« Power Fantasy | Main | Think You're Indie? Think You're Sexy? »

02/18/2005

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Foopy

I can say lots of things about the kinds of games I like, and some things about the kinds of games my friends like, but I don't feel comfortable saying what people in my age range or gender or ethnicity group like, because all of those groups seem way too diverse to really make a generalization about.

It strikes me not so much that "girl" games focus on social interaction, fashion design, and collecting things, but that most of them do it all very poorly. Other games which excel at these things--Animal Crossing, The Sims, or World of Warcraft, for instance--are enjoyable by a wide variety of people in all kinds of demographic groups.

I feel similarly uncomfortable about making broad generalizations about Disney movies; I, for one, really enjoyed Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and the Emperor's New Groove, but The Lion King was a total piece of crap.

Foopy

I can say lots of things about the kinds of games I like, and some things about the kinds of games my friends like, but I don't feel comfortable saying what people in my age range or gender or ethnicity group like, because all of those groups seem way too diverse for me to really make a generalization about.

It strikes me not so much that "girl" games focus on social interaction, fashion design, and collecting things, but that most of them do it all very poorly. Other games which excel at these things--Animal Crossing, The Sims, or World of Warcraft, for instance--are enjoyable by a wide variety of people in all kinds of demographic groups.

I feel similarly uncomfortable about making broad generalizations about Disney movies; I, for one, really enjoyed Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and the Emperor's New Groove, but The Lion King was a total piece of crap.

Casey

Saying that any particular group is too diverse to make generalizations about is such a cop-out. We say it because making those kinds of generalizations is a little close to discrimination for our comfort (which is to say that it vaguely resembles it).

We're not talking about tailor-making games for each individual here. We're talking about hitting a mark that will splatter and hit as many people in a group as possible. As diverse as people are, they are also flexible. I played Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, and I loved the magical setting and the great character and relationship development. Then, when Warrior Within came out and I found out they had turned it into some adolecent-sex-fantasy-dark-grimy-prowrestling-motif travesty, I played it anyway and had lots of fun because it was close enough in all the ways that really mattered.

There's always a bell curve, but it you hit it in the middle, that's a good start, and you can work you're way out from there. But first we have to get used to the fact that some groups of people are different from other groups of people in fundamental ways.

Foopy

I see your point, and I admit that I was wrong about my point about generalizations; what I said was largely in reaction to the fact that many women I know who play games enjoy at least some of the three things Jane mentioned were properties of "girl" games: social interaction, fashion design, and collecting things.

In fact, a lot of the things that Jane seemed to write off as "girlish" are sentiments held not only by a number of my female friends, but some of my male friends as well, and I resent the attitude that all women (in general) should find those kinds of things horrifying, as I personally find them to be great aspects of games when done the right way. Perhaps my female friends are all "exceptions to the rule", but honestly, my guess is that about as many grown-up women would still love to be the princess in a fantasy story as grown-up men would still love to be the knight in shining armor.

jane

i don't mean to "write off" any aspects of girl games. on the contrary, i'm arguing for giving them more respect. there's a reason kids like them, and we should pay attention to that. this is in reaction to disparaging reviews of Lizzy McGuire games i see on IGN, and all i can think of is, well duh, this game wasn't made for you, adult (and probably male) reviewer. this is also in reaction to the planet gamecube editorial i cited which says things like, "girly (sometimes insulting) objectives, awkward controls, and shallow gameplay. Top that all off with the fact that the game itself isn't even fun."

have you played any "girl games"? a lot of them are monstrously boring - to adults. and cloying. and annoying. but that's my point - they're not made for us.

i don't see where i've ever come across as being against games that feature social interaction, collecting, and so on. of course i love animal crossing. i've written about it several times. and many adults love the power fantasy aspect of games (which many adults also hate). i loved prince of persia - my sister wrote a humorous review of it, from a rather "girly" perspective.

but listen, lots of reviewers and gamers criticize girl games as being condescending; as being too focussed on shopping, fashion, boys. but i want to rethink the source of our condescension. there's definitely a place for all that frivolity in girl games. and in a lot of other games too. i mean, that's why they're fun. it's not like we play them to get a better grasp of Dostoevsky. although that would be intriguing.

i think it must be extraordinarily difficult to produce games for children. market research can be tricky - i'm reminded of a Simpsons episode where toy makers try to create Funzo, the ultimate toy - who should be cute and cuddly and also shoot lasers out of his eyes and do homework. i have a great deal of respect for people who choose to make games for children. and i hope they can be as fun as possible. but we're not necessarily the ultimate judges of that, are we? let the kids decide.

