Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Imagine All the People...

In a radical departure from yesterday's topic, I'm going to be visiting a piece of video game-related news which is old as dirt (well, dirt that's a month-and-a-half old), but I doubt you've heard of it, so it's news to you!

The Nintendo DS has sold over 50 Million copies worldwide. Part of its success has come from the fact that it's selling to non traditional gamers, such as middle-aged folks (with favorites like Brain Age and, um...Brain Age 2) and to girls (with the Pink DS).

But now that there's so many young ladies playing with the DS, somebody needs to teach them things.

Like their place.

At least, that was the idea that someone had at Ubisoft's (pronounced Yoo-bi-soft) UK studios. You see, they released "Imagine," a short series of games in the UK which was aimed at girls 6-14. What are these new age video games for girls, you ask? Let's take a look at the first three games in the series!

Ah, this looks promising, doesn't it? Let's look at some of the features this £25 ($50) game has, according to Play.com.
  • Take care of 6 babies (one after the other), each with a distinctive character. Prepare their bottle and baby food in the kitchen, check on the amount of food in stock and buy the right food according to their needs. Rock the babies in a cradle, put on the soothing radio or move the mobile to help them sleep or to calm them down. Change their nappies to keep them clean, keep an eye on their health and dress them up with different clothes
  • Entertain the babies - Play with them and their toys, play music to make them dance and take them into the garden to play on swings and other garden toys.
  • Keep the house clean - Use fun mini-games to create a welcoming home for the babies: wash up, clean and vacuum, paint the walls, mow the grass, trim hedges and drive away spiders!
So, yes, this game not only teaches the ladies how to rear the children (I hope they skip over the actual birthing part, for the sake of their 3+ rating), but it also orders teaches them to keep the house clean, dammit!

Now, one thing I'm wondering about is that wide-hipped, underage mother on the box art (and don't you try to fool me and say it's a babysitter). What's the deal, Ubisoft? That should have been a 21-year-old woman with a wedding ring on her finger, watching her heterosexual husband walk out the door to do some bread-winning.

What is it about fashion designers looking like they're completely wasted, high, or highly wasted? I'm not really sure how realistic you can get with just a little 2"x2" screen when it comes to honest-to-goodness design. Also, I'm sure there's an alternate version of this box that appeals to "men with alternative lifestyles" and has a picture of, I don't know, Perry Ellis or something.

From what I heard, the alternate title to this was Imagine: Get Back in the Kitchen! Believe it or not, though, this is actually not the only cooking game on the DS. The other (far more popular one) is called Cooking Mama. However, despite the explicitly feminine title, that game has sold surprisingly well amongst men. While I'm not sure, I'm going to have to guess that those men are lonely single apartment-dwellers who buy it for the recipes it provides. I doubt those same men would buy this game, though, for two reasons. First, it's only available in England. But even those British boys won't be buying it because Cooking Mama's mascot is a cartoonish (and slightly creepy) middle-aged woman. This, though, has a young girl on it's cover. "I'm Chris Hansen. Why don't you have a seat over there?"

And there not stopping there! Some of their future games include such estrogenous topics as figure skating, pet veterinary practices, and...cooking, again. And yes, these games are not exclusive to girls, but c'mon! What self-respecting lad is going to buy one of these, except to give to his girlfriend (who will proceed to dump him). Ah, those crazy Brits!

Now, I'll admit, I didn't find this on my own independent research. I found it on prominent video game-oriented blog Kotaku (at least, it's more prominent and more video-game oriented than The Lobotomist's Dream). It got quite a few comments (240-some-odd; I'll get there one day), many of them naming possible sequels. Here are some of the better (by which I mean, worst) titles that I saw.

Imagine: Speaking When Spoken To
Imagine: Making Me a Sandwich
Imagine: Learning to Drive
Imagine: Ironing
Imagine: Earning 10 to 20 Percent Less for the Same Work
Imagine: Men Are Ten Times Better Than You At Everything

It looks like it's on its way to being a prolific franchise!


Anonymous said...

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I'm frustrated, to say the least. How could they do something like that?! I had no delusion that the glass ceiling was far from shattered. I'm still well aware that women are now not only expected to earn part of a household's income but also cook, clean, look after children...but this is RIDICULOUS!

I'll let little girls play barbie video games or sims or pets or whatever, but this...this is going too bloody far. women have come too bloody far in gaming, in everything, despite the damn double standards. though i must admit, there are continuous set backs, like women still claiming to be "independent" but refusing too look after themselves.

alksjdflsajdf ;lskj GAH!!!

I simply cannnot put into words my outrage! my infuriation!!

okay...I'll stop now.

Thank you, Andrew, for bringing this to my attention.

Anonymous said...

A hilarious symptom of a unfortunate sitution in Western culture. What ever happened to the days when women were saving the world in video games? Hell, even when these characters were playing second banana to their male counter-parts, they were frequently the chief reason why their counter-parts actually did anything (a la Inspector Gadget and his niece Penny.) I can see it now - "Imagine: Being a Soccer Mom and Driving a Mini-Van" or "Imagine: I'm Just a Girl."

This almost makes me want to vote for Hillary because she's a woman...Well, almost vote for her, she's still Hillary. I'm supporting Edwards in this election.

-Comrade Chavez