Monday, November 20, 2006

1990s strikes back!

1996 was the peak of (the first) girl games' movement. Brenda Laurel, Theresa Duncan, Laura Groppe and others founded companies such as Purple Moon, Her Interactive, Girl Games Inc. and Rhinestone Publishing. First Girl Games came out in 1993, Barbie Fashion Designer became a first best seller girl game in 1996 and surprised the market. Some legends claim that Barbie beated Quake (the hottest game on earth at that time) in sales figures but that was not the case. Barbie Fashion Designer did well though. The game was the sixth best-selling CD-ROM game in 1996 and 1997. Mattel sold more than 200,000 units within the first month of its release. In the last two months of 1996, retailers sold $11.5 million worth. After the success of Barbie game entrepreneurs got aggressively into girl games business and nearly 200 titles for girls were published in 1997 according to market analysts. Companies such as GirlGames and GirlTech flourished and web pages were pinky and fluffy.

In 1997 Girl Games Inc. published Let's Talk about Me which had four major sections entitled "My Personality," "My Body," "My Life," and "My Future." With the exception of the latter, they all offer a mixture of information and fun. Now Exchange4media has launched an online community for girls in the 14-19 age group to share their joys and anxieties and get solutions to their growing up concerns. is a guide to knowing what a girl always wants to know, but perhaps never asked. There are various interactive sections – viz. Your Body, Your Mind, Beauty, and Love and Relationships. For serious advice on family, friends, school and health, one can click on ‘Advice for Life’. Personal advice can be sought by posing the problem to ‘Ask Nisha’, a girl’s virtual friend. Beinggirl looks much better and has better content than girlspace ( but certainly miss the gaming part).

For me Beinggirl sounds like a re-run of Let's Talk about Me?! The 1997 version failed but perhaps better interaction possibilities and community aspect would do the trick? It is somewhat funny to follow the current trends (second wave of girl games) -- Pink PSPs and NDSs are currently available and titles / services published are leaning to the same images as girlgames SMEs in the 1990s. What were the lessons to be learned -- or is it just a question of timing? What I know is that Mimi Smartypants (Rhinestone Publishing) was one of my favourites. Especially the PANCAKE songs were excellent! There were five-to-six songs... well... about pancakes -- and they were really funny ones :)

No comments: