BuzzFeed Shift has a long post today on video games aimed at tween girls, in which writer Hillary Reinsberg tries some popular games for the iPhone and computer and walks away pretty bummed:
What I found was even worse than I expected: not only are the games pretty poorly designed and uncreative in their storylines, they also teach misguided values. Many of the games taught that romantic partners should be rich and buy you things; that shopping for pricey clothes is the way to get ahead; and that stereotypically female jobs and activities, like working at a fashion magazine or baking, are the only options for girls. This isn’t the way to go about raising the next generation of strong, empowered women.
In other words: Video games are just like TV and movies.
There’s the game (episode/movie montage) where you shop, the one where you give a friend a prom makeover, the one where you run a taco shop (sexist!), and the one where you own a salon. On this last one, Reinsberg presumably doesn’t object to the owning of a small business as much as the tasks involved: “You must quickly begin washing people’s feet and moving them into a hot tub over and over again, and then remembering to press the cleaning button to clean the chairs.” Which is a lot like the job of working in an actual nail salon. (Coming soon: Barbara Ehrenreich for PS3). All of the games Reinsberg tried sound really boring and basic, but it’s hard to get worked up about consumer products for girls in this medium being exactly like consumer products for girls in other mediums. The lowest common denominator takeaway is anything but surprising.
My favorite game Reinsberg describes is called Modern Girl, where your character has just arrived in New York City. “The goals are to dress cool, get a hot boyfriend, and to work your way up the ranks of a magazine.” It’s Girls, the video game.