It is fair to say that women involved with the video game industry are greatly under-represented, and women often feel isolated from core groups of gaming enthusiasts. This exclusion isn’t coming exclusively from the opposite sex. Nor is it coming exclusively from other women. It is a view held by ‘society’. Instead of ‘people that play video games’, it has become acceptable to believe that there are boys that play video games; and there are some girls that may play video games from time to time.
This is not a true reflection of video game use, with the Electronic Software Association reporting that hundreds of thousands of girls are getting involved and playing video games online and with friends. The need to actively include a whole group of people based purely on their gender is something which doesn’t sit quite right in the ever growing digital landscape, especially one filled with successful female role models who are turning companies such as Zynga and Facebook into market leaders in the digital sector. But on the other hand, the issue is something better acknowledged than ignored.
Multinational gaming giant Nintendo recently launched a new video campaign on Youtube which specifically targets women. ‘Nintendo Girls Club’ is a collection of videos put together especially for the online campaign, featuring celebrity endorsement from Jorgie Porter, famous for her role in teen drama Hollyoaks. Videos include trailers for recent releases, unboxing videos for the 3DS console and guides or games such as Animal Crossing: New Leaf, New Art Academy and New Style Boutique. At first look, Nintendo seem to be onto something. Encouraging young girls and teens alike to engage with the video games they have on offer sets a great example for those developers and publishers who are maybe forgetting that 48% of all gamers are in fact, female. (A statistic which is up 3% from last years figures)
Albeit setting a good example, Nintendo Girls Club isn’t perfect. The campaign is reinforcing negative gender stereotypes which are at the root of issues faced by girls looking to be accepted by the wider gaming community, and creative industries in general. Iconography such as princess crowns and pink fairy-lights could be seen as a little patronising for those girls already sitting down to play co-op Monster Hunter online with their friends. And girls with Ambassador 3DS systems who have supported Nintendo from the launch of their latest handheld console may feel a little uncomfortable with the suggestion that women need guidance and encouragement to pick up a console and play. Interestingly, Nintendo have also made the decision to edit all game trailers featured on the channel, replacing the original male voiceovers with the voice of a female.
Aside from the criticism, Nintendo seem to be on the right track. Nintendo Girls Club is not insisting that all girls interested in video games must play the games featured on the channel, or even that they will be enticed by a series of videos hosted by an actress from Hollyoaks. What it is aiming to do is recruit the hordes of young girls who are currently mesmerised by the idea of Candy Crush Saga. The girls who enjoy Temple Run and Angry Birds. The girls who may not instinctively classify themselves as a ‘gamer’, but who would be right at home with a handheld system designed to specifically provide engaging and interactive software on the go.
Nintendo are attempting to broaden their user base, targeting a market who are so often left out when it comes to interactive software marketing. Being a girl interested in video games can sometimes be tough, but times are changing; one Nintendo Girls Club at a time.
Chat to us about this at @lpoolgirlgeeks
Written by Hollie Pattison