Thursday, June 4, 2009

Girl games make their mark at E3

Testosterone-fueled video games were muscled aside at times at this week’s E3 show by gentle estrogen-powered games.
Games about cute pets, pajama parties, dresses and makeup were given their moment in the spotlight at media events held by major game publishers. The young male-dominated games press acted stereotypically immature when these games were introduced.
They cheered derisively and hooted and hollered when Electronic Arts, Sony and Ubisoft Entertainment projected art and video for their tween girls’ games during their presentations. Other attendees chuckled at the mischief makers’ over-the-top, feigned enthusiasm for the girly games.
I felt like I was back in junior high with all the boys-vs.-girls antics.
The comic belittling of girls’ games seemed to grow with each successive press conference.
When Sony, which held the last pre-show press conference, introduced its pink PlayStation Portable bundled with a Disney “Hannah Montana” game, the wolf pack shouted “Whoo-hoo!,” “Yes!” and “All right!”
It was the kind of enthusiasm reserved for some blood-drenched survival horror game or violent military combat game, the types of games popular with young men.
My message to the young men with gamer blogs and publications: Grow up. The video game market is big enough to support your “red meat” games, as analyst Billy Pidgeon called them in IBD, and games for other players.
I heard one young woman at E3 complain that the show was a “sausage fest,” meaning too many guys. (See the Urban Dictionary definition.)
The Entertainment Software Association’s 2009 Essential Facts guide to the industry says 60% of gamers are male.
At E3, Electronic Arts showed off its “Littlest Pet Shop” and “Charm Girls Club” games. Ubisoft touted its “Petz,” “Imagine” and “Style Lab” franchises for tween girls.
Ubisoft says its Imagine line for young girls is its fastest growing game franchise.
Perhaps change is in the air.

Screenshot for Electronic Arts’ “Charm Girls Club: Pajama Party” for Nintendo Wii
Box cover art for Ubisoft Entertainment’s “Imagine Fashion Designer” for Nintendo DS

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