POV - Point of View


Dressing-up is Fun To Do

I've been reviewing games of girls for about 10 years, and while styles have changed, dressing the bod still ranks as one of the more satisfying, fun activities that come up in games. From Dover Book's paper dolls to Barbie, American Girl, and let's not forget Tony Hawk, dressing up is fun to do. You can dress up Buttercup by going to the "Printables" in the Princess Bride blog:
http://www.princessbridegame.com/blog/wp-trackback.php?p=141 (Click on the word here in the last line of the first paragraph in the blog.)

Gen Katz - 07/2008

200807


Funny thing ...

Funny thing - is that it's not easy being funny.

People remember the book The Princess Bride as being "funny". Will the game live up to the humor that the readers of the book enjoyed? See http://www.princessbridegame.com/blog/wp-trackback.php?p=140

Gen Katz - 06/2008

200806


The Container And The Thing Contained

How food is served effects the experience - the same applies when we take a story from book to movie to interactive game. See
http://www.princessbridegame.com/blog/wp-trackback.php?p=142

Gen Katz - 05/2008

200805


GTA 4

  • Disclaimer - I only played the original GTA.
  • There is no doubt that GTA 4 is an excellent and engaging game.
  • The Roman games were also excellent entertainment.
  • Sales are expected to be 9 million.
  • What will those Mature people come away with after 60 hours of playing as Niko?
  • 60 hours will almost get you 4 credits in college.
  • GTA 4 is now multiplayer - you can join with your gang and play on-line.
  • Will there be an upsurge in Niko as the name for baby boys?
  • Rockstar Games is only giving the public what they want.
  • Would you date a guy who just finished 60 hours of GTA 4?
  • Yes, yes, I know it's just a game but then the Bible is just a book.

Gen Katz - 05/2008

200805


Looking for Romance

Looking for romance? We find it in books, movies - why not video games? There are a few that would qualify as date games - we need more. See
http://www.princessbridegame.com/blog/?p=124

Gen Katz - 04/2008

200804


The Princess Bride makes the NYTimes Op Ed page Sunday (3/24/08)

Books and movies that stir us, become part of our residual memory and grow to be part of the larger cultural legend, and allow us with just a phrase, to recapture the moment and share it. See
http://www.princessbridegame.com/blog/?p=100

Gen Katz - 03/2008

200803


Game Developers Conference 08

The Game Developers Conference 2008 is reviewed on our To The Industry page:  
Feb 2008 - The GDC Has Matured

200802


Game Developers Conference 07

The GameDevelopers Conference 07, a massive weeklong event took place in San Francisco during the week of March 5-9, 2007. Featuring around 300 distinct sessions, a vendor exhibit (GDC Expo) and numerous other events, it gave us a chance to survey current and future trends in the computer game industry. The Conference website is here at
http://www.gdconf.com.

Many of the sessions we attended actively discussed the notion that there was much more to gaming than killing and blowing things up. 'Casual' games - games that you could pick up, play for a while and then put down have become important, and the audience for these is heavily skewed towards women. Mobile games (games that you can play on your cellphone or on one of the small handheld devices) are seen as the next great (money making) thing, and again, women form a far larger segment of the market than for the console shooters. Over and over again it was noted that "hard core" gamers were just not a very large part of the market.

Social interaction has also become important - cellphones of course can communicate with others; IM (Instant Messaging) being very popular. Newer consoles (and regular computers) come with networking capabilities, and networking means playing with friends, playing 'against' others and keeping contact through gameplay.

Trip Hawkins, in his keynote talk "Making Mobile Phones the Ultimate Game Platform", argued strongly that gameplayers don't want to play by themselves, and pointed to the huge volume (100 billion) of text messages sent in the US as an indicator of the desire of people to overcome modern social isolation.

The Serious Games Summit covered many aspects of games that have as their goal some real world action, activity or learning. Flight simulators and conflict resolution games are a few of the types. There are also Alternate Reality games (ARG), where significant aspects of the 'game' are in the 'real' world, at physical places, in books, on websites, instant messages and e-mail messages, and even in phone calls. Some of these games involve thousands of players - one such is starting soon World Without Oil. Another ARG that finished recently was I Love Bees, described in great detail by Jane McGonigal. Social interaction, content sharing, group formation come up again and again. There is a virtual world aimed at pre-teen and teen aged girls and boys: WhyVille.

