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Everything we need to know about gender roles, we can learn from video games. Boys shoot things and beat things up; girls cook food and change clothes a lot. Okay, I’m simplifying things, but a quick glance at the ever-growing line-up of “girl games” can give the impression that female gamers are being pandered to at least a little bit. This doesn’t mean that some of these frilly, pink adventures aren’t genuinely good games—many are. Nor does it negate the very good news that game developers have finally realized girl gamers exist. In fact, when you look carefully, if you compare recent girl-targeted games to traditionally boy-targeted titles, you may wonder if our daughters aren’t actually getting better treatment from the gaming industry.
The Imagine series, from game publisher UbiSoft, for instance offers a vast library of lifestyle and career simulations, housed inside incredibly detailed, in-depth video games. Sure, the Imagine games let girls be fashion designers, wedding planners, and cheerleaders, but they also offer opportunities to be reporters, doctors, and detectives. And speaking of detectives, HER Interactive’s Nancy Drew series offers some of the best PC games on the market today.
Even among the more stereotypically girly subject matter, you’ll often find edifying material. Majesco’s Cooking Mama shows kids the real steps and ingredients that go into preparing complicated dishes. Nintendo’s new fashion game, Style Savvy, is actually about running a business and requires financial sense and planning in order to do well. Will boys find anything so constructive in God of War or Resident Evil? Maybe I’m cherry-picking here, but even if we focus on games that have no redeeming value whatsoever, I’d rather see my daughter painting garish makeup on the face of an avatar than my son dismembering a zombie with a chain saw.
Do video games send the wrong messages to girls? Chime in below!