Tuesday, January 21, 2014

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When it Comes to Flash Games for Girls, Gameplay is Barely Skin Deep

Girl Games
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Roboticist by day and gamer by night, Something Awful forum-goer Devious Vacuum has started a thread to catalogue some of the most ridiculous online gaming content being tailored to girls. Inspired by a blog post from a tutor who had been watching her female students, some as young as five, poking virtual whiteheads and tweezing Selena Gomez' eyebrows during recreational time at the end of their teaching sessions, Devious has already singled out more than a few eye-rolling titles. There are games about shaving your legs, using facial steamers, cooking, and of course dressing up for your big date/party/first day of school/fruit prom.

What, you never went to Fruit Prom?

 

The strangest part of falling down this "Games4Girls" rabbithole might be watching them veer from instructional to downright crazy-- no one needs to apply 3 different masks every morning, least of all a fresh-faced teenager. Yet sloppy skincare demonstrations are probably the least worrying thing here. There's the game where you observe and imitate your boyfriend's dream girl, who looks completely different from date to date, leaving you to cut and dye your character's hair weekly and dress only to appeal to others' tastes to avoid rejection. Many of the games also feature exaggeratedly sexy poses, skimpy outfits, and seductive music that make them feel a bit like they belong on a much less cute and sparkly part of the internet.

Look, feminine doesn't equal anti-feminist. I'll be the first person to admit that I can enjoy a good game of virtual dress-up (whether it's embedded in a "real game" or not) and likewise I'll be the first to rush to the defence of games like Style Savvy that take the seemingly dumbed-down "Pink Box" girl game formula and do something interesting with it. But these games...

They're just indefensible.

Be sure to check out Devious Vacuum's Girl Games Megathread for more posts and Let's Play videos, and let me know what you think of all these glossy pink flash games in the comments below.

Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Times, and has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan and with pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.

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Arcadia Codesmith

I played some awful thing on Facebook where your success in your chosen career was largely dependent on your wardrobe and social circle (not at ALL like Second Life *smirk*). I poked at it for a few days, shrugged, and went back to playing a superhero game, where I might be a hypersexualized fetish object, but at least I'm a hypersexualized fetish object with agency beyond shopping and socializing.

CronoCloud Creeggan

@Arcadia's comment: where your success in your chosen career was largely dependent on your wardrobe and social circle (not at ALL like Second Life *smirk*).

Ha! You got that right.

@Arcadia's comment: but at least I'm a hypersexualized fetish object with agency beyond shopping and socializing.

There are things to do in SL besides shop and socialize? Heresy! What does the CC do? She shops therefore she is!

That said, SL is a better "fashion play" game than those flash games are...and you can do other things in it. Even shopping obsessed moi has done things in SL other than shop...don't tell anyone, I have a reputation to keep.

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