Games for Girls?

Posted: April 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

I promise I’ll get back to the normal reviews and things soon, but today at least, I need to rant about a pet peeve of mine. This was spurred on today by an ad on the side of my Facebook profile. It had a shiny blue egg as the picture and said “Join your friends to nurture a baby dragon and watch it grow into an adult.” Okay, fine, sure. Sounds like a pretty lame game, by my standards, but to each their own. But then I spotted the title of this ad. “Women love this game!” Uh…hrm…So there’s my problem with this. These people are assuming that just because I’m female, I have this overwhelming compulsion to raise and nurture things and that doing this in any format is going to provide me with gratification.

Here’s another example. http://www.girlsgogames.com/ Lets take a look at some of their games. Match Match Wedding? Hair Mania 2? White Bride Dress Up? And who could forget the entire series of Sara’s Cooking Class games? Now I understand the historical reasons for boys playing with toy soldiers and girls getting dolls as well as the next history buff, but this is the year 2011, folks. Girls don’t have to be trained from birth to raise babies anymore. And more to the point, why are they making slow paced, happy and colorful and painfully easy games for girls? Are they trying to imply that we’re not as good at games as boys are? That’s certainly the way it comes across to me. There are entire companies out there who exist for the soul purpose of making these story based, low action games with artsy graphics for girls assuming that that’s what an entire gender wants to play.

Why not make a combat game with a strong female lead? Or how about a medical game? Pretty much any of the classic game types could be rendered very nicely with a strong female lead and turned into an empowering game instead of having them play games that basically tell girls to care about their wedding, their hair, their clothes and going in the kitchen to make me a sandwich. There are certainly some games out there doing it right. I have very strong memories of playing Metroid Prime 2 and coming across a journal entry written by one of the space marines on this planet. It talks about how the guys in her unit mock her for wanting to be a soldier but she knows she can do it because of Samus Aran, the character I was playing. Not only does the Metroid series have a strong female lead, but she’s usually working by herself and only in two of the games do you even have someone giving you orders. And then they do things like that and you actually see Samus as the hero figure she is for the women in the game world and it translates out nicely into the real world. Why don’t more games have this?

Are you gonna tell her to go in the kitchen and make you a sandwich?

When I was a kid, I loved comic books. I still do, really. But the point is, when I was a kid, my hero was Wonder Woman. I wanted to be just like her and fight evil (although, I wanted pants). I loved the idea of Themyscira, the island of the Amazons. A land with a queen and a tribe full of warrior women, with no men among them. What the video game industry needs is its own Wonder Woman. Someone like Samus, but more obviously female and less well…I love Lara Croft, but she’s a sex symbol, not a hero. I heard rumors of a new design for her that was slightly less sexed up. That might just do it.

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