Thou Shall Wear Pink
This week you could be forgiven for thinking you're just looking at the games industry through rose-tinted specs. However, it's not you; it's just that the industry has gone all pink and fluffy on us. And there I was complaining that the Xbox 360 was for boys just two weeks ago. Pah! What did I have to worry about? Sony has allayed all my fears over being ostracised because of my gender and it's all down to the fact that the PS2 is now coming out in pink.
I mean, what more could a girl gamer want frankly? Proving all you have to do is make it in pink, Sony has once again astounded all with its astute marketing know how.
Alternatively, we could all be completely bowled over by the cynicism and weak thinking behind it all. I know that Nintendo has done the very same thing before and has also just announced that the DS Lite will be issued in pink, but it's a different kettle of fish when it comes to old Ninty.
I think we can all agree that Nintendo is definitely the most female friendly brands of the three console manufacturers. And that's not because they make more pink stuff, it's because there's more to games on Nintendo machines than just shooting stuff and setting fire to hookers.
Does Sony really think that just being pink"gah! I despair, I really and truly do. The only thing this "shrewd" move might do is make lots of girls cry when they're boyfriends present them with a pink PS2 as a gift for their birthday/Christmas/anniversary. Some would rather get power tools; at least they'd get some use out of it.
Now, I mean, I don't want beat up on the games industry and give it a serious wedgie"hmmm"no, really I don't. And I'm the first one to say that there is no such thing as games for girls. However, the games industry is still missing the point when it comes to targeting this potentially lucrative demographic.
I understand the dilemma the marketers face – I mean, how to put together a sales and marketing campaign for Gears of War aimed at women!? That, my friends is a tricky one. But the same cannot be said for Heavenly Sword.
Think about it and yes, you do have to get past the fact that she's totally hot and kicks-ass in a kinky kind of male fantasy way. Well, maybe you don't actually because, believe it or not, kick-ass women appeal to women too. Do you really think the success of Wonder Woman, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Margaret Thatcher is purely down to men?
Well, I beg to differ, my dear play chums. It is a fact that women like to be sexy and kick-ass and that's not just since Germaine Greer wrote The Female Eunuch and everyone burnt their bras. You see, the thing about us women that keeps you guys guessing is the fact that we like to mix it up a little. We can go from hard hat to cocktail dress in a single day. And in the same way we can imagine ourselves abseiling down buildings, snapping the necks of gangster scum with our lithe thighs and slipping into something more comfortable at the end of the day.
So if we put one and one together that means that Heavenly Sword will appeal to women and be played by women. I mean who wouldn't want to be a sword-wielding vixen, with hair like Rapunzel swooshing about while you sever limbs?
But Heavenly Sword will only reach women if marketed in the right way. And there"is the rub. We won't see it advertised in places where women will see Nariko, the star of Heavenly Sword.
The reality of it is that the marketing and PR guys won't event think, "Hey, you know what? I think women might like this game, let's go after them with a really interesting campaign." They'll just think, she's hot, let's auction her panties in a competition for 14 year old boys and men who should grow up now.
Equal opportunities has yet to come to gaming and that won't change until we employ more women – that's before we even conquer the problem of under-representation of gay, black, third age and disabled people. Looking at figureheads, the number of female stars in games that hold their own and aren't total bimbos, can be counted on one hand.
I'm guessing if games reflected the lives of women a little more, by just you know, having women in them, then maybe we could hook them in. Some may even get into the big guns and fast cars vibe and others might just pick and choose the ones they like, but at least then we'd have an industry that is inclusive.
The basic message is that to reach that elusive female market you have to stop ignoring them and just painting stuff pink in the hope that they're that frigging dumb.
Most played: Ikaruga
Most wanted: Age of Conan