It always is both humorous and enlightening to visit a major retailer and discover what games they decide are appropriate for girls. In the case of Toys R Us the selection can be viewed from the comfort of your home. This takes away some of the fun of mocking the titles with friends, but also provides a better chance to display the sad truth of what retailers sort into the girl’s categories.
To begin with, nearly all of the games Toys R Us has listed in the section feature some combination of horrible graphics, lackluster soundtracks and uninspired stories. There are few original properties here with challenging gameplay. Instead shoppers enter the land of Barbie and Disney, with titles like Hannah Montana: Spotlight World Tour, Zoey 101, Barbie Island Princess, Bratz the Movie, Dora the Explorer: Animal Adventure and Disney Princess: Magical Jewels. I had the misfortune of trying a Disney Princess game once, and I still have recurring nightmares of being trapped and surrounded by talking chipmunks, frantically holding the ‘B’ button down while moving in an attempt to run.
Also, the section suggests that girls only own, or have access to, a DS, Wii, PS2 or PC. There is only one Xbox title in the entire section – DDR Ultramix 2. Apparently PS3s and Xbox 360s are too complicated for young girls, or at least the offerings displayed hint at that. While there are few PS3 titles available, there certainly have to be at least one or two appropriate Xbox 360 titles.
The idea of a separate section of video games for girls isn’t a bad idea, but perhaps a major retailer like Toys R Us should take a closer look at what they’re recommending. Rather than just herding the latest Disney or Barbie games into one section, they should make an attempt to look at recent releases and have a wider selection of games. Perhaps include some girl power titles like Super Princess Peach, Touch Detective 2 1/2 and Pokemon Diamond/Pearl tossed in to balance things out a bit.