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Games for Girls

Why hasn’t anyone made any computer games for girls?

*the vid really picks up around the 7 minute mark- but up till then is still good exposition 

I’ll be honest, I don’t actually know that much about video games (maybe because I never had a desire to kill virtual aliens…and isn't that the central problem?) but as far as I’m concerned, the video games that at least have female protagonists aren’t really for females…watching Lara Croft shoot virtual enemies doesn’t really make me feel empowered, just like I’m watching another sexualized male fantasy.

Apparently, back in 1998, Brenda Laurel, a bad ass innovator who revolutionized technology, did think of this and created a video game for girls aged 8-14 - one of the first attempts to market video games to girls. As she stated, “It can’t just be a giant sexist conspiracy, these people aren’t that smart. There’s six billion dollars on the table they would go for it if they could figure out how.”

And she did figure out how through her game series following Rockett, an eighth grader at a new school. She really zeroed in on what girls would find interesting in a virtual reality: making decisions, creating a story line, escaping from the pressure of their own reality and entering a new persona. And as she stated, in its prime it ranked right along with Madden Football in sales.

Of course, she got a lot of criticism. According to the video [beginning of post] she got backlash from two groups of people who thought they knew both what gaming should be (violence for men) and what little girls should be (able to play those violent games because creating something specifically for girls was sexist).

Here’s the thing: Girls like decision-making and stories, and would take that over violence any day, of that I’m sure. What I’m not sure of are boys. Do they actually like killing everything in their sight or would they prefer instead to create a story and make decisions as well if they were marketed to in the proper way without the attached masculinity standards?

In this sense, I don’t think its sexist to not market violence to girls. I think its enforcing masculinity standards (not to mention a whole array of lovely violent tendencies) to have those types of games at all.

And what happened to the Rockett video games, because they sure as hell weren’t around by the time I hit the prime gaming age. Well, Purple Moon, the company that produced the game, was folded into Mattel, for reasons I’m not totally clear on. But I'm pretty sure the reasons don't include a lack of interest or truth in girls not liking games.

So, I think the question is: which one of us is going to revive the girl gaming revolution?



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Julie Zeilinger
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