Marketing To Girl Gamers? Try A Little Subtleness

snowwhiteA while back this clever decal, posted by one of the creative folks over on the craft exchange site Etsy, was making the rounds on the web courting oohs and ahhs from techie blogs (who also got a hold of a color copy) and pop culture appreciators alike. It got me to thinking about brands’ efforts to personalize technology for a target demo on the outside as well as the inside, and the missteps that sometimes get made along the way. Especially when it comes to girls.

It’s not often we see anything as subtle as this etching in the alleged minefield that is video game marketing targeting young girls. At best, as an exasperated adult female gamer on Jezebel points out in her response to this WSJ piece, we’ve seen ads like the DS1 series for Rhythm Nation featuring Beyonce playing on a black handheld console. A spot that not only defies stereotypes, but (note to marketers!) had enough general appeal to become a bona fide  YouTube hit. More often though, we see the pink, purple, sparkly, acronym-heavy variety of feminine packaging. Which sure, will appeal to some young ladies. But for others, especially when it comes to older more savvy tween/teen girls, will read like a lazy effort that plays on stereotypes. As will Games 4 Girls displays that “playfully”  spell out the segregation between general gaming and girl gaming.

All of this is not meant to put down the gaming industry completely for their efforts to welcome girls into the fold. In general, music games like Guitar Hero and Rock Band  have done a lot in that department. And I am encouraged by the amount of time and research we’ve seen on the girl front (even if the end results have been mixed). Like we heard from Tween Summit attendee Kiley, the growing number of  options that go beyond shoot em up war games has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated. Still, when it comes to taking a gendered approach in this traditionally guys-only zone, I’d like to see more attempts at inclusivity as well as nuanced marketing that doesn’t defer to shrieking the girlie girl message. Just take a cue from our Apple-wielding friend here.

For more coverage of the tween space, check out the Ypulse Tween Channel.


  1. igirlpower

    Is it lazy marketing or skewed insights that is causing game companies to develop lame, pink, sparkly, blingy, sexy and full of attitude, stereotypical games?  This is the question that haunts brand managers… how can we be sure we’re gaining authentic vs. skewed insights with our research efforts?  The gaming industry may be teaching us all a lesson: we’ve got to be careful about how we analyze responses and insights.  How are these insights generated?  What initiated the discussion?  How authentic were the responses in the first place?  Get those answers before you start evaluating any insights or begin making any decisions about your brand.

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