I have to post about this (brilliantly written piece by Brian), don't I ;)
Let's start with something - ignoring the giant spelling mistake on the front cover of this box art - : depending on your source, your average young game-playing person is more or less equally likely to be male or female.
Sure, there are skews and tendencies, of course there are: slight male skews towards the Xbox, and possibly even a slightly female skew towards the Wii. There's a male skew towards shooters, and a female skew towards adventure and brainiac games like puzzles. Male.. war, female.. music. Males tend to play a little longer, females a little less long. Some females will play BarbieGirlz, most males probably wouldn't - not while they'd get teased mercilessly for it, anyway. We hear these figures all the time.
And that's now. Ten years ago it was different, ten years hence, female playtime will equal male playtime, because there will be as many titles for oestrogen-heavy people as testosterone-heavy people, and everything in between (which is, in fact, most of us).
Ubisoft have a series of games about to come out for girls. Entitled "Imagine", there's a spark of hope .. but it turns out that the series is going to primarily consist of shopping, fashion, animals and babies. Oh yes. But the worst bit about this is, not really the fact that there are going to be shopping games - WoW is at least 40% shopping, frankly - or fashion games (ditto), but that Ubisoft seem to think that this is only what girls like:
Those games were really designed for young girls who are just looking for fun games and ways to explore their favorite hobbies... From what we've seen, [the girls] didn't mention anything about being a police officer.
Research is a funny thing. If you say to someone, what's your favourite food, they'll list three things they love. If you then say, you didn't list chocolate cake, don't you like chocolate cake? They'll say, oh SURE! I love chocolate cake! I just didn't realise you were asking about chocolate cake.
If young girls only like shopping, fashion, cooking and babies, then they wouldn't like Ratchet and Clank. Or Mario Kart. Or Dance Dance Revolution. Or Wii Sports. Or Pokemon.
Of course, these shopping, fashion and baby games will probably sell like hotcakes, partially (wholly?) because of the marketing: the packaging, the adverts and the message will scream, GIRLS! THESE ARE JUST FOR YOU!, and a chunk of 7 year olds will respond. Boys are no exception: videogames did the same to them for many, many years, except it was a bit more gory, and featured far more guns and boobs.
I would love to know what else Ubisoft is doing for girls, other than shopping, fashion and pets. Anything? It's a bit ironic that the series is called Imagine, and yet Ubisoft is demonstrating a distinct lack of the stuff here. As Brian brilliantly said, "what's next, Imagine: The Glass Ceiling?"
The world is imbalanced, side-loaded, lurching: we need more female policemen, actually - aren't Ubisoft watching Life on Mars? - and female referees, and female politicians, and female military people, and female marketing strategists, and female farmers ... and, of course, as evidenced by this latest offering, more female video game personnel.