What The FKCU?!

May 6, 2009 § Leave a comment

I almost had an aneurysm when I flipped to the third page of June’s Nintendo Power and saw an advertisement for this:

[“Your stylist holds the key to popularity.” ?!!??!?!??!?? Unbelievable.]

It’s called Drama Queens, for Nintendo DS. The ad said:

Fashion, Guys, Career…like, how can one girl deal?

Chelsi stole my boyfriend but Hayden is totally crushing on me — must be because of the little black dress I bought after landing a promotion at Fashion Boutique. Step aside, ladies! The competition to be the most popular queen diva is fierce in this ultra-dramatic 3D board game!

Play in four environments from the shopping mall to the fashion runway

Show up to three friends that you’re most popular in two multiplayer modes

Juggle boyfriends, best friends and promotions around Drama Spaces

I can barely contain my outrage, but I will try to express it without resorting to expletives.

First off, this looks like some parody that The Onion would have created. It is unbelievable that anybody could have taken this proposal seriously — did none of the people at Majesco have daughters?? Is this really what they want their children to emulate? Drama Queens is rated T, which means that it is suggested for players aged 13 or over [although ratings are generally ignored by clueless parents]. This leads me to wonder what age group the game is targeting: at what age do girls decide they want to practice juggling “boyfriends, best friends and promotions”?? The characters in this game are clearly in their twenties, although they speak with the lazy drawls of teenagers from southern California.

The advertisement was 50% pink. I appreciate that the video game industry [or Nintendo, specifically] is trying to reach out to girls, and I’ve held my tongue with each dopey game that Ubisoft spews out, but this game takes it a little too far. Their full list of Imagine games is as follows:

Imagine Animal Doctor
Imagine Babyz
Imagine Fashion Designer
Imagine Fashion Party
Imagine Figure Skater
Imagine Master Chef
Imagine Party Babyz

Incidentally, when you search for Ubisoft on Google, the tagline reads: “Imagine is the only range of videogames offering activities dedicated to girls on the Nintendo’s DS.” Wow. There are no illusions whatsoever as to who they want to buy these games.

In the book Pink Think by Lynn Peril, which is easily one of the most interesting non-fiction books I have ever read, Peril devotes a handful of pages to talking about board games for American girls in the fifties and sixties.

Bearing in mind how important it was for little girls to learn their first lessons in womanhood at an early age, it’s not surprising that board games that encouraged prepubescent girls to play at dating were so popular. What better way to learn the ropes when it came to the opposite sex than with a game like Mystery Date—the bestselling girls’ game of the 1960s? (33)

There were still other board games that revolved around dating. There was Miss Popularity, where the player who filled her bulletin board with the most social events won. Barbie Queen of the Prom had similarities to Mystery date in that it involved buying clothes in order to get ready for a date. Shopping, dating, and “school activities” all figured prominently.

These games were tailor-made for girls going through that hideous first flush of adolescence, when everybody looks weird, with braces and glasses and bodies that grow too much in one direction and not enough in another, and everyone begins to wonder, “Am I normal?” Therein lies the games’ appeal: they are the armchair version of dating, a much less frightening version of real life. Of course, by placing all the emphasis on looks and the all-important boyfriend, these games also had the potential to make awkward social misfits feel even more alienated.

Dating was not the only womanly skill board games taught little girls. Games like Cut-Up (a “shopping spree game”) and Park and Shop (the object was to find a parking place, shop the fastest, and get back home first) taught both the American way of consumerism and another time-honored feminine role: that of the shopper. (35-6)

Drama Queens is not a new idea at all, apart from the fact that it injects the word “drama” into the equation [seriously, does anybody think that drama queens should be emulated? What moron named this game?]. Do video games really have to stoop this low to reel in the female gaming market? Do these kinds of games really set a foundation for future gamers?

Apart from all that is clearly wrong with this game, it doesn’t even look fun. It’s a virtual board game, so it takes the tedium of playing a board game by yourself and puts it on a handheld, whereas I would at least expect this to be some kind of Sims game. One could argue that that’s exactly what the Mario Party games do, but I don’t think you can compare the magic and sparkle of Mario to this banality.

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