Silly Girls

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Silly Girls

Videogames may market to silly girls, but they sure aren't responsible for creating them.

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Final Fantasy XIII has a female protagonist.

So did Final Fantasy VI.

Final Fantasy X had a lead female who wasn't sexed up, and was ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for the people of her world. That's a pretty positive step.

Those aren't games that are marketed to girls though, so I don't know who you would hold responsible in those instances.

I've always been sceptical of girl "gamers". The ones I've met seem to fill the usual stereotypes, or are simply trying to make a statement that "girls play video games too".

I got called a sexist for my kill streak of 12 on CoD 4 once, because I killed the same girl three times. Yeah, needless to say my headset came off soon after.

You know, I'm gonna stop criticizing my sister for playing these games, but she's gonna have to agree to stop calling nearly every single one of my games nerd games.

I would always ask her, "What sort of point do your games have?" And I would always be yelled at for it.

Bah, video games are silly, aren't they? I know that many games did the whole 'play as a male or female' thing just fine, but in some games, it wouldn't make much sense. Sure, a girl could close shut the jaws of Oblivion, and she could just as well be in the SAS with some craaaaaaaaaaaazy nickname like Soap or...I dunno, hairdye, but don't you think it would look rather awkward for a woman to be walking around in, say, Gears of War, wearing half a car?

Maybe that's just me, but it seems like that sort of armor would have to be heavily modified to the point of actually wrapping around the woman's body and directly fitting the breasts and whatnot so that you'd be able to tell she was female at all. I don't mean this in an insulting way, because, by all means, women are perfectly capable of wearing power armor. It's just that power armor is usually BUILT in a way that it accentuates the fact that the guy wearing it is REALLY BUFF. That wouldn't fit well on a female, it would just look awkward, and if they built it in a way that accentuates the fact that she's female, the guys who made the game would get yelled at by annoyed people everywhere for the girls having breasts that are overly large(because we all know how most game designers are.)

Point is, we have to draw a line somewhere between male leads and female leads. While the whole both genders thing would be great in many games, it just wouldn't work in quite a few.

You just changed your point halfway through...

What about the Elite Beat Diva's? They were a secret unlockable in EBA, and they were implied to be more skilled at their craft than the Agents proper.

Crazzee:
Bah, video games are silly, aren't they? I know that many games did the whole 'play as a male or female' thing just fine, but in some games, it wouldn't make much sense. Sure, a girl could close shut the jaws of Oblivion, and she could just as well be in the SAS with some craaaaaaaaaaaazy nickname like Soap or...I dunno, hairdye, but don't you think it would look rather awkward for a woman to be walking around in, say, Gears of War, wearing half a car?

Maybe that's just me, but it seems like that sort of armor would have to be heavily modified to the point of actually wrapping around the woman's body and directly fitting the breasts and whatnot so that you'd be able to tell she was female at all. I don't mean this in an insulting way, because, by all means, women are perfectly capable of wearing power armor. It's just that power armor is usually BUILT in a way that it accentuates the fact that the guy wearing it is REALLY BUFF. That wouldn't fit well on a female, it would just look awkward, and if they built it in a way that accentuates the fact that she's female, the guys who made the game would get yelled at by annoyed people everywhere for the girls having breasts that are overly large(because we all know how most game designers are.)

Point is, we have to draw a line somewhere between male leads and female leads. While the whole both genders thing would be great in many games, it just wouldn't work in quite a few.

http://www.frsa.com/pixfemuscle/MariannaKomlos.jpg

some how i could imagine a woman wearing the power armor

I find it sort of annoying but gaming is usually boxed in by the media monkeys as a boys club so it'd be hard to get science mama on shelves.

DISCLAIMER: Gerazzi is not gay nor is he female.

But jeez people, I shouldn't have to say that either.

Everyone's equally plagued by stereotypes.
Most people wouldn't picture me firing a .22, now would they?

Could people please remember that Girl really only applies to females under the age of about 12

Women when you have crows feet it really is time to start being an adult

For what few female protagonists there are they kick a lot of ass: Samus, Terra, Alex, Rozalin, Yggdra, and so on.

I honestly didn't have a bad reaction to 'tween girls' because it was a girl-ish game. I didn't like it because I could tell it was a bad game... a horrible shovel-ware game that was being sent to a undeveloped segment of the market.

