Not another teen video game

Paramount releases titles based on "Pretty in Pink," "Clueless" and "Mean Girls."

Published July 23, 2008 6:40PM (EDT)

The video game world has been abuzz lately (once again!) with talk of how to market games to women. And it isn't surprising that much of the chatter has been condescending and full of stereotypes. So now that Paramount has announced plans to create games based on popular teen movies from its back catalog and targeted to women, I feel a bit torn.

The good news is that Paramount has chosen to make games based on some real classics --"Pretty in Pink," "Clueless" and "Mean Girls" are all on the agenda. Though I'm slowly becoming addicted to Mario Kart for Wii, I can't usually get excited about video games. But there is something appealing about the idea of playing at high school social politics. I'm hoping "Pretty in Pink" includes a soundtrack by Psychedelic Furs and that "Clueless" amounts to something more than a makeover game.

I'm not particularly bothered by the concept of marketing games to women based on films that already attract an overwhelmingly female demographic. Some will say it's insulting that the movies chosen all revolve around high school trivialities like fashion, dating and popularity. At least all three of these comedies are also smart and funny, though. That's more than I can say for "Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor" or "Chronicles of Riddick," two films that have become video games ostensibly marketed to male gamers.

I doubt these "low-cost" and "casual" games will usher women into the world of more "serious" gaming, so this will certainly do nothing to further integrate that overwhelmingly male realm. And I don't see why manufacturers keep insisting that women won't play anything that's at all complicated. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't curious to see what Cher, Regina and Duckie have to offer.

By Judy Berman

Judy Berman is a writer and editor in Brooklyn. She is a regular contributor to Salon's Broadsheet.

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