But not really because of the marketing, atrocious as it may be. No, the blame for this one can largely be pushed at the developers themselves who cannibalize characters that young girls recognize and identify with for their crappy, low quality games. Sure, we could spend our time railing against the very notion that young girls identify with Bratz characters, but those are symptoms of a deeper disease, one that we're not going to cure any time soon, no matter how much we wish we could. That cancer will have to be dug out of society over time. So let's instead rail about something that is meaningful here, to us, to gamers ... a song we often sing ... can we stem this tide of craptacular pseudogames, please?
While this may seem like the segue from hell, it isn't. How many of us know girls who, at the age of 8-12, did in fact play some games ... but later, their interest evaporated? Is it because That's So Raven didn't grow with them? It's doubtful that's the reason. What's far more likely is that they buy these games, the Bratz titles and such, because those are the things they like (or their parents buy them), and they open them with all the excitement we experience at the latest Zelda or Castlevania ... but instead of the rich and fulfilling experience those games provide, they get shoddy gameplay. But wait! The Little Mermaid on the DS is actually pretty good, some insist, lowering their voices and shifting their eyes to make sure no one is listening. But think -- the very fact that we have to qualify that there are a few "girl-friendly" titles out there that are decent indicates that the vast pantheon of pink-and-pretties are not. Most aren't fit to be polluting landfills, much less sitting inside a gaming console.
And so these girls learn to be disappointed by games. They learn that games are fun for a few minutes and then they're to be tossed aside in favor of something else. Is it any wonder that later, most don't want to try anything deeper than Bejeweled? Perhaps we are birthing casual gamers right here at home.
Want to introduce a girl to gaming? Give her something you know is entertaining that may also factor in to her other tastes. For younger girls, why not let her take a pass at something like Yoshi's Island? Between the babies and Yoshi himself (with whom I've had a deep fascination since being a wee girl myself), all the cuteness requirements are easily filled. Or hey, let's even mention the other guys, with the Katamari games, Loco Roco, or even -- gasp -- Guitar Hero. There are so many games that serve as both a great introduction to the fun of gaming and that aren't shoddy or insulting. Then she can show you exactly what the girls can do, and it doesn't have to be about anything but having fun.
The selection itself is one of the (many) problems with a display like this. Is it any challenge to point to a Bratz game and say, hey, young girls, this is for you? It's certainly not for anyone else. Any girl could physically walk around GameStop and say, hey, Little Mermaid. I like the Little Mermaid. So could her parents. They don't need an arrow pointing it out. If we must endure something like this, then shouldn't it feature the less obvious games? Great, Cooking Mama is there. Let's add some others, like the aforementioned Yoshi's Island and what the hell, Gunpey. For that matter, where's Kirby? Regardless of age and gender, everyone loves the puff. This display needs more puff. And parents, when shopping for games for their young children, may need to be led to the games they don't know about, that they don't know are appropriate for their younger children. We're pretty sure The Little Mermaid is appropriate for young girls (at least, when Disney is done with it). But parents may not know about a world of other, equally appropriate titles, most of which demonstrate better craftsmanship and playability. Market those, because playability doesn't even belong in the same sentence with a lot of games that are supposedly made for girls.
And while we're at it, why not add Games 4 Boys? Games 4 Men? Games 4 Old Folks? Where are those displays? Let me guess -- they don't need to be told which games to buy? Hate to break it to the guys at GameStop, but girls don't need to be told to buy these games, either.