To: The Game Industry
From: Gen Katz, Editor
Topic: Where Have All The Girl Games Gone?
Date: November 2001

This Christmas there are essentially no games being made for girls. The industry has decided that it is too hard to figure out what girls want to play and so they have decided, "the hell with them - let them play boy games."

In evaluating this past Holiday's batch of games, it helps to know a bit about how games have changed in the last few years. First off, I have a bias in that we review, as our name implies, Games 4 Girls. This web site got started in 1996 when game developers considered computer and video games to be a girl-free zone and it was thought that if girls played a game or touched a console it was the kiss of death.

Between 1997 and 1999 there was an explosion of girl-oriented games when developers realized that if they included girls they might double their market. And so, the question asked was, "What do girls want?" Well, it seemed that girls liked cooperative endeavors, communicating, animals, good stories, no time limits, detailed and attractive graphics, dressing up, clothes, jewelry, productive and creative activities, exploration, music and voices. They didn't like violence, dying in games and having to start over, and they found that shooting at things quickly got boring. Games for girls don't necessarily mean only for girls although many of them are, or that girls don't play other games - they do. During this period we got American Girl adventures; Barbie did scuba diving, raced horses, designed and modeled clothes and used her own digital camera to shoot photos and download them into her computer. Rockette meanwhile, agonized over which group to join in high school. Many of the products were more like activities than games. There was no score keeping, competition or time limits.

Well, the girl market never really developed, and now instead of making games for girls the new approach is to get girls to play boy games - enter the hand-helds. 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 and the design of consoles games are determined by the controller configurations - meaning, kicking, crouching, shooting, jumping - actions best suited for battle. The female characters that have moved into these arcade style games are well known to girls; Mary Kate and Ashley, Diva Starz, Angelica of Rugrats fame, Sabrina, Buffy the vampire killer and even the venerable Nancy Drew. The year 2001 brought fewer story-type games that girls were supposed to love.

A few unusual "games" are being produced by small companies like Iseesoft, producers of World Dance and companies outside of the U.S. such as Tivola. Their Alphabet is so artistic it is sold in museum stores. And, like the movies - sequels abound, which also included the much-anticipated Zoombinis titles and Myst 3. Games for the consoles are mostly geared to men and boys with shooters, sports and racing. All in all - it was a lean year.