From oct 2010 my educational posts are published only on Pip

18 juli 2010

Girls' Games II - 2010

In 2010 7-10 years old boys play football and/or hockey. Girls too, 'it’s so good with team sports'. Then girls also do the gymnastics, ride horses and dance. No boys do that. Obviously it’s not considered important for the future.

Girls’ and boys’ outfits are more clearly separated both in colors and styles than back in the 80s, and the toys provided are still different according to current gender. Girls play with Littlest Pets and boys with Star Wars dolls, sorry figures, and Pokemon collectibles. Barbies are often passé already by 7. The ‘throw ball on the wall’ game has completely vanished. There were of course little commercialism in that, and no status gained.

But even though girls and boys seldom mix, the love games appear in the same age as before, around 7 or 8, and offer opportunities to spend some time together. Otherwise it’s only in computer games that I see girls and boys unite.

Today the computer experience starts a lot earlier
though. Seven years ago we played on with our one year old daughter. Today our youngest boy’s first words in the morning are ‘I want to play the veggies’ (veggie samurai for iPad).

My girls and their girl friends join at someone’s place playing Indiana Jones or Wii , and iPet. The family favourite is Little Big Planet. The girls spend most of their gaming time customizing their sackboy while dad is running the game forward.

The girls also play online. I’d say none of their male friends would ever join in the favourites girlsgogames or Stardoll, but otherwise it’s both online and by the consoles that they and their class mates find a common interest that today is gender neutral. The girls sit in the phone with Eliot and Linn while playing Panfu. They suddenly spend a couple of hours at the boy next door – playing Star Wars – a game they would not choose themselves, but that is fun enough and the console itself is not a problem.

Somewhat we’re back to the start of the games. I’d say many children don’t see the games, computers and consoles as male gendered. They don’t see them as techniques or machines, but as media for entertainment. They are not afraid to handle a joystick, even though I admit that the girls still want to watch for a while before trying a game, while the boys just jump into the game giving it what it takes.

Why this has changed lately? Both computers and consoles have become a standard in our life style? Lots of dads (and some moms) keep buying new consoles and want their kids to play too? Computers are both tools, entertainment and communication today?

I know I generalize a lot. Also there are more local preferences today as the supply is much wider than 30 years ago (at least in Sweden who has shifted from a social state to a capitalistic model), but I have also run communication with millions of girls word wide for the last 5 years, why I believe there is some truth in these generalizations.

There are some stronger separations in real life toys and spare time occupations than 30 years ago though and there are yet not many games that are built for girls by girls, or even for boys and girls, by girls. And why don’t women play as much in the middle of their lives and returning stronger than men later on. And what do the girls find so great about the sackboy? To be continued…

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Girls' Games I - 1980-1984

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