The Issue with Creating Gendered Games
I enjoyed the Polygon article, “No Girls Allowed,” but I had some issues with it. Particularly, it suggests that we need to make more games for women. To me, the biggest issue in games is not that there aren’t enough games aimed at women, it’s that we see the games that we already have as being uniquely created for a male audience. In truth, anybody can play and enjoy a game like Civilization or Bioshock—there’s very little content in these games that screams “only men will like this.”
Instead, we seem to think that women require games that are aimed, unabashedly, directly, at them, because these other games simply won’t cut it. The Purple Moon games, for instance, focus directly on the trials and tribulations of being a preteen girl. The stereotypical “girliness” in these games isn’t really what bothers me here—rather, it’s that the existence of these games, and the absence of similar games for little boys, suggests that every game that isn’t “girly” can only be enjoyed by a male audience.
We can look at it like this: the existence of stereotypically “girly” video games, and the absence of stereotypically “male” video games, ends up gendering games in the same way as blue and pink toy aisles. That is, because the “pink” video games are for girls, this means that the rest of video games are for boys.
The Polygon article suggests that we should make video games like books; media with lots of different types and genres aimed at many specific demographics. I think that this will only further the divide that I’ve been discussing. Instead, I think that we should, perhaps, start making more games written so totally and ridiculously for young men that it becomes clear that the rest of games are actually for everyone.