Monday, February 24, 2014

Games For Girls

This entire notion that video games are for specific genders only enforces the lame stereotypes that we, as a species, should be discarding by now. Yet I see the question come up so often it's verging on becoming an epidemic. Girls are just as capable of problem solving, hand-eye coordination, and enjoying great art as much as boys, so why delegate games that are "for girls" at all?

The flaw many game developers have is their who misconception that a girl needs to be driven to the gaming market. Now, in the 80s and 90s parents were not buying video games for their girls, but were buying them for their boys, that does not mean girls do not enjoy the same games, just as much, that's the parents' faults. However, in recent years we have seen a huge increase in female gamers, of all ages, into the video game market. So why are they still doing the "for girls" nonsense? Parents.

Again, the parents are to blame for this total nonsense. They will buy only specific "girly" games for their girls, and everything else for their boys, thinking that's what their children like without even asking them. My very first favorite game was Final Fantasy, the original, the very first one made. I loved that game from day one, it was challenging and had a decent story. For the time, the graphics were pleasing. But Final Fantasy was never considered a "girls game."

So if you find this post while trying to find tips on what to buy for your kids, I offer some real advice, and suggest you ditch the 18th century ideas when walking into the future with us.

1. Find out what the child likes. Games are classified as genres, which will loosely describe the type of challenges the player will be facing. These genres come from real life interests, such as puzzles, card games, or strategy. That is your starting point, your first list of games.

2. Show the child videos and images from the game. What they like in imagery may not be what society has tried to tell everyone else what they like. Let them decide. Some girls may prefer the fancy dragons, well drawn and sculpted models of fantastic beasts. Others may prefer the cute animals of Pokemon, well, most of them are adorable. See what sparks their imagination, what captures their attention, not what you think should capture their attention.

3. If possible, let them play the demos. Demo versions are becoming exceedingly popular, devs have found that people who are unsure whether to buy a game are often persuaded by the demo, so you will find plenty of them in the download markets for most game systems. Nintendo's eShop has almost as many demos as they have games now.

4. Do not make suggestions of any sort. You do have the power to say "no" to titles you may find inappropriate, like GTA should not be played by anyone under the age of 18. Just don't say "hey, this looks fun." Kids' opinions should develop on their own, and you injecting your opinion will prevent them from becoming their own person. Let them say "this looks like fun." Make note of what they say, how they react, that is your key to finding them the best game ever for their first experience.

5. If all else fails, read the reviews and discuss them with the child.

The first video game for a child should be a memorable one, one that they can look back on with fond memories of a time when everything was right in the world, when they actually appreciated their parents. Yes, it is a lot of work when done correctly, but then, everything that's worth doing takes a lot of work. Do not rush the process, let them decide on their own pace, let this be the first grown up thing they ever do.

I could go on and on about how parenting today has to change, but that's not the purpose of this article. What I want to encourage parents to do is spend the time to do this right. We have so few such events in a person's life now, a side effect of modernization, video games, especially the first one, offers us opportunities that we have never had before.

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