being published, each with only four cards. If you want to see all the characters, you'll need to buy the magazine twice.

And none of this "I'm just buying it for the articles" nonsense, either, mister...Aside from the cards, there are no differences in the issues.

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Did Microsoft fall for a Sony head fake? Click here.

Morris (who, should his mother find this column, only looked at the magazine for journalistic purposes) is Director of Content Development. Click here to send him an e-mail.  Top of page

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