Santiago Siri in his session "A Practical View on Interactive Story Telling: Drama Games" outlined steps to get away from the "kill, eat and run" model and into character, expression and emotion.

Game Accessability was addressed in several sessions. This area is starting to get more attention as the populatin ages, and former game players and users find that it is becoming increasingly difficult to continue to do things that used to be easy (and with the loss of ease there is also a loss of fun!). In the session "Serious Accessibility for Serious Games", Michelle Hinn, Kevin Bierre, Richard Van Tol and Dimitris Grammenos all talked about how accessibility affected everyone in ways we don't normally think about - having vision problems vs. working where there is very bright light shining on the screen, having hearing problems vs. working in very noisy environments or on computers which did not have loudspeakers, etc.

Dimitris Grammenos, after talking about 'Universally Accessible Games", demonstrated a 'Universally Inaccessible Game', where each level violates a different accessibility paradigm. Although the presentation was hilarious, it also gives a sobering look at the whole design problem. This inaccessible game, 'Game Over!', is discussed at the Unversally Accessible Games website, and will be available for download soon.

Storytelling was given a lot of attention - there are still many designers trying to put good story elements in their work; I think that we can still look forward to games where the emphasis is on stories and character.

What about old games? You may have played a game you liked years ago, on an arcade console, an Atari game machine or old PC, and you'ld like to play it again? One trend that is clear is that some of these are migrating down to handheld machines and on to cell phones. Although the computing and display capabilities of phones seems puny, in fact many surpass the game machines of yore, and may be quite natural platforms today. We will be describing the mechanics and procedures of getting games onto your cell phones, and accessing the free and downloadable 'casual games' in a later article.

In summary, the Game Developers Conference 2007 had much interest in character development, story telling, social interaction and playability, the attributes that concern many girl and women game players.

Lou Katz - 03/2007


Golden Oldies

I've been reviewing games for seven years now. Have seen the growth of consoles and perhaps the end of the PC for games. The games that are selected for this site can be almost anything except violent shooters and war games. Many of them are for kids. All have an eye for appealing to girls. I prefer adventure games, action games with female protagonists, unusual games like the current Hamtaro, games where you can make something or play at life.

As I see new games, there are old ones that I will never forget. They were the high water mark for their genre and to date they have not been surpassed. Companies have disappeared along with them. This industry, in its rush for the ever new release has erased its history. There are no archives for these games except in the back closet of some kid. I have a bunch of them and I am saving them for my grand children including the machine to play them on.

Take a look at the Our Favorites page. Was there ever a better kids game than Pajama Sam -- No Need to Hide When it's Dark Outside? Cosmopolitan Makeover, provided a way to makeup your face, not Barbie's; Cyber Grannies - 26 great funny roll models. Alphabet -- Play with ABCs and Midnight Play are art pieces. And whatever became of Smarty? And I've named only a few. Some you can still get if you can remember their names, some have just vanished. If the industry doesn't make an archive or create a museum, maybe I will. I'll call it, Recovered Treasures -- The Games We Never Forgot.

200412


Females Sliding into Violence

You think only boys like violence? In fact, there is a slow progression in girl's games from shooting things to stabbing vampires to full tilt killing monsters. Producing games with girl titles on hand-helds and game machines sparked this movement. Unlike games on PCs and Macs, which support elaborate graphics and complex story lines, the hand-helds are confined to quick action scrolls or shooters. The design of consoles games are determined by the controller configuration, meaning kicking, crouching, shooting, jumping - actions best suited for battle. When you hold a game controller in your hand that has buttons with the four cardinal directions, R1, R2, L1, L2, L3 Stick, L4 Stick, select, start, plus buttons with a triangle, square, circle and X, you know that you are not going to be presented with an intricate story with complex characters. Yet games with an intricate story with complex characters are the very kinds of games that girls like. Girls find shooting and scoring boring.

