Games for Girls: Nintendo’s Failed Grab for the Girl Gamer Crown

If there’s anything we’ve learned from Disney over the years, it’s that princesses sell. In fact, even if a girl isn’t a princess, she ends up being turned into a princess all for the sake of marketing—is it any wonder why toys of Lilo and Stitch are no longer being made despite the strength of the film itself? There’s something timeless about a princess, or at least the concept of them, and the movie industry hasn’t been the only one to notice this. Many modern games still employ princesses as a trope or a stand-in collectible, both of which aren’t really ideal for the representation of ladies in games. But let’s bring this back to marketability and the line-up of one very specific puzzle in the 3DS Mii Plaza.

Nintendo Starlets 3DSEver since I saw it, I knew that I’d have to complete the ‘Nintendo Starlets’ puzzle no matter how many people I’d need to street pass to get the pieces. Obviously I knew Princess Peach would be on there, but the other characters were a mystery to me: which female characters would Nintendo deign to put on the same rank as the pinnacle of princessliness herself?

As I continued getting pieces, though, I became more and more disappointed. Rosalina was the next princess I unlocked: not unexpected, and my feelings on her are rather neutral. Then Zelda. Then… Zelda again. And finally Pauline. I don’t know about you, but there’s something incredibly boring about this group. The disappointment came twofold: from a girl who didn’t sign up for a puzzle called “Nintendo Princesses” and from a Nintendo fan who knows that Nintendo has a wealth of female characters to choose from, or at least enough that they didn’t have to use Zelda twice.

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Games for Girls: A Not-So Hidden Bias

In terms of the two clear, gender-divided, advertiser-defined areas of the gaming audience, it can be exceedingly difficult, even impossible, to draw direct parallels. Comparing a game like Gears of War to Hello Kitty: Roller Rescue, while in a sense comparing a game that’s stereotypically appealing to a male audience to one intended for a female audience, does nothing to explore the finer intricacies that attempt to further deepen the divide between gamers, but instead gives way to the simple, generally assumed idea that games created with girls as their target audience are to be ridiculed. While several games of this genre certainly deserve their infamous status, there are also many of this genre that undeservedly get lumped in with the negative sentiments of their kin. Today I hope to shed more light on one of these games while also exploring why its sibling game got a much better rep. Today, we see how the acclaimed DS game, Elite Beat Agents, stacks up against Princess Debut.

girlgamesIf ever there was a gaming genre which would be at the bottom of the list for gender comparison, it would be the rhythm games. In the American market, the only other rhythm game I can think of that had notable characters would be Dance Dance Revolution. Even then, saying that those characters actually are in possession of character would be questionable. Despite other games like Project Diva—games with not fully fleshed out characters, but characters that have an inkling of a personality—coming out, I think it’s safe to assume that people don’t play rhythm games for the entrancing story nor the memorable characters. However, this is what both of the games in question have. To an extent.

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Wanted: A New Generation of Heart-Breakers

dragon-age-500x250When it comes to video games, I’m biased. A game can have the most stunning graphics or the newest, most innovative gameplay, but if the writing sucks I’m not going to give it a second glance. It’s the writers, the perhaps more overlooked members of the video game creation process, that really steal my heart (and crush it sometimes). Because of this undying love for an art I have the utmost respect for, I am pleased to introduce you to one of my favorites, David Gaider.

Gaider, self-professed “lover of fan tears”, is the lead writer for Bioware’s Dragon Age franchise and he’s surprisingly very involved with his fanbase. So much so in fact that he recently—as in within the last month—began his very own Tumblr. Needless to say, we fans freaked.

Now, it would have been simple for him to do what most of us do on Tumblr: reblog images we like and leave a couple witty comments if the mood strikes us. Whereas there is, of course, some of that, what Gaider offers by means of his intelligence and experience in the gaming industry is the main draw. Currently he has a conversation going on called “On Narrative Design” which explores how exactly an idea for a story goes through the process of getting into the final product of a game. Not only that, but he also discusses some of the industry’s own shortcomings, such as not hiring enough females.

