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Saturday, July 26, 2008

Gaming for Girls

So here I am, procrastinating writing my paper until the very last minute, sort of half-assedly playing cute little games online and reading about the glorious 100-year history of the FBI (love it). I just wanted to share with you all the amazing Flash-based delights offered up for your pleasure at Miniclip. Yes, Miniclip, home of the blessed Sushi Go-Round and Samurai Sam games, an ironically racist pair of games I played tonight out of curiosity. Sushi Go-Round is not bad, obviously made straight from the original Japanese version (remind Jeanne and me to tell the world about Princess Maker 2 someday), it sure makes me hungry. Samurai Sam is a more intense version of those awesome, old side-scrolling Mario Bros. games. All in all, entertaining.

Still, curiosity always gets the better of me, so I decided to investigate the rest of the site. Hmm. They happen to have an entire category of games titled, "GIRLS." Fingers crossed and hoping it wasn't going to be a completely embarrassing deluge of inappropriate up-skirt games, I clicked on said link.

Lo and behold, it was a whole matrix of games somehow geared towards girls! It's a pretty exciting thought, until you look closer and the list includes games about our perennial, girlish favorites--gardening! Show-jumping horsies! Love! Small animals! Taking care of babies! Is it just me or are these all enforcing gender rules on girls that we've been fighting for generations now to change? All girls LOVE to fall in love, play with horses, kittens, and raise babies! Check it out and tell me you don't find it just a teensy bit sexist. The alternatives are shoot-'em-up blood and gore ninja games, hooray for boys!

For full disclosure, I did play a few of the games--turns out the otherwise innocuous-seeming "Flatbread Express" is sponsored by Lean Cuisine. Because what do girls love more than babies and horses, but...DIETING!
As for me, I have quite a bit of previous experience in the realm of videogames pigeonholing girls into social stereotypes--growing up with an older brother, I was regularly told, "Karen, you can sit next to me with your baby doll and pretend you're married to one of the baseball players in my game. And that's your baby! Fun, right?" Truthfully, I always enjoyed fighting games more than playing pretend, and more often than not beat my brother hands-down playing as Chun Lee in Streetfighter. Oh, those were the days!

Screencap of Princess Maker 2 from dosgamesonline.com, game by Gainax.

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