Friday, May 18, 2007

A Barbie Game

When I opened a parcel from amazon, containing a game, a novel and three DVDs for my father, my first thought regarding the game was "Oh my God, I bought a Barbie game!". Even though I have revised that first thought by now - the game is good enough for a business simulation -, the first impression still remains to a certain degree.

Admittedly, the game in question is "Beauty Factory", so a certain amount of 'feminine' looks is to be expected. Keeping the whole package in pink is a little overdoing it, though, I think. In fact, pink is one of the dominant features of the whole game, the leading colour, if you want to put it that way. And that got me thinking.

Make-up and perfume surely are things women usually know more about - even though today a lot of men seem to use some make-up and a masculine perfume as well. But does 'things women usually know more about' equal 'pink'? I'm quite sure it doesn't. Or is this just a way to ensure a lot of women buy the game, being remembered of the pink packages of the Barbie-dolls they played with as young girls? There are some Barbie computer games ... but they usually are for kids while a business simulation usually is played by people well in their teens or even older.

On the other hand I own "The Sims 2" and all current add-ons ... and none of them has a pink cover or package. That might not seem important, but it is, considering that "The Sims 2" is one of the few computer games played almost equally by men and women. If you can sell millions of copies of a game to women without using a pink package, that can't be an important marketing factor.

Adventures are another type of game which women play a lot and they usually aren't coming in a pink package either. So what's the point in aiming for women to buy a game that might be of interest to men as well? The contents of the game - managing a company in the beauty business, arranging the various goods that are produced to follow the trends, keeping an eye on production and advertising - aren't especially feminine. You don't need to be a woman to grasp the way trends are followed in the game, it's just a question of arranging the percentage of certain components in the goods (two are given within a certain span, the third has to be guessed and everything can be fine-tuned with some testing). But I doubt any man will be bold enough to pick up this game in a shop and take it to the cash register - except, perhaps, while saying "it's for my girlfriend, you know" like a mantra over and over again.

I know pink is just one of a whole host of colours, nothing special and even nice in the right surroundings (and as the owner of a website with links turning pink while touched by the mouse, I shouldn't say too much against pink, I guess - but the whole website is basically black and besides red [which I use as regular colour for text] pink is one of the colours that work best with black). But sometimes I just wish pink wasn't associate that much with female things. It starts with baby clothes: light blue for boys and pink for girls. What's the point in that? Babies are not really interested in the colour of their clothes. Then there's the whole package from clothes to shoes to satchels right down to details like pens or pencils, everything in pink for the little girls while boys have quite a range of colours to choose from. Luckily my parents didn't fall for that...

And why pink? If you want to distinguish between boys and girls, you could use warm colours for girls and cold colours for boys (or the other way around, of course). Then you might use blue (even light blue) for a boy, but you couldn't use pink for a girl, pink is just a paler version of purple - and purple is usually counted as a cold colour, too. For a girl you could use everything from pale yellow to dark red, including orange which is a nice colour. So, why is pink so 'cute'? Because girls blush more often than boys? That's not really the case any longer ... girls are brought up differently and not as innocent or naïve these days.

I don't want to ban pink completely, but it would be nice if people could stop using it to bait women - it's both counter-productive (because men don't even want to get caught dead with something pink) and useless.

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