What more could a girl want?

Wired carried an article a few days ago, about Ridiculous Life Lessons From New Girl Games, and, y'know, being a woman and a gamer, I thought "Hey, maybe I can get some new games!"

Yah, maybe not. As usual when a strongly men-dominated industry hurls itself headlong without the most basic research treads carefully into the (no doubt to them) bizarre world of girls who like games, the results are pretty spectacularly misogyriffic. It's not Wired I'm after here, but the game companies.

Because, as we know, what a girl wants with a video game is to reinforce her enculturation as a fashion-obsessed, backbiting harridan whose only goal is to be the prettiest princess of them all, so she can get the perfect boyfriend, and then be paid to blog about it. I should note these are all explicitly aimed at the "tween" market.

Okay, I may be conflating a few there, but check out these titles:

The Clique: Diss and Make Up

This one's about how to stab, gossip and just plain be rotten to other young women, in the pursuit of being part of the Pretty Committee. No, I'm not making that up. Makeup comes later.

Charm Girls Club: My Fashion Mall, My Fashion Show and My Perfect Prom

Tweens run a mall, trying to keep it drama-free and yet hip and happening. Oh, except it's not a regular mall, where, y'know, people* might go, just a girly fashion mall. Girls can't run hardware or book stores, don't be stupid!

The Daring Game for Girls

This one actually looks kinda cool - it encourages girls to seek adventure, provides information on famous women, and doesn't restrict itself to activities which are stereotypically girlish. How the hell it slipped past the marketing wonks, I've no idea: someone fell down on the job here, because something reinforcing girls' sense of their own abilities being limitless is clearly off-message.

Dreamer Series: Top Model

A game which sells the process of becoming a top model as, basically, "get your hair and makeup right, and learn how to pose". Presumably it will be left to later add-ons to include the Eating Disorders as Competitive Advantage module, the Unacceptably Dark: Skin-bleaching FTW! module, and the It's Not Sexual Harrassment If He's a Photographer or Agent module.

Imagine: Babyz Fashion

For those who can't decide between their two most important ladylife goals, babeez and clothez, this little number helps to resolve that rending conflict. Placate the greedy little beggar infant with expensive designer items, or you're a Bad Mommy.

Imagine: Detective

This is an odd one. The players solve mysteries using skills/traits within the game, such as karate and a photographic memory, oh, and, because they've got ladybits, naturally also using "sixth sense" (which I think is the buzzword of the moment for "feminine intuition"). Oh, yes, and then (as Liss can testify), the player will make just gobs of money blogging about it, as women are naturally able to make a living as bloggers.


Ahem. Moving on.

My Boyfriend

Players get to flirt with a group of men, and to tailor themselves and their actions to winning the perfect boyfriend. I'm not even going to bother analysing that one. If you can't see the problem, you may be reading the wrong blog.

Princess in Love

Taking the "My Boyfriend" concept just a teeny bit further, here girls get to be princesses (that's never happened before!), with an appropriately princessy focus on finding the perfect Prince, or husband formerly known as Prince. Did I mention this is for tweens?

Style Lab: Makeover and Style Lab: Jewelry Design

YOU'RE NOT PRETTY ENOUGH! HURRY, COVER YOUR FACE WITH PAINT SO NO ONE HAS TO SEE YOUR HIDEOUS TWELVE-YEAR-OLD FACE! HURRY! ALSO, PESTER YOUR FATHER TO BUY YOU THE RIDICULOUSLY OVERPRICED JEWELRY WHICH CAN BE DESIGNED USING THIS, OR HE WON'T BE ABLE TO SELL NO ONE WILL EVER MARRY YOU! I may be understating the subtext here. I tried using Tiger Beatdown's habit of including more exclamation marks to show importance, but I was informed by a shadowy operative of the Department of Keeping Women In Their Place that the exclamation mark, as an obviously phallic symbol, is no longer eligible for use by ladywriters. We're only allowed one per sentence now.

Style Savvy

In this one, things are marginally better: the player is running a fashion store in a mall, and has to manage prices and inventory and so on. Kudos for imagining young women as business owners: cluedos for needing to be told it should be possible to do more than just fashion.

Gee...and the gaming industry wonders why girls and women who are gamers complain about there being no games that cater to us - or, more accurately, recognize that we exist outside of "rewards for dudeliness" and "targets of dudely behaviour" - see Grand Theft Auto, HALO, oh, just a few thousand or so of the most popular (to actual people*) games. Clearly the need was for more girliness-reinforcing software, not for making simple changes to existing games to allow women and girls to enjoy playing them as though they weren't specifically made for hormone-drenched teenage boys, by, say, not using women as prizes, or not using women's bodies to sell games to hetero men, or maybe allowing the player to play as a woman if desired, or any of those crazy crazy ideas.

I don't know why my silly ladybranez can't be just satisfied with the bounteous choice now available to me in gaming software. Just uppity, I guess. Good thing for the gaming companies that we're not a major market segment.

Tip of the CaitieCatChapeau to Shaker koach for the heads-up.

* "People" defined in the usual patriarchal way: "hetero pale-skinned men with ancestors from the 'right' countries".

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