Cooking Mama, Nintendogs, the Sims and a lot of other games you could label as more Girl games, those I can respect, they do they're own thing and I don't like it but they do it well. Tween girls are the games you see a non-gaming parenting buying for their kid and you know their child is going to hate it and you twitch and try to resist screaming at them not to buy it. It works both ways genders too, for every "Dora saves the snow princess" there's a "HOTWHEELS RACING GAME" that's just as bad.

I hate shovel-ware regardless if they're directed at a female audience or not. Hopefully with more female gamers in the market, girls will receive better games directed at them.

iblis666:

http://www.frsa.com/pixfemuscle/MariannaKomlos.jpg

some how i could imagine a woman wearing the power armor

Some_how I can see the marketing team doing a group suicide.

Well....ummm.....I'm not quite sure i'm qualified to comment but I'll just say "Video Game Companies are run by either blockheads or heartless CEOs looking for money" and that pretty much sums it up. I mean, come on, Video Games aren't the boo hiss evil FOX makes them out to be. Yeah not every girl plays games like Barbie's Horse Adventure but come on, females who play games like Call of Duty 4 will not want to broadcast their gender to save on annoying people bugging them 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I sorta understand their pain, but then again I'm not your typical guy who i enthralled at the idea of glistening jugs 5 times too large for whatever skimpy leotard outfit they are wearing. I've got a less superficial way of looking at video game characters. This coming from a person who played KOTOR as a Guy but Jade Empire, Mass Effect, Neverwinter Nights and Dungeon Siege as a girl becuase he felt like throwing a stick into the gears and being a girl for a change. Not all video game characters have to be men who have voices like a blender full of gravel and make grunting noises instead of words. I like a little class with my characters, so if they at least can speak proper English I won't gouge my ears out. But seriously, Suzie has a point. Girls don't HAVE to play girly games, they can if they want to. I can remember my days when I was completely fascinated by Pokemon....it was like my life. Then I decided that I was too old for childish things. I still have my Pokemon cards, dosen't mean I use them. Just because a chunk of games is for silly, young girls it doesn't mean you can't be sophisticated and play a little Mass Effect or Braid or heavens forbid Halo 3 it does mean that Developers can be very very shallow. Play whatever games interest you, no matter if its Halo or Coking Mama its your choice you don't have to comply. That is until Microsoft takes over the world." but then again I'm one of those guys who dosen't know a lot about women....

It is a shame a stnding ovation doesn't translate well on forums. Who cares what games whoever else likes to play. As long as they aren't taping your eyes open and going all Clockwork Orange on you then it shouldn't matter. Games are meant to entertain just like any other entertainment medium. Sure some can be educational as well but there is no rule saying they should be teaching us anything.

FloodOne:

Final Fantasy X had a lead female who wasn't sexed up, and was ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for the people of her world. That's a pretty positive step.

...But then you had X-2 which was a step back to old habits.

As for responding to the topic I think it is worth remembering that when Marketing directors make a game (or anything for that matter) they pick a target audience and are not trying to meet everyones individual tastes; so its only common that a target audience will be based often be based on stereotype, and futhermore it makes sense to a marketer to take the Utilitarian route and create somthing that they know will attract the greatest number of sales.

To be honest I never really understood why so many people feel that they have to defend their image of what games they play, does it really matter providing you have fun at the end of the day, after all their only games at the end of the day.

"It would be wonderful to see Science Mama alongside Cooking Mama in the store, but we apparently have to leave that sort of thing to Papa. "

Science Girls! - http://www.hanakogames.com/science.shtml

Close enough? :)

I'm a girl, and I like dirtbikes and shopping. Just as I like RPGs, RTSs, FPSs.....
Pluys the JoBros are just a Disney cash-in, unfortunately every girl under the age of 12 have fallen into their trap.

Great article as always!

Although you had already convinced me that I was wrong in a thread the other day, so it kind of lost it's meaning...

Also, Sora's a boy!? (jk)

--Xvito, keeping it excellent.

Clarkarius:

FloodOne:

Final Fantasy X had a lead female who wasn't sexed up, and was ready to make the ultimate sacrifice for the people of her world. That's a pretty positive step.

...But then you had X-2 which was a step back to old habits.

Wait what? That was the first time Final Fantasy and Square-Enix decided to go charlie's angels on their franchise.

My big problem with these games is pretty much what Susan said--that there's nothing else--that the games just reinforce gender stereotypes (Cooking Mama and Science Papa). The overwhelming (and therefore depressing) number of games marketed to girls is just the sparkly pink dating-make up-ponies stuff (full disclosure; I loved ponies as a kid).