If you’re interested in getting a writing position in the gaming industry, or just fascinated in how this process works (as I am), I would highly recommend reading through his posts. No matter what this man may have done to your feels in the past, his knowledge is indispensable. Who knows, you may even use his own tools against him someday.

The Problem With Let’s Plays

Recently, some drama has been stirred up in the LP (short for ‘Let’s Play’: people playing through games on YouTube, usually with commentary) community, specifically by the veterans at the Retsupurae channel against one of the most suddenly popular LPers, PewDiePie. Almost exactly a week ago, the fellows at Retsupurae released a video compilation of several people watching Pewdie videos and having less than favorable responses. This article is not a straight-out bash on Pewdie—I think he’s a genuinely nice guy that’s trying his hardest to entertain his demographic—but from watching the video it made me reconsider my own reasons for liking his channel, for enjoying LPs in general. There’s a staggeringly dangerous trend on the rise in currently popular LPs and it’s very well showcased in the video from Retsupurae.

I mean, of course, the baffling persistence of rape jokes. Continue reading

Games for Girls: Why?

Once upon a time about six years ago in a Gamestop, not so different from a store near you, I came across an in-store display. “Games for Girls” it read in its lavender lettering, flowers adorning the sides. I doubt any guy bought the games that were in that display. Indeed, I can’t imagine any girl buying many of the games in there either. If you’ve spent any time anywhere, you probably know the games that were displayed: Imagine: Babies, Girls Mode, Cooking Mama, some horse game. I exchanged a knowing look with the female cashier, chuckled a bit, and went on my way, but the advertisement has never left my mind in all these long years. I had never really wondered why before a couple days ago. It’s beyond a simple incredulity about the stupidity of the campaign and I’m discovering this area of gaming is much greyer than I originally thought.

What are ‘games for girls’?

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Web Crush Wednesdays: Bioware According to Mom

Let’s face it: the gaming market is slowly shifting towards the more casual player. It seemed especially clear at this year’s E3 as, while there were a decent amount of games made specifically for hardcore gamers, the focus shifted towards more accessible games like Just Dance and peripherals such as the Wonderbook. This trend also has been knocking at our backdoor for a while now, if Facebook games like Farmville are any indication. A more massive audience is willing to be tapped for money for simpler and simpler gameplay as long as the graphics are clean, and if there’s one thing companies like, it’s an open wallet. However, my webcrush this week is a more balanced view into the future of the gamer culture. Or, at least I hope so. It’s a site where the casual and the more hardcore collide via two forces of nature we can all relate to: parent and child.

BioWare According to Mom is a fabulous little tumblr which documents Reg’s, the tumblr runner’s, mom as she plays through Mass Effect 2. Reg’s mom is not what one would call a gamer right off the bat, but she is completely endearing by how much she gets into her game. After reading a couple posts, you’ll be introduced to the full cast, including Krogar (Grunt), Sith Judge Wizard (Samara), and Beans (Garrus), but more so than the characters, you yourself will become invested in Reg’s mom’s journey as she travels through space, picking off bad guys.

Reg, on the other hand, serves as a sort of “straight man” for the entire blog; the more hardcore side of the gamer coin. She runs the line between enjoying the twisted story of space justice her mother is creating and hoping, somewhere in the depths of her heart, that her mother will end up with a sufficient team for end-game.

The thing that I like about this tumblr is that it’s all about the experience of gaming, rather than the skill of gaming. Reg barely, if ever, talks about her mother’s gaming skill. Also, the humor isn’t in “wow, look at this stupid decision my mom made”, it’s over the silly things all gamers do when we play a game we get invested in. We make up nicknames for the characters. We decide who lives and dies by arbitrary reasons that, hey, sometimes may sound totally out there to others. Though this blog is mainly for humor, it’s such a beautiful collaboration between two types of gamers that are usually at each other’s throats. Gamers need to start following this model and instead of complaining that casual gamers are ruining the market, take it upon themselves to introduce their more casual friends to a series they may enjoy. Also, allow these friends to show them the perhaps more casual games they enjoy and don’t lambast them for it. We, as a gaming community, should be working towards a unity of sorts, rather than deepening the crevice between the two sectors.