Why then the sudden interest in games for girls on these machines? I think that it is a marketing decision made to recycle the older machines, so you can feel less guilty about buying the latest model. Let girls play on the hand-me down older machines while their brothers buy the new ones! So girls need games for these machines. On the box for THW's Rugrats - Totally Angelica, "girl" is inserted between "Game" and "Boy". True, it's in lower case letters, but is presages the future.

How do you make killing palatable? The trick is to make the villain so bad that it's OK to kill it. I remember at one of the Game Developers Conference when a guy, in exasperation, asked one of the women, if there were any circumstances that would make you want to kill somebody? (animals had been previously ruled out) "Yes", came the reply, "I would kill a rapist".

Well, I guess the vampires fall into that category. In Buffy the Vampire Slayer for Game Boy, the game is basically stalk, kick and impale. Gone are the complex social interaction and moral concerns of the TV show. Next up, Vampire Hunter.

Two new games, American McGee Alice and Typing of the Dead are clever and violent. American McGee Alice calls to mind the children's book (Alice in Wonderland) with amusing verses combined with outrageous characters, insanity and imminent disaster. American McGee has transformed it to a first-person shooter in an even more threatening Wonderland. And now there is Typing of the Dead which could have been entitled, Type or Die. It cleverly combines typing tutorials with a horror theme.

Are females changing or is marketing?

200102


Hey - Don't Apologize for Pink

I see lots of girl games, and I am trying to understand both the consistency with which girls are attracted to girl stuff and the degree to which we treat this pejoratively. It has been popular for a while now to rag against Pink things. Games done in pink, the pink aisle - yes Barbie, flowers, fairies, dress-ups, make up, sexy fabric, jewelry - those sort of things.

In the industry segment that caters to producing computer games for the girl market there are the foolproof eight activities that are known to appeal to girl tastes - dress-up, dating, makeup, shopping, writing in diaries, horoscopes, fortune telling, astrology. You must have at least five to produce a successful girl game. The producers may be one dimensional - but they are not exactly stupid. They know about the psychological studies done as far back as 1980 that show that the all time favorite toy for little girls is a pink jewelry box. The most popular costume in dress-up activity is the princess or bride. They have observed little girls at play.

They also know that one of the most important drive is for little girls to want to become big girls, and big girls to become grown-ups. And what do women do? They drive cars, have money, pretty clothes and a pad of their own, have boyfriends, possibly husbands and maybe even babies. Sometimes they drink and smoke. From down there looking up - these are the privileges of grownups. Divorce, all night studying at graduate school, education debt, unwanted pregnancy, sickness, stress, job dissatisfaction or even satisfaction are not in the picture.

The fantasies are fine, and girls shouldn’t be made to feel guilty about any more things than they already do. If you think about the transition of girls into teen women, some of the activities of girl games begin to be understandable. And while there is more to life than shopping, clothes and make-up, they are covert sexual activities safely satisfying and preparing girls for the eventual grown-up mating game. Also there is the ongoing concern about who I am and who I will be, and so horoscopes, fortune telling, and astrology kick in. Are there better ways? Sure, self analysis, trusting your emotions, understanding your strength and weaknesses, articulating your wants and desires, gaining experience, finding a mentor who listens to you. These things are hard to find in a $19.99 game.

If all this seems natural - why do we rail so against this pinkness? Mothers don’t object half as much about the dark violent side of boy games. Why, when picking games for girls do parents insist on them being “educational” while maintaining that boys are gaining computer competence by playing Doom or Conquest in Space?

I can’t speak for boy games, but I do wish for better girl games. I think that producers short change girls. While girls like the relief that fantasy provides, they are very much connected to reality. Yes, they want to know who they are and will be. So how about some dynamite role playing real personas to try out. Not just the goodies take care of others ones, but also the baddies, the powerful, the edgy ones. Within the safety of a game they should be able to experience the consequences of their actions - both good and bad.

Purple Moon tried to provide girls with choices in experiences that were relevant to them but their games were boring. Making good girls games is hard and the industry hasn’t dedicating their top resources to the endeavor.