Couple that with the lack of female leads in games (and yes, people have mentioned a FEW of the games with female leads, but deny they are few and far between) as well as the way women are often portrayed in games, and it's nothing but bad message after bad message all around.

I certainly have no problems with the girls who want to play these kinds of games playing them, or with the fact that there's a market for it. I just wish Mama could also do more than cook.

So long as 'tween' girls buy Twilight "novels" and rave about how good it is, and at the same time 'tween' boys think guk like XXX is cool, I have no doubt that the stupid market will continue to exist. And my faith in the next generation died the day the 'crazy frog' ring tone came out.

ANYWHO, onto the article itself - Read's well, although I can't really comment much on the territory that is, frankly, a marshy minefield for us lads. All seems to make sense and all.

Susan's article:

Ah, what's that I hear? That these games "perpetuate negative stereotypes"? Which stereotypes would these be, exactly?

Well, I've not played this games for several obvious reasons (including wanting to avoid seeing bits of my brain dribble out of my nose as it dissolves slowly), but I suspect they might be refering to the unrealistic body types of size zero's with size EE breasts. Although hell knows why they aren't up in arms about the negative male stereotypes - seriously, biceps bigger than their heads!

iblis666:
some how i could imagine a woman wearing the power armor

That must have been very difficult to imagine.

On a more serious note, I find it kind of depressing that we're even still talking about this. If you don't understand why games like this are being made, answer me this: Did you buy every game that came out last year? It's risky and potentially downright irresponsible to direct all your efforts toward selling to existing customers.

If you make a game that appeals to me you have a slim chance of selling it since you will have to be more appealing than 99% of the titles available to me. If you make something that appeals you someone who doesn't normally play video games, your chances skyrocket, because they weren't going to buy one of the other games anyway, and there isn't really much else that you have to compete with.

Furthermore, this has been going on for decades. Video games based on Barbie, a property exceedingly unpopular with the male demographic, have been coming out since the NES was hot. Guess what? My sisters both loved Barbie dolls when they were younger. The idea of a game with Barbie was as appealing to them as a game based on Transformers (Which, of course, is the pinnacle of human culture) was to me. This is to say nothing of all the girl-oriented toys and games that have been made outside of video games. Are you going to start complaining about easy bake ovens and Mystery Date too?

And before you start saying something about soulless companies cashing in on the unsuspecting public, let me ask: Is there something so wrong with wanting to make a game that people will play, and conversely wanting people to play the game that you've made? It's even possible, and I know this is pushing the limits of feasibility, that some of the people who worked on all these girl-centric games have identified with the subject matter and wanted to share their enjoyment with the next generation.

Susan Arendt:
The simple truth is that young girls like stupid things. They like shopping and makeup and boys and ponies and glitter and The Jonas Brothers and a whole legion of other things that will make you feel like your brain is dissolving if you think about them for too long.

While boys like sensible things like Action Men and guns and pulling girls hair and explosions and Megan Fox.

Hold on...I see what you did there...

Personally, I had a blast playing the Sailor Moon RPG and Cooking Mama. The only reason I won't touch The Sims is that I know how addicted I get.

While the female leads are admittedly fewer than the males, there are also the inhuman/ungendered leads that make up a LOT of the games today which are never mentioned. And the female leads get a LOT more exposure, look at the marketing for Chun Li versus Akuma.

When we stop these silly ideas about who needs what, then we'll have a group of people loving their games without reference to outmoded concepts like gender labelling.

If I want to rescue a princess, fine. If I want to be the princess rescuing the prince, fine. Just let me (and everyone else) play :)

Dele:

iblis666:

http://www.frsa.com/pixfemuscle/MariannaKomlos.jpg

some how i could imagine a woman wearing the power armor

Some_how I can see the marketing team doing a group suicide.

what your telling me you wouldnt play a game with a bad ass female commando damn id be all over that like white on rice

shMerker:

That must have been very difficult to imagine.

glad some one understands

First of all, I didn't even read the whole article because I felt like the writer was yelling at me, and I don't even hold the opinion she is calling bullshit.

Second, it's not just that most games are targeted towards males, but that games have always been a dominantly male passtime. What girl wants to play a game about fashion and other girly stuff when she can just as easily do that in real-life with far more freedom than a game could ever offer? To be quite honest, books are romance movies are more the niche of women. They can live out their feminine fantasies through that. Men, however, are more keen on what can be depicted in a game.

I'm not saying "don't make games for girls." I mean, look at The Sims. That has a large fanbase of females. However, I'm saying that it's really difficult to do things like The Sims did and make a game that's marketable to girls.

