>Why the phrase "games for girls" makes me cringe
December 15, 2010 14 Comments
>I’m going to take a break from gaming-related porn here. The thing about delving the depths of the internet is that you always discover that there’s an entirely new level of awful that you didn’t know about until you went looking. Instead, I’m going look at girls’ versions of board games today as kind of a palette cleanser. Before I start, though, I’ll note that several of these pictures were ganked from an excellent article on The Society Pages that deserves a read.
Anyone who has ever tried to buy a board game for the children in their lives will know that toys and games for children are marketed in a very gendered way. It is not at all uncommon to go to a toy store and see displays like this:
Now of course I’ll admit that there’s a good reason why game companies do this – these things sell. Look at the Disney Princess line; it’s practically a license to print money. But just as with any group of people, not all little girls have the same tastes – so it makes me sad to see game companies marketing to girls as if all girls ever want the same things, especially when that same marketing comes with the added sexist baggage that goes with it.
I mean, check this out:
OMG! Why bother with the boring game when I can just pose with this pretty, pretty purse?
Does Milton Bradley think that girls won’t play games if they don’t come in gender-appropriate containers? Like little girls who would not have played vanilla Twister IN A BOX would suddenly jump all over playing Twister Pink IN A PURSE? How is the purse a value-added feature? Arg. Just… arg.
And there’s plenty of other examples of patronizing packaging as well. Like:
“F*CKYOU” would also be a bingo, and would be worth a lot more with F, C, K, and Y. Too bad its two words.
And, man, what are you trying to say with this? That the only reading girls do is Twilight, fashion mags, and celebrity gossip? That fashion is such an all-consuming part of a girl’s life that even while playing a board game her thoughts are, naturally, about what she’s wearing? That she can’t relate to any concept that isn’t directly related to fashion?
Well, that would at least explain this monstrosity:
Monopoly for girls! Colon capital D! I have to have one!
But then, everyone knows that girls can’t expect to have the same careers as boys:
Quick! Someone give me some insulin! I’m going into pink overload!
I realize that this is an older game – from about 1990 – and I don’t honestly know if there’s a newer edition. I devoutly hope not. But I thought it deserved a mention since I found it while browsing through Board Game Geek. Wei Hwa Huang wrote an excellent review of the game called “Most Condescending Game Ever“, and then some BGG users proceeded to then argue that this actually wasn’t sexist at all.
Other things that are, apparently, not sexist include:
New preschool curricula include Disney Princess Recognition. True story.
Last we have something that a friend alerted me to:
So. Much. Hatred.
The bottom right hand of the package says SOLID WOOD BLOCKS (are pretty in pink). Because I guess it’s important that all board games for girls are pretty. What makes this extra terrible is that it’s essentially Truth or Dare, but without the Dares and with only really insipid Truths. Like “If you had one wish, what would you wish for?” and “who do you have a crush on right now?”.
Now, I’ll admit to creating a Truth or Dare Jenga set with some friends in university, and it was always a blast to play. Why not create a non-gendered Truth or Dare Jenga and let the game stand on its own merits for crying out loud?