Posted by: Dark Defender | January 16, 2009

Good ole reflexive feminism

A grave danger faces the women of the world, and fortunately MSNBC is here to bring the danger to our attention:

Since launching its Imagine brand in late 2007, Ubisoft has confirmed what it already suspected: There’s gold in girl gamers. The company has put out 15 girl-centered titles since last year — games such as “Fashion Designer,” “Movie Star,” “Master Chef” and “Babyz.” And it’s sold 8 million copies of the games worldwide.

But some experts — and lay people — are concerned that gender-specific games can send the wrong message to young girls. When the games launched, more than a few bloggers took the company to task for seeming to trade on tired old stereotypes.

“I would love to know what else Ubisoft is doing for girls, other than shopping, fashion and pets. Anything?” wrote Alice Taylor on her Wonderland blog. Even Kotaku, a decidedly dude-heavy game site, put up a post with the snarky headline: “Ubisoft puts women in their place.”

Key points to the sales of the games as proof that they’re resonating with young girls. “Stereotypical? That’s kind of like painting a brush against an entire product line that’s actually performing very well and the audience told us (that) they really want,” he says. “We’re still largely unchallenged in the girl space.”

That’s not entirely true. Disney Interactive (formerly Buena Vista Games) has been making games based off their popular TV showsfor five years, starting with the girly Hilary Duff vehicle, “Lizzie Maguire.” And Bellevue-Wa.-based Her Interactive has been making its PC-based Nancy Drew games for girls for a decade

The success of the Nancy Drew line — 6.6 million copies sold — shows that there’s an appetite for smart, plucky heroines in games. And I wish there were more of them. I don’t have any problem with games about ballet and clothes, but why aren’t there more female adventurers (other than Lara Croft) in video games? Where are the female soldiers? The female athletes? Haven’t the good people at EA Sports heard about Title IX?

Females represent 38 percent of gamers, according to the market research company the NPD Group. Ubisoft made a good business decision with its Imagine line, and it’s certainly helped the bottom line. But can’t we do better for our girls? Shouldn’t we want more for them than a game where the objective is to become an A-list movie star? As a soon-to-be parent, I can tell you, resoundingly, yes.

Ok so did you catch all that? Girls are in peril because we are forcing stereotypes on them by only marketing “traditional girl games” to them, except that were not and some games aimed for girls in fact do put them in non-traditional roles, not to mention the many many “mainstream” games do in fact feature female protagonists (and no its not just Lara Croft, its far too many to list here, see the wikipedia entry for female video game protagonists also what kind of a “journalist” doesnt even google “list of female protagonists in video games” before writing a rant like this?)….so (sniff sniff) cant we do better?? 

Er what exactly would better be? Is the author seriously advocating a title IX for video games? Does she want video game makers to be forced to churn out titles aimed at girls that their market research shows wont be successful? Or does she want to restrict the number of games produced which males might buy until the video game market is 50/50 gender wise?

What kind of insane troll logic is this? Is the author ignorant of the video game market, or just so blinded by her ideology she cant see the forest for the trees?

It seems to me that if you look at the history of video games (which admittedly has been male dominated) the story of the past few years has been women’s emergence.  Instead of writing a reflexive feminist rant on “why oh why cant the market do what I want?” she could have written an illuminating story about how women are entering a traditionally male sphere and the market is responding to them.   Isn’t that a good thing? Shouldn’t feminists be pleased by this, not raising the spectre of government regulation?

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Responses

  1. The author is the MSNBC games editor! I don’t know, but that probably makes it worse! Although anyone can be a journo these days, as long as they’ve got the right connections. Subject knowledge isn’t a prior requirement, as this article clearly demonstrates! I saw a similar article on a tv show recently about how games were roo violent and shouldn’t be allowed to be played by children, with the journalist failing to acknowledge that the games already had age certificates on them! Knee-jerk central!

    Good article, anyhoo. Well spotted and reasonably put! 🙂

  2. Government intervention is always the answer to our social ills, including the imagined ones.

    Seriously though: Seamus from Metroid. Metroid is one of the longest-lasting and most popular gaming franchises in Nintendo’s catalogue, and not because of any Lara Croftish sex appeal either. Not that anyone at MSNBC noticed…


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