How Online Games for Girls Bring Power to the Player
Online games for girls may seem to fall prey to some pretty polarized marketing- but there is a very good reason for this.
At first glance, the video game industry seems to be a boys club. Tech industries have long been known as a male-dominated field, from conception to complete toon. With most gaming campaigns directed firmly towards masculine storylines and male-centric characters. Leaving many women out of the equation. But the reality is that women game- a lot, and they also develop the games we love playing. So why does it look like a “no girls allowed” industry?
Frankly, it’s all down to marketing to the consumer. Many online gaming platforms aim to change this pattern of behavior early, creating sites like Prinxy, who are dedicated to providing “online games for girls” with female-focused characters, story arcs, and themes. Letting girls know at an early age that this is their community too.
Girls in Online Games
Nearly half of all gamers in the U.S. identify as female, so it’s a bit frustrating to see that few if any, mainstream games have a female lead that isn’t suffering from undertones of near-pornographic beauty standards. In 1996, game developers at Core Design underwent some pretty heated critique upon releasing the first Tomb Raider series- a video game championed by an English archeologist searching the wilds for ancient treasure.
While the game was heralded as a masterpiece, and quite possibly one of the best action-adventure puzzle games ever made, it also got from frustrated feedback from the female community. The game’s main character, Laura Croft, was built closely resembling a comic book character, with an overly large bust and underly short shorts. The games creators even factored in patches that allowed Laura to perform some pretty unnecessary, and incredibly lithe actions, like overtly sexual handstands. Leaving some critics to decry the game for objectifying women. Because it still remains today as one of the only female-led video game series titles, it was arguably hard to level the characters’ looks with the fact that girls finally got a frontline character.
Representation in Titles
Since the original tomb raider series, few games have focused on agreeable female role model leads- until online games designed specifically for girls found their footing. With titles that focus on decidedly girly activities, like makeup, fashion, design, cooking, and even pet care, online games for girls create an entire space that is designed to let anyone just have fun- without overt violence or war-focused themes.
While the games and websites that sponsor them market directly to girls, many of the games are easily enjoyed by any gender of the younger generation- but all of them have a staunch focus on strong female leads. Which is something marketers should be paying close attention to. Many of these types of online games are designed to be used on smartphones and tablets, over the traditional console setups. In the U.K., 60% of girls aged 10-15 play games strictly on mobile devices, which clearly dominates the 55% of boys in the same age category.
Understanding this niche preference, game makers and developers have put renewed focus on creating titles that girls want to play- without such a strong focus on body type. The Nancy Drew series is an online gaming series that draws in older teens, while free online gaming platforms like Prinxy focus more on younger generations, hosting themes like princess dress up and kitty cat cooking games. Which is showing girls at a young age that this is their arena too, and you don’t have to be into Madden or Call of Duty to be a part of it.
Online Games for Girls: Early Footing
Creating these titles aimed at a younger age demographic offers girls a safe space to enjoy their gaming habits, without the fear of trolling or abuse that has long gone hand in hand with other online co-op games. Leaving overly sexualized characters and male-centric pursuits at the door. While there are many different campaigns and online communities directed at bolstering the feminine perspective in gaming, these online games for girls aim to support an entirely different demographic. “We’re not trying to create a space where girls are in direct competition with boys for mainstream gaming space.” Say the curators of Prinxy. “Instead, we want to create a space where they don’t have to compete. Where they can play the types of games they enjoy, and not feel like they need to justify that.”
Prinxy isn’t the only online company that’s looking to market their products directly to the female demographic, as big-name female-focused brands like Sephora and Coco Chanel are also doing their part to break into the feminine online gaming sphere. With headway continually being made, girl gamers are more and more often finding outlets that are focused directly on them- which by any measure is a good thing. Because as community attitudes are changing, so is content. Which means that more women are capable of taking the controller.