Have you been reading The Border House? I have. It’s a relatively new blog with a wide range of contributors, with the goal of “bringing thoughtful analysis to gaming with a feminist viewpoint.” It’s just over 2 months old now and I’ve already enjoyed many of their thought-provoking articles.
Last month, one in particular jumped out at me: “Pink Stuff”, by Nanasuyl. Although it’s certainly not the most concerning topic facing women in gaming, it’s definitely one that I notice a lot. Quite simply, it’s the color pink. As the author points out, it’s hard to go into a toy store or children’s clothing department without being bombarded by all things pink – at least, in the sections aimed at girls. And it seems that the assumption behind it is that all females must like pink. Want to make your product appeal to women? Why, that’s easy! Just make it pink!
It’s a mindset that irritates me deeply. It irritates me for starters because I happen to rather dislike pink; you won’t find any pink objects in my house unless it’s a rare cooked steak, and I can only stand to wear pink clothing at all if it’s a violent, offensive hot pink. But what irritates me the most is how it indicates such a superficial view of how to please women. As Nanasuyl rightly points out in the Border House article: “It seems the marketing people think girls will want a videogame just because it’s pink. I guess it never crossed their minds girls could want a videogame because it’s fun.”
I think I see what they might be trying to do here – make potentially “threatening” seeming “male” type items more accessible and less threatening by painting them in stereotypical feminine colors – but I still feel it’s a superficial view of both our interests and our intelligence. Even if I loved the color pink, I’m hardly going to be convinced that I like something I otherwise wouldn’t simply because it’s pink. Making a few portable game console covers pink is not going to make the games more appealing to women, nor will it make the gaming community seem more welcoming. I saw a pink colored machine gun at a shooting range in Las Vegas last year, and believe me, it was still plenty threatening and unappealing.
It also annoys me because the time, money and thought spent on making things pink is time, money, and thought that is not identifying the real problem or finding a real solution. It’s slapping a quick band-aid (and not a very effective one) over something that needs a visit to the hospital and an operation and convincing yourself that you’ve done your part.
So if anyone out there is contemplating adding more pink to their in-game armor, box art, or UI, please do both of us a favor and don’t waste your time. Instead, take a closer look at the real reasons that women aren’t playing your game – I guarantee it isn’t because of a lack of pink. Fix those problems first, and only then you can worry about offering custom color choices.
And I’d like it in orange, if you please. Not pink.
- Emily “Domino” Taylor