Oh, and lastly...

I don't know if the writer will ever read this, but if you do...

Would you mind not acting like a total git? Yahtzee can get away with it because he's charismatic and funny. You, however, just come off as offensive and rude.

I mean, there's no reason why Gordon Freeman had to be a guy, after all, he could've just as easily been Brenda Freeman, but that's a debate for a different day

That's a simple answer, Brenda Freeman would look weird with a goatee.

I think the same goes the other way: video games tell boys that they can only be gruff, moody anti-heroes. Or, in the case of Japanese games, an effeminate cross dresser. Or in the case of black men... Cole Train! Choo-Choo!!

Difference between Cooking Mama & Science Papa is Cooking Mama is not just a cynical attempt by Activision to cash in on another companies successful franchise by giving their game a similar sounding name.

shMerker:

iblis666:
some how i could imagine a woman wearing the power armor

That must have been very difficult to imagine.

Very much so.

Really, I think the fact that these type of games continue to be made is that they continue to sell. There is a market for them, and as long as there is a market, they will continue to proliferate.

It all goes back to the old if you don't like it, don't buy it.

Tears of Blood:
First of all, I didn't even read the whole article because I felt like the writer was yelling at me, and I don't even hold the opinion she is calling bullshit.

Second, it's not just that most games are targeted towards males, but that games have always been a dominantly male passtime. What girl wants to play a game about fashion and other girly stuff when she can just as easily do that in real-life with far more freedom than a game could ever offer? To be quite honest, books are romance movies are more the niche of women. They can live out their feminine fantasies through that. Men, however, are more keen on what can be depicted in a game.

I'm not saying "don't make games for girls." I mean, look at The Sims. That has a large fanbase of females. However, I'm saying that it's really difficult to do things like The Sims did and make a game that's marketable to girls.

Oh, and lastly...

I don't know if the writer will ever read this, but if you do...

Would you mind not acting like a total git? Yahtzee can get away with it because he's charismatic and funny. You, however, just come off as offensive and rude.

couldnīt have said it better.

I love this article. Girl games suffer from the same ostracization as most other forms of "girl culture" - whether its princess parties and My Little Pony, or the daring girls who have the nerve to join the dirt biking team, there's always someone around just waiting to point out how "wrong" it is. Though in defense of Tracey John's article, that shouldn't mean that we can't hold them to the same standards as any other game... in terms of subjecting them to critique, analysis and discussion, as well as demanding the same levels of variety, innovation, immersion, good storylines, characters, etc. etc. as any other genre. John points out a pretty important aspect of this "new wave" of girl games - they mostly all revolve around the same three or four themes, contributing to the ongoing (though admittedly quite *sparkly*) cluttering of a market that seems to be growing despite these games rather than because of them.

My beef with this new spurt of girl games isn't that they exist - I agree with Susan that they should if there's a demand for them, but that they're taking shelf space (and development efforts) away from other genres that might do a bit better at filling the substantial gap that still exists within the girls' games market. Girls play online games WAY more than console games (90%+ vs. 28%, e.g. http://gonintendo.com/viewstory.php?id=87579), and I'm pretty sure that Stardoll, BarbieGirls and The Sims aren't the only titles capturing their attention (Runescape, Club Penguin, and Free Realms are all extremely popular among girl gamers as well). When it comes to console games, Guitar Hero and Wii Sports rank way up there on girls' lists of their favourite games. I wish the industry would start looking toward girls' actual gaming habits rather than simply reproducing the same old themes that already dominate both the girls' toy aisle (a suffering market as girls now abandon their toys and dolls at younger and younger ages) AND the girls' games shelf.

If the industry is ever going to build more significant and sustainable inroads into the ever-elusive "girls market" they're going to have to add a few more tricks to their dog and pony show (hmm...dogs and ponies sounds like the premise for a new Ubisoft Imagine title). Maybe start by taking all those games that girl gamers already like and then actively market them to other, non-gamer girls? Even if it means that maybe some boys somewhere might see the game being advertised to girls? Even at the risk of associating that game with, *gasp*, girl culture? Would that really be so detrimental to sales figures? Would boys really abandon Guitar Hero just because they saw an ad during Spongebob that featured some girl players and a female voice-over?