Foopy

Oops.

I think I've been misinterpreting your original post; as I rather ignorantly didn't read the editorial you cited, I didn't realize that you were responding to other reviewers' claims of "girl games" being too shallow; instead, I thought you were responding to readers' accusations that women and girls only enjoy games that involve social interaction, fashion, and collecting things, and that you were labeling those things as shallow and worthless.

Sorry about that.

Coincidentally, though, one of the reasons I was interested in your post is because I've recently finished developing a game for young girls, and I enjoy playing it. I don't really see what's any more "shallow" about it, thematically speaking, than killing demons, shooting people, or many of the other things lots of highly-rated games feature; the primary reason our game won't be winning any awards, in my opinion, is because our publisher's development schedule was far too short to allow us to really make the gameplay deep--but it was not because our game involved social interaction, fashion, collecting things, and similar "girly" concepts.

Another thing to note is that a lot of these "girly" concepts can be hard to model in a video game; a handful of games like The Sims and Animal Crossing are particularly good at it, but it's fairly difficult to model something like interpersonal communication in a way that provides for truly lasting gameplay. At least, it seems more difficult to me than modeling physical conflict--although I'm no expert on the latter, as this game is the first one I've developed.

Casey

There's a very good point there about shallowness. Why aren't violent "boy games" condemned for assuming that boys want to shoot things and blow things up? Is that not equally demeaning to males? There is this assumption, as Foopy mentioned, that its difficult to model things that girls like, but I don't think that's giving boys enough credit. Yes, boys tend to like violence, but they also like crime drama and comics with really convoluted plots. I mean, I'm a guy (btw), I wish games had more depth and were more sophisticated than they are. And I think most game developers want that same thing, and they're working on it. We're just not there yet.

So I don't think lack of sophistication is really a girl-game-specific problem. So maybe the whole idea of distinguishing girls from women is more a matter of distinguishing children from adults ,and may even be a moot point until we learn to develope more sophisticated games.

DannoHung

I don't think there's a difference between what girls and boys have a genuine predisposition to except on this one point: violence versus socialization.

Men are VERY violence focused. I walk around all the time just thinking to myself "I wanna kick some ass, I wanna kick some ass, I wanna kick some ass." Even when I'm not totally calm, I'm just thinking how awesome it would be if like, 20 ninjas dropped out of the cieling and I had to beat them to a pulp. Socialization amongst other guys is generally easy at this point, because we all know that we just want to be totally awesome and kick some ass. If we're just talking about kickin' some ass, then we're good buddies. Simple as that.

I can't speak from experience, but I imagine that women place significantly different values on violence and socialization. I watch my sister who's in High School now and there are all these weird power struggles she experiences with her friends over things that I can't really comprehend. When I talk to her about it, my answers unilaterally involve either A) Why is this casuing problems? or B) Why don't you just beat them up?

Where was I?

Oh yeah. Everything else is secondary. Fashion Design? Heh, don't ask me how long I'll sit at a car or ship or what have you customization screen tweaking my avatar to perfection (I must've spent an hour screwing around with Halo 2 just to get the right color setup). Boys are total collection whores too. And that's not even a video game thing itself.

So, as for why video games for women aren't really more mature? The answer is simply that socialization is a complex thing to model. Violence is very simple at it's base level. There are two verbs that can encompass most violence: attack and defend. How do you define the verbs for socialzation? I wouldn't even know where to start let alone where to take it.

Sorry if this is rambling and incoherent, it's a little... early.

kayaltos

I think girls and women like the same games. I mean girls afteer 10 and games as video games.

The comments to this entry are closed.

Subscribe to the mailing list!

* indicates required