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Thursday, September 19, 2013

KI Free Games Update Resurrects Age-Old Gaming Issues


KI Free Games as you know it no longer exists - it is now FreeKI Games (Freaky?) with a monster-themed background to match. However, there's specifically a section called Games for Girls that has Twitter in a fit about stereotypes, women in gaming, and marketing. Let's recap.

Gaming for Girls?

This morning, the site update went live. Take a look at http://www.freekigames.com/. There are a variety of different sections for games - Puzzle Games, Strategy Games, etc. But there's one that's getting a lot of attention - Games for Girls. This section includes a cooking game and spotlight on KingsIsle female gamers.
Johnny assumed that "...they will rotate KI girl employee's info/fav games and KI boy employee's info/fav games." Whatever the case, Katherine Light argues, "It's ... stereotyping girls and telling them what they SHOULD like." She says that the cooking games and others in the section are not fair placements. She notes that men would not like it if they had a section with only high-intensity shooting and action games.

She continues, saying that these games make a statement: "As in 'sure, you COULD choose that strategy game... but most NORMAL girls like to play these COOKING games!'" However, Legends brings up an excellent point regarding gender and sexism, saying, "Still not getting the difference, Girls clothing sections tell girls what NORMAL girls should wear as well." That was interesting to me, and absolutely true. Are girls in gaming really as oppressed as they claim? 

Sexism in Gaming

Here's my input, and whether or not it applies to this specific situation is irrelevant. This is what I said on Twitter: "You are a racist only if you claim one race is superior to another, NOT simply make distinctions between them. Likewise with sexism. Is it fair to generalize? Maybe, maybe not. They can be accurate, as long as they are labelled as generalizations, not absolute rules."

However, Christina Icedreamer made an interesting point: "We are born to our genders, race and ethnicity. What if the heading said 'Games for Latinos' or 'Games for Jews'?"

The Problem With a Girls Gaming Section

Alric brings up a great point. He says, I am against the double standard of since women are the only supposedly oppressed gender men's words are invalid. Secondly, I also don't like the whole attitude that it's somehow bad that someone likes something generally associated to a gender. For example; if my niece likes barbies she is "reinforcing gender stereotypes" and isn't for the 'cause'. Women can be just as guilty as men when it comes to stereotyping and that is my point, it's not just a one-sided battle."

That in mind, I don't think the issue is necessarily stereotyping. Yes, some distinctions are made. But they're just that - distinctions and generalizations. They're NOT absolute rules, and there's nothing wrong with making those distinctions. KingsIsle likely simply placed a number of games in a section with the idea in mind that they'd fill up some space with a creative spotlight. Legends made the comment, "Hmmm...so where is the line between categorizing and stereotyping? I like Ma1kavian's idea, just Play!"

Marketability

Autumn Dreamwalker, however, brought up a point that is not only relevant, but essential to KingsIsle and marketing their games. She said, "My son is 7 and is very sensitive if someone tells him something he likes is 'girly' He would play a cooking game if it was under a 'cooking game' category, but someone attaches a girl label to it, he wont. He is at an age where he is sensitive to peer pressure and doesn't want to be made fun of."

Suppose there's a girls' and boys' gaming section - this does not solve the problem. It automatically suggest that a certain set of games are to be enjoyed by a certain group of people. And with KingsIsle's target age group, that is certainly a dangerous game to play. 

A Closing Word

No matter what the case, some remain firm in their views. Katherine concludes that, "I'm not meaning to sound like I'm going on witchhunt, I think it was well intentioned, but the execution is facepalm worthy. [The] logic in & of itself is discriminatory. It says girls need their own section with pink, cutesy games to want to game."

What do you think? Is sexism a real issue in gaming? Should FreeKI Games be making a chance? Let me know by commenting! As always, thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral.

8 comments:

  1. IMO, what's going on is stereotyping. When you look at the girls clothes section, they are marketing clothing that fits female bodies. Not stereotyping. However, the girls games is. These games aren't made for females, but stereotypical "girls". It could make people feel left out, or different in a negative way.

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    1. If I may play devil's advocate...

      Do clothing stores, especially for girls, not market products through females that are considered to be what every girl should look like? Is that not worse even than the role of a female? And yet, that is alright when saying "Hey, many girls like these games, you might, too" is not alright? ;P

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    2. I feel that's like saying that mannequins that have women's clothes displayed on them are "what every girl should look like". It's silly to say that. Also, that last statement, almost like recommendations from other girls, really brought clarity. That would be okay. However, the category is titled "Games for Girls", not "Games recommended to you from girls like you". The former kind of gives the wrong idea. You know?

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    3. I am not referring to the mannequins, however. Most clothing stores use real people as marketers in both posters and commercials. The whole industry has created the idea of what a person should look like, what size they should be, and so on.

      I do agree that their wording could be better.

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  2. Honestly I don't see how it is a problem at all. KI free games is meant for little kids from maybe 7-11. There are always exceptions but I can promise you 99% of adults aren't going to have a ton of fun on the little flash games. KI literally made little tabs for what the majority of boys or girls would like. The stuff brought up on twitter really acted like it was outlawing girls from playing the "boy" games. No, like any game exceptions happen. I am 16 and playing Wizard101 regularly. How many people on average can say that in high school. (Through my internet experience I have found a lot but again, through the internet). The whole sexism issue isn't even an issue. For elementary schools I promise that it would never come up, especially when KI free games although owns the Kid Friendly MMO market, they are VERY far behind any of the larger school approved arcade gaming websites.

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  3. What is really interesting to me is Pink Lego. My wife and a lot of her friends were a little annoyed as they wanted their daughters to play with Lego (and all the benefits that go with that) but their girls didn't want to build trucks and cars. Pink Lego was a dream come true for them.

    Online gaming is kinda similar. A lot of women actually look for 'girl friendly' games that their daughters can play. While everyone is more than entitled to their opinion, it is worth noting that what some might find stereotyping, others simply find useful...

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  4. Hmm... even though I am in a sad mood right now this is interesting and a little rude telling girls what to play when I know girlrs who play WoW and MW3.

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  5. IMO. Its just a "Hey you might like this" And girls are worse when it comes to sexism than men quite a bit of the time in today's society. People will jump if a keyboard if its black and call it racism, No its a black keyboard.

    Honestly,i think people are over reacting. Its not against women because they did it for the guys as well...........

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