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In favor of video games for girls – just not these!

By Sarah Klein

Many parents worry about the effects that video games will have on their kids. And rightly so. Despite the many fun and family-friendly games that have been released in recent years, there are still dozens of M-rated games that are often violent, display sexual images, and are downright inappropriate. Then there are others that are equally worrisome but for a different set of reasons.

In an effort to attract female players, a slew of tween-targeted games for girls have popped up. It is commendable that the gaming industry has finally caught on to the fact that girls and young women enjoy the gaming experience as well as boys. But some of these games attempt to reinforce dangerous  stereotypes in the young minds of our daughters when they are arguably at their most vulnerable.

While there are many examples, consider these three:

  • Culprit #1: The Clique: Diss and Make Up – This Nintendo DS game was launched this summer, inspired by the best-selling book series The Clique. Players manipulate the characters to dress up and gossip their way through middle school social cliques until they are worthy of joining the "Pretty Committee."
  • Culprit #2: Clueless – Available for online play as well as for download, the point of this game, based on the famous Alicia Silverstone movie, is to find the perfect outfit that will attract the perfect boyfriend.
  • Culprit #3: Boy Toy – While for a distinctly older audience, this online game from Cosmopolitan magazine requires players to manipulate a male character to keep a female character happy by getting her drinks from a "bar" and picking up bouquets of flowers. The "happier" you keep the female character, the more points you are awarded. But watch out for the creepy guy and the "skanky ex-girlfriend", warns the game's description.

No matter how overly violent "boy" games may be, they are often about action-packed adventures, problem-solving, creativity, and in the case of group gaming, teamwork. These girls' games on the other hand pit girls against each other, focus on beauty, fashion, and cattiness, and depict young women as only being happy with the attention of a man.

Just because the lessons girls learn from these games aren't as blatantly negative as the violent and over-sexed images in a game like Grand Theft Auto, doesn't mean that they aren't as equally damaging.

Comment by iDemi, posted 11/11/2009, 7:07 AM:

You make a good point.I was browsing through the local EB Games, looking for a decent game to get my younger step sister.
I promised her quality, good plot and something she would like. Seeing how I didn't think buying her a copy of Apollo Justice Ace Attorney (one of my favs) would be acceptable on her mom's standard, I was stuck. All the games geared towards the young female audience are terrible! UGH! I hope the video game industry makes a change,or else the young girl gamers are doomed.
Comment by Xavierism, posted 10/19/2009, 10:35 AM:

Bon dia! A good friend and I were talking about this very same topic. She mentioned that she wasn't pleased with many of the video games that were available for her 11 year old daughter. I'll have to pass this post on to her. Over the weekend, I watched about an hour of 'Clueless'. Oh the 90's...weren't they fabu fabulous? *Cheers*
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