OK, so I know I said I was going to reduce playing games on my phone (and I AM! Really, I am,) however, at the reduced, allotted times I DO play I have been increasingly disturbed by the ads for other games that are playing on my game. (You followed that, right?) Especially the ads for Makeover Games.
I really feel like that should be followed with a dun dun DA! Or at least said in a voice of doom.
These games' storylines center around girls receiving makeovers so they can catch the guy's attention. The girls in the ads are always mocked by other people and are shown as miserable until they get their makeover. In one of the games, the character is shown over and over getting dressed and then her male counterpoint judges whether she is dressed appropriately. The makeovers focus on getting rid of body hair, wearing certain types of makeup and clothes (anything outside a certain parameter is deemed a "fashion emergency"), putting on heels, etc. in a very narrow range of what is acceptable. So... not only are the games teaching messages to girls that they are and should be judged on their appearance, then, the player herself, gets judged by the game on whether she did the makeover correctly? What. The. Fuck?
I took a moment when I first saw these ads to check myself. Perhaps, these ads are misleading and they're just to get people to download? Perhaps, there are other storylines in the games? But then I kept seeing ads for other games along the same lines. Frankly, the ads are so off-putting I have yet to download one. I ALMOST downloaded one, just to check it out. Impartial journalism and all. But then I read the comments and many of them reiterated the sexist themes played out in the ads and more than one mentioned how the characters are told to get rid of their glasses!
(Oh no. You don't fuck with glasses!)
One of the most disturbing things... almost all of these games are labeled for 4 years and up. I thought that we were in a new era of women empowerment? I thought we had left some of this crap behind. So why the hell are outdated, sexist, and repressive games popping up that are targeted to little girls, tweens, and teens?! Is this payback from some weird segment trying to hold onto patriarchal power? An intentional undermining? Because somehow this feels a bit like when the women's movement started to get rolling in the 60s and 70s, and suddenly there was ALSO a huge explosion in porn. (OK, ladies, you can go to work! But you're all nymphos or ball busters and no one will take you seriously.) But these games are worse because they are targeting children. The ads, in fact, tell girls that these are the type of games (and attention) they're supposed to want, even if they don't actually play them. It's conditioning them in restrictive stereotypes on multiple levels. And it's also conditioning them to normalize judgement in all its unhealthy glory.
So I have to ask... are there companies out there so fearful that the future is female that they have to tell five-year-olds they'll never be happy unless they dress a certain way?
I'm not paranoid if it's true.