T.L. Taylor’s chapter ‘Where the Women Are’ really opened my mind up to the traditional thought about women and video game play. From elementary through high school, I had never really heard girls talking about video games or playing video games, whereas I had many experiences talking about and playing video games with my male friends.
To even think that there were games geared toward girls was something that I had not really seen or read before. I was aware of some ‘Barbie’ games, but I had never seen what their gameplay is like. So I decided to check out the games T.L. Taylor names as having been launched with the goal of serving a specifically ‘girl centered’ market segment. Here are some examples of the games Taylor mentions-
Barbie Fashion Designer-
Rockett’s New School-
Let’s Play: Secret Paths in the Forrest
Now faced with the realization that every time I visit YouTube, it is going to start suggesting videos of computer games geared toward adolescent girls, I also discovered that these games seem INCREDIBLY boring. It is hard for me to believe that the companies that produced these games even put in a serious effort at making a game that not only a girl would like, but at the very least something a thinking, intelligent human being that wants some level of challenge and intrigue could find interesting. And in the case of Purple Moon, the games were entirely unsuccessful and the company was absorbed into Mattel Inc.
I think it would be simple for game producers to make a game geared toward women that recognizes and values what women enjoy about gaming, yet the examples above show that producers have clearly avoided that. I think Taylor’s best point is that “It is as if suddenly the entire experiences of women who right now do play…are hidden off in a corner lest they overly complicate our notions about what “real” women and men take pleasure in.” (113)
Why can’t producers make a game like Tomb Raider without an over sexualized female character? Or a game like Call of Duty with female warriors as well (especially considering the U.S. military just opened up combat jobs to women). There are real life women who serve on the front lines, expose themselves to danger, and lose their lives in combat situations. And yet it seems that war FPS games like Call of Duty will never recognize that in one of their games. That is, unless the female soldier gets to wear a bikini (sarcasm).
My high school friends and I still would have played well produced combat games even if they had featured women, and I’m sure more of our female peers would have joined us in playing those games. By not taking this seriously, and producing games that seem to be made for simpletons or entirely reject women’s roles in society (like female police officers, soldiers, or athletes), gaming will continue to be perceived as a ‘guy’s thing’ as my friends and I thought in high school.