Girl in the Machine
Friday, August 31, 2007
A Look into the Industry's Perception of "Girl Games"


Since I had offered my opinion of the notorious Imagine games as well as reading Bombergirl's take on the "girl games" phenomenon, I decided to do a little research of what some video game company's are really saying about the "girl" market. I came across an article off of Yahoo that did little to alleviate my dread. The title? "Videogame industry hopes to harness girl power." Guh. Well, let's take a look, shall we?

Can "High School Musical" and "Hannah Montana" finally take girl gaming to the next level?

Uh, what? Considering the mindless "girl games" we've had in the past, I guess just about anything with skill would take it to the next level. I'm going to assume they're referring to tweens when they say girls, because otherwise I would be very depressed right now.

"The demand for both the 'High School Musical' and 'Hannah Montana' games has been enormous among retailers," Disney Interactive GM Graham Hopper said. "I think the industry is starting to wake up to the fact that girls play games."

Why are "High School Musical" and "Hannah Montana" the Holy Grail of girl videogames all of a sudden? Do they think only boys play Mario games or something?

The problem has been that girls and women tend to be among the most casual players, interested in easy-to-pick-up social games but not consistently shelling out $30-$50 for more complex fare.

Okay, I can't be charitable with this one because the quotation says both girls and women; this is wrong on so many levels. I could maybe let it slide if it just left it at not spending $30-$50 for a game (even that's a stretch--I know several female gamers who would readjust their food budget to snag a new release, me included), but for more "complex" fare? Did we just discover why most "girl" games have been drivel? We'll get back to this later.

"The real key is to get girls to begin obsessing over games the way they might obsess over a boy band or shows like 'High School Musical,"'

Boy bands? Who even listens to boy bands anymore? They were popular when I was in middle school, for chrissake. I didn't get sucked back in time, did I?

Other companies, most notably the now-defunct Acclaim, had some solid sales in the past with games based on the Olsen twins. But they also might have done more harm than good because many of those properties lacked the thing that keeps girls coming back, which is good gameplay.

We finally get to something I can congratulate this article for: they realized that all the "girl" games that existed when I was young were, under the surface, really shitty games. If they really want to snag the younger female market, they can't just slap a bunch of shoes or glitter or whatever into a cartridge and call it a game--it actually needs something to keep a player coming back. It needs to be engaging and fun. And yes, you couldn't make me touch those Olsen twins games with a fifteen-foot pole.

Hopper said the "High School Musical" game for the Nintendo Wii will be among the first to feature a microphone, while the upcoming "Hannah Montana": Music Jam" for the DS will allow up to four players to play various wireless instruments together.

I can't tell you how nice it is to see games directed at young girls that aren't about shopping. It's good that they've added all these interactive elements as well, especially with the different instruments.

As Bombergirl stated in her article, vapid "girl" games can lead to a deadly stream of thought from "Girl games are stupid" to "Girls are stupid." While I've mentioned that I disagree with marketing games to a particular sex, I am happy to see companies focusing more on the gameplay than just slapping a television show character on the cover and hoping a few girls will pick it up.

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 Posted by PlasmaRit
 11:16 AM + Link to this post
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