Girls! Ever wanted to be part of a club that mocks you for every effort you make? Wow, you’ve done your hair today – here, have a shiny jewelled piece of pixilated nonsense to make your lives seem worthwhile and fulfilled. Oh look, you’ve organised that much needed sleepover that girls apparently do every weekend – here, have a new BFF. Excellent – you’ve now also managed to put some clothes on and go on a virtual date with a boy, why don’t you have yourself another slice of meaningless claptrap in the form of a shiny gemstone which you can also place inside your jewellery box. Had enough? I sure have.
In terms of aspirations, games for girls leave us all with quite a foul taste in our mouths. Electronic Arts announced at the E3 Gaming Expo 2009 a couple of days ago that they were going to release a selection of games that appealed more to girl gamers. They’ve decided to call the franchise the Charm Girls Club – visit the website at your own peril, plus shouldn’t there be an apostrophe in there somewhere? Now, if you read my article on Della – Dell’s new website for women – last week, then you’ll probably have a fair idea of where I’m going to go with this. If not, buckle up; you’re in for more of a ride.
Sarah Handley, Senior Director of Marketing of the EA Play Label commented, “Girls are gamers too and EA wants to provide them with games that are fun, fabulous and appeal to their interests.” Fabulous? There’s an entirely different section of society that utilise this word and it sure as hell, as much as Pinocchio will never be a real live boy, isn’t the female section. I am, yet again, astounded that such products have been allowed to exist. I shudder to think what life is like in Ms. Handley’s mind, but I think it’s fair to say that it’s fluffy and fluorescent pink.
What is it about these stereotypes that forces companies to abandon all of their common sense and continue to push girls into a corner of all things sparkly and soft? The reason I get so riled is that there is a vast percentage of the female population that don’t give a damn about ‘being girly’ or painting their nails a different colour every week. There are quite a few of us who enjoy the same things boys do, as there are boys who don’t like sports or blowing things up. Why is it that there are so many games for boys that cater for a variety of spectrums, hobbies and appeal to lots of personalities. But, games for girls seem to revolve around patting girls on the head and rewarding them with a shiny bauble when they’ve completed some inane, aesthetic makeover.
This range is quite clearly for the younger female, but borders on all things ludicrous and may as well be about stealing as far as I’m concerned because neither of them appears to be good for you. They have decided to release several titles for the Wii and the DS in 2009 and my mouth was left rather open at the options available. Here’s a run-down of what we can expect:
On the Wii, we’ll see the Charm Girls Club Pajama Party in which girls can play with the Charm Girls, or with as many as seven friends, for an ultimate interactive slumber party that will blow their minds. Girls will be able to play games like Bed Bounce, Pillow Fight, Speed Hair Teasing, plus many more hilariously themed concepts that girls apparently do all the time. I was going to make some tongue-in-cheek remark about the names of these games, but I do believe that the geniuses at Electronic Arts have beaten me to it. Using the Wii Remote’s motion-sensing technology, the Pajama Party gaming features will apparently be taken to new heights.
For the DS, there’ll be My Perfect Prom, where girls choose the perfect dress, date and work their way through dozens of activities before attending the big night out. Basically, make yourselves look pretty and you shall be rewarded henceforth. I can’t really recall any games for boys that are this shallow. I don’t know about you ladies, but the thought of doing these activities twice in one day sounds utterly revolting. I wake up every morning feeling rather dishevelled and put on whatever I can fit into, given that I’d probably scoffed an entire medium Dominos ‘Mighty Meaty’ Pizza the night before.
So, imagine the thought of having some inanimate object telling me that I have failed in my task to get ready, dressed and looking fabulous for some date that doesn’t even count as actual social interaction, as there isn’t even an artificially intelligent boy on the other end telling me that I have a ‘great personality’ and that we should just be friends. Perhaps it’d be better to aspire to something else more self-loathing. This title might be better off being called My Perfect Pr0n, in which ladies are encouraged to try out to see how good they are at being in different types of porn films. They should be able to try out all sorts of positions and even use the Wii Fit mat to move around on. After all, it does “invite you to have fun and get healthy in the process”.
There’ll also be a game called My Fashion Show, in which girls are able to select models and outfits and then parade them down a virtual runway. The thought of being able to collect the ever-so degrading charms by doing something so vain, has to appeal to someone, but definitely doesn’t make my pupils dilate in ecstasy. This title could potentially be My Fashion Blow, where users are encouraged to do as many illegal substances as they possibly can before heading out onto the catwalk. The more you do, the more you can tolerate. Why not also extend this to real life also, where you are able to show what items of clothing should never be worn with others. I feel this would be a much more useful way to learn how to dress and look in everyday life.
Finally, we have My Fashion Mall, whereby girls manage a mall and tackle everyday mishaps – from the food court to the accessories boutique and then onto the nail salon. In the same meaningless principle, this could be called My Dashing Sprawl where the aim of the game is to get as drunk as you possibly can before falling spectacularly, head over heel, into some sort of ditch or puddle where you will be staying the night. Your points bonus rack up the more your bottom is felt up on your night out, the more clothes you decide to remove and obviously the more you drink before your character falls over. And, like the drugs one, the more you drink, the more your tolerance goes up! What an incentive to do well.
The realms of pointlessness and stupidity have been somewhat breached by my own musings, but alas, that was the point. These games do nothing to help young women aspire to be great. It saddens me to think that our younger generation is being subjected to this balderdash on a day-to-day basis. How difficult would it be to create more games that improve memory, spelling or world knowledge and have these games marketed towards adolescents as much as these ones are? If aspiring to be noticed by a boy is all we have on offer as females, then we really are in troubled times.
Dyan Williams, Senior Producer of the EA Play Label, says “With Charm Girls Club, we’re providing girls with quality games that emphasise cool characters, fun challenges, customisation and lots of collectible charm rewards that can be shared across products made just for them.” – A good question to ask is who exactly these games are aimed at – who is it amongst us that derives pleasure from having virtual pillow fights? These games do nothing but seal tight the idea that a particular hairstyle, set of clothes and certain conversation will equal success. That says more about the male species than it does the female!
It’s with this that I leave you with something that should have been made long ago; I’m still waiting for Mattel to release ‘Tattoo Barbie’.