A few weeks ago, the Pharyngula blog had a post about the powerlessness of pink. A toy catalog advertised microscopes and telescopes for kids and they included “special” pink ones “for” girls. The best part, of course, is that the pink ‘scopes were not as powerful as the regular microscopes (600x magnification vs. 900 or 1200x and 90x vs. 250 or 525x).
This is of course, lame for so many reasons and it carries various absurd implications, etc., but it isn’t all that unfamiliar for anyone who has reviewed the types of video games that are designed specifically for girls. For the most part, video games for girls are insipid. Check out the screen grab from the Tinkerbell DS game: outfits and material possessions. Really? Just about every/any game that has ever been designed for the pink ghetto has a clothing/ outfit fetish.
I can say a lot on this topic, but for now I just want to focus on one thing. Why stop at “outfits”? Why not go the next level?
What annoys me most about the girl-game outfit fetish isn’t necessarily that 1) all little girls don’t really care about outfits (and the second a video game box goes pink, I promise you outfits are involved, if not for your avatar than for a horse or puppy/kitty) or that 2) the idea of having content revolve around outfits paralyzes any hope of designing a cognitively captivating game. Rather, what bothers me is that this interest some girls have in fashion or styling can link into some legitimately challenging and fascinating problem spaces, and this never seems to be taken advantage of. Fashion design, as Tim Gunn has shown us, is tricky business. It requires serious spacial intelligence, design thinking, and problem solving. Looking at two-dimensional patterns and fabrics and cutting and stitching them to fit onto a 3D person is an engineering feat if ever there was one. So why stop at just “outfits”?
In the more male-dominated game universes of racing games or god-game strategy games, successful titles frequently have sequels, and those sequels Continue reading “Dads who know better and the powerlessness of pink”