Sports are in now, along with the up front competition - Hallelujah! These activities are great for developing teamwork, the joy of winning, how to handle losing. The sports that are readily available like soccer and basketball are more enjoyable in the real world so I would leave the playing of the computer versions for the dark winter nights. There are other appealing sports activities - championship figure skating, tricky in-line skating and ski boarding, are some that are available now.

What else for girls? Just as experience in sports helps develop a sureness and pleasure in her strong competent body - thinking skills open up the pleasure of watching her mind work - the satisfaction of problem solving, touching base with the thoughts of others, how to find her opinions and articulate them - the satisfaction of thought. Pink is a beginning - it can always grow into red. In the mean time - don’t apologize for pink. Remember that the color pink was once assigned to boys because it was considered too potent a color for girls!

200010


Why this site has reviews of old games

Unlike some of the current magazines that only review the two latest games for girls - we believe that good games - like good books, should hang around for a while, and so we keep our reviews of older games on line. The industry has caught up with us with by reissuing some of their past products. Most of the time they are as good as the newer releases in the same series, and sometimes that initial burst of creativity made the original title even better. Some are so good that they never go away - The Zoombini’s for example. So, here you can check out some of the remaindered good bargains.

200009


Hey Girls - It's Only Math.

It's never too early to get comfortable with numbers. Don't buy them saying that girls don't like math or can't do it. Math is not a big deal. Cool is not being dumb. Cool is knowing things. Cool is having the smarts. Dumb can't figure out how much she is paying in interest, can't divide the ingredients in a recipe and thinks her chances of winning the lottery are good.

You know how it works - there are certain things that you have to do before you can join the club. Math is like that. Want to become an architect and create your own idea of a building - be a pilot and fly the big ones or as a scientist, explore the oceans and the stars? Don't let math stand in the way of you future options. Learn it. Get some help. And move on.

I will be reviewing some arithmetic and math programs. Maybe you want to do it by yourself. Maybe with a parent. There are some grownup women who would benefit from some of these programs - women who are tired of "being afraid of math". You don't want to live your life afraid of percentages - do you?

Math Related Games
The Clue Finders Math - Ages 9-12. - Nice kids. OK, once you get the hang of it. Some of the arcade games reward finger reflex more than math. Lots of charting and graphing.
Star Wars Pit Droids - A painless and fun way to develop understanding of set theory and the logical operations needed for programming.
Carmen Sandiego Math Detective - Ages 8-14. Word problems, fractions, decimals and more wrapped in a mystery adventure.
Madeline 1st and 2nd Grade Math - Ages 5-8. Simple arithmetic and pre math skill development in a French museum setting.

20010228


How To Tell A "Back Of The Box" Review.

How can you tell about a game if you can't play it, haven't heard about it and just read the review - like here? It's obvious - the most important thing about a review is that the reviewer has to have played the game. Sometimes I've seen reviews that read just like the copy on the back of the game box. Watch it when they only tell you the things that the game or activity does: 39 different puzzles, 40 textures, many interesting characters, and don't tell you how much fun it was playing the game.

You want to know something about the environment in which the game takes place - was it intriguing, mysterious, exciting, quiet? For example, the beck in Fairy Tale was a beautiful tranquil green forest, the underwater scenes in Barbie Ocean Discovery were fantastic and beautiful, the underwater caverns in Pajama Sam, No Need to Hide When It's Dark Outside, were mysterious, dark and yet full of brilliant colors.

Were the characters the kind you want to be with or couldn't you stand them after ten minutes? Did their voices grate on your nerves? My favorite characters to play a game with are Pajama Sam and Madeline.

What was interesting or different about the game: was there plenty to do; was everything used up with the first play or were the good things to find when you go back again? Barbie Fashion Designer had lots to do, and I haven't yet found all the socks in Pajama Sam.

Did the music go with the game or did it get so annoying that you turned the sound down? I am sure you all have ones that fit this category. Notice that these observations are mostly about things that interest girls. I don't make comments on how rad or fast the game is or how many different weapons you have to wipe out your opponents with. These games are for girls.
Gen Katz

200007


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