Or maybe by finally taking a chance on "Science Mama", realizing that expanding into new markets is never risk-free, and that yet another "Princess Secret Crush" game is just as likely to tank as it is to sell? I mean, how many of these girl games have totally and utterly failed? And how many awesome and innovative girls games have been buried and left for dead by a market that emphasizes same-ness above (and to the detriment of) all else? Thomas mentions this in her blurb on The Daring Game for Girls: "Like the book, the game offers handy tips and facts as well as non-stereotypically female activities, encouraging girls to seek adventure - not boyfriends or cute clothes, for once. So, of course, no one will actually play it." Tell that to Her Interactive, makers of the extremely popular Nancy Drew games (http://www.herinteractive.com/press-release.php?id=9). There's so much untapped and unchanneled potential out there, yet all the industry's powerhouses (EA, Ubisoft, etc.) seem to be able to come up with is more of the same. And when a "different" game does somehow manage to get through, they fail to promote it, thereby letting the "market" "prove" there's no room for innovation.

Or maybe by realizing that girls aren't going to be drawn into gaming as a lifelong passion by themes and characters alone (although they are important). Design is so key to attracting new players...intuitive controls, rich environments and, of course, accessibility. The really sad thing about many of the girl games currently on the market - [and I know I'm going to get some negative responses from this, but here goes] - is how poorly they're designed. Clunky, buggy, overly-restrictive, with limited customizability and very low re-playability. Too much endless grinding at repetitive, mostly mindless (and buggy!) mini-games that have little or no relationship with the larger game. And this has been a shockingly pervasive feature of girl games ever since the first wave happened in the mid-1990s. There are of course a number of well designed, innovative titles as well, but these are way too few and far between. I anticipate that most of the titles in this newest batch will reproduce the norm, not the exception.

All of which really makes me wonder...who and what is this niche really for anyway?

I understand why many people think that "girl games" are stupid; once you are mature enough, many things that you liked in the past are "dumb". I fail to understand why the "boy games" are not being included in this article/rant. What about all of the Lego games? Don't those qualify?

Furthermore, I fail to see the issue between having a male vs. female protagonist. Who cares if the game is good? I personally do not give a rat's behind if I am playing a male or female; I am confident enough in my double X's that I do not need to be defined by my game's characters.

The simple truth is that young girls like stupid things. They like shopping and makeup and boys and ponies and glitter and The Jonas Brothers and a whole legion of other things that will make you feel like your brain is dissolving if you think about them for too long.

My problem is ths apparent failure to acknowledge that the things young boys like are stupid. Things like robots and army men and running around going "pew!pew!" and shooting things and screaming metal music.

Oh wait... [and wait again, because of course Root made this point already, but it bear repeating.]

There is nothing more inherently intelligent in shooting than shopping, and yet somehow only one of them gets labeled as "dumb." This is a pattern throughout the gaming industry, where things that guys like are considered the standard by which all other activities are measured. I notice that the term "casual" gaming is inevitably attached to games that are played mostly by women, even when there is hardly anything casual about it. If my female roommate spends more hours playing Zuma than I do playing Halo, with the stated intent of beating the game (NOT an easy thing to do), how is her playing somehow more casual than mine? If she spent more time finishing Myst than I did finishing Fable, why isn't she the "hardcore" gamer in the household?

Of course, since girl stuff is dumb, then might as well give them a dumb game about it, right? And if girls don't really play games, there's not much point to putting any serious development into them, right? The idiocy of this is, of course, that game studios that think like this are shrugging themselves out of half their potential customer base. Well, we have never really figured out what girls like, so the games are never successful. I see. I wonder if hiring women developers might help with that a little bit?

I agree that it's important to fight for the right to be silly, to like pink and being pretty. Really, though, what I want is for these elements to stop being so polarized. I want girls to be able to play silly pink games without being disrespected for it, and beyond that, I want guys to be able to play silly pink games without being disrespected for it. Femininity is not shameful (in either sex). Playing a game that came in a pink box with a girl on the cover will not give the player cooties. Making the world safe for girl gamers is good. Making the world safe for girly gamers is better.

Speaking as a guy who gets schooled regularly in multiple areas by friends who take pleasure in the color of their nails as they whoop me in games, will go on hiking trips of +100 miles over mountains in the period of a few days, I can say that there's a lot more dichotomy that what's stereotyped. Same girls actually painted their nails on the summit of a mountain after we took the time to set up camp, while waiting for dinner to cook. One of them let me borrow both cooking mama and Super Princess Peach--both phenomenal games, good gameplay, and a reasonable label as a girl game. No reason to assume that just because they like one, they don't like the others, they're not mutually exclusive things.

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