This article is meant to address the age 18 and under category of female gamers. Women gamers are sometimes called girl gamers but the term can be considered condescending when describing adult female gamers.
Women account for 48% percent of the gaming community which implies that at some point these women were girls who were introduced to video games and, gasp, liked it! Statistically speaking there is a very high probability that the young lady in your life already knows how to play, especially since adults tend to hand over their tables and smart phones to children to keep them busy. If she is between 8 and 12 years old, she and you may be looking for games that are more than a two hour episode of the most current fad or girly TV show. Sadly, most girl marketed games center around taking care of the house or pets, focus on fashion, center around princesses and, lack substance and strong female heroines. Because the box is purple and pastel colored it doesn’t mean the game is good for your daughter, sister or friend’s development or self-esteem: I am an ardent believer that this category should be either eliminated or revamped/re-defined to include more than what is traditionally considered “girly”.
Based on my 30 years of experience as a gamer, and the research I have done about the industry and how it treats and portrays women, I have put together a list of games that not only have been considered high quality experiences for video game aficionados, regardless of the gamer, but also have great character development, healthy views of female characters or have been designed to be player and viewer friendly. They give the player and audience a serious gaming experience filled with awe, wonder, awesome graphics and great story telling. Almost like books coming alive!
Princess Aurora awakens in a magical world where she needs to find and defeat an evil Queen to return to her reality. The games alludes to her death which makes this story somewhat of a fantasy after-world adventure, and includes magic and references to fairies and mythical creatures. The story requires that you read through the scenes similar to classic games like Zelda and Final Fantasy I. I recommend this game for younger players (6-8 year old) as long as an adult is present to help them read and understand the contents of the story.
Adorable sock puppets. Check! Online and offline versions to play with others in cooperative mode. Check! Kart racing, puzzles, boss fight, creative spaces and story telling. Check! In the LittleBigPlanet world you can customize your main planet and as you progress through the main story you get to unlock stickers, dresses and other supplies to deck out your character and home base. The game is modeled as a platformer or side scroller, like Super Mario Bros, which means you move up and down, left to right, with tools provided to get over particular obstacles and paths. The game is an international phenomenon due to its cuteness and ability to create your own worlds to share online. There are three installments in the series plus a karting game.
A town full of Ninjas has to defend itself from Mr. Demon and his minions. You must build defenses and strategies to protect the village utilizing the allocated funding and each ninja type’s skill set. It is considered a tower defense game similar to Plants vs Zombies . This exclusive game title is a little bit harder to find in stores but Nintendo has announced they will expand their online catalogues, giving this game a good chance or re-emerging. (Plants vs Zombies is good replacement for this title. Instead of Ninjas it features Plants defending their land against Zombies. It is not a Nintendo Exclusive.)
Final Fantasy is a PlayStation exclusive franchise developed by Square Enix that uses fantasy elements in their role playing games (RPG). The game features Zidane, the hero, who is on a quest to save his world from evil. In the process he meets a Princess, a Mage and a Knight who become a part of your team. Combat is turned based and up to 4 characters fight against the on screen enemies. What is different about this version of Final Fantasy is that is was designed as a medieval setting with a rendering style that made it seem like a comic book story.
The pros about the LEGO games is that they have titles based on popular heroes, movies, books and even other franchise games like RockBand. They deliver stories similar to the original content but in LEGO form and have an option to play cooperatively. The story mode has many difficulty settings and the puzzles are designed to be challenging but doable. LEGO RockBand requires the instruments or at least a microphone which you most likely have if you have purchased a sing-a-long video game. Pair the LEGO game with the Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings books to give the gamer an all encompassing experience.
This game is a Nintendo DS/3DS exclusive. The goal of the game is to write in words to solve the puzzles on the screen. The Unmasked game features DC superheroes and the story combines the elements of the previous game with the typical crime solving angle of superhero events. Because you have to write in words to assist the main characters, the game promotes vocabulary building and quick thinking. If you get creative the game uses the words you string together to create tools for the characters which are unique and adorable.
With cute dragons, bubbles, and bright colors this puzzle game only asks that you match three bubbles of the same color to clear the stage and help Bub save Bob to win the game. There are previous versions of the game going back to the Nintendo Entertainment Ssytem (NES). This is a Nintendo exclusive.
Disney enlisted the assistance of Square Enix and their Final Fantasy style storytelling to create a role playing game with popular characters from both franchises. As of July 2015, over seven installments exist, all sharing different stories and different Disney characters. The game play is similar to the Final Fantasy games with turn based combat and leveling up of the characters in the party. This game is so iconic that both children and adults love it!
The list is short not because there are only eight games worthy of mention but rather because each game will serve as an introduction to categories that have many more types of games than “girl games”. I omitted the pet games and classic games because there are a high percentage of people that already follow those trends, and the content is very simple and easy to play unlike the games mentioned above. Most games are designed as gender neutral but be wary of content; use the guidelines provided on the video game packaging to make sure it suits the intended player.
For those introducing your daughters, young relatives or friends into gaming, start with games that help develop core gaming skills like puzzles, 2D side scrollers (characters move up an down or sideways only) or simulation games (you build a particular community or setting and develop it). After they master basic skills, you can graduate them to 3D games with quick paced action or timed sequences, like action games or fighting games. Most of us start with a Nintendo 3DS without the 3D enabled and move onto the Wii/Wii U, Playstation and Microsoft Xbox platforms. Some of the games can be emulated in smart phones and tablets too, so you can play almost anywhere!
To be more successful in your quest to find the perfect game, make sure you know the gamer’s library (so you do not purchase duplicates), gaming style, console/equipment used to play and wish list. Follow the links provided to get more information on those titles that caught your attention and feel free to leave suggestions and comments below.
Note: If you read through this list you either don’t want to sit through hours on end of My Little Pony, Hannah Montana or other girl specific games or like me, happen to think your daughter/sister/friend deserves better content. Maybe you have already pulled out your tablet, smart phone, console or computer and loaded versions of the classic Nintendo, Sega and Atari games and she has taken interest, but you want to introduce her to more modern game play techniques, something worthy of an HD big screen TV and your favorite gaming console or platform. There’s also the possibility you could be a non gamer who is attempting to connect with a child or teenager by introducing yourself to their interests. Regardless of how you found this thread – Thank you! Because of people like you there are people like me out there: strong independent women playing video games and changing the world.