Times like this, I wish we had a woman on the PopMatters Multimedia staff (and hey, any who wish to apply only have to click here and follow the directions).
It being the case that we don't, I decided to go ahead and check out this past Sunday's Best Buy "Wii for Women" event myself. In case you hadn't heard of the event, either through Best Buy itself or the countless blogs that went ahead and did some of Best Buy's advertising for them, here's the flyer:
Right from the outset, it looks a little bit suspect -- I mean, we have a flyer that's attempting to lure women to a video game based event by making a point of offering non-video game stuff. Granted, it's Best Buy, so the GPS sort of makes sense, but raffling off spa visits? Do we even have spas in Buffalo?
(Oh, stop that. Of course we do. Somewhere.)
The event itself really wasn't much of an event, although based on coverage of other Best Buy locations' takes on the whole thing, the experience probably varied from place to place. There were two tables set up in the back of the store for the event, not the most ideal of locations but probably understandable given that a) it forces people who show up for the thing to walk through aisles of CDs and games, and b) the home theater demo center is back there. Walking up to the first table, I was assaulted by a collection of pretty much every game thus far that has caused the so-called hardcore gaming community to come to the conclusion that Nintendo is utterly abandoning them. Mario Party 8, Carnival Games, Guitar Hero 3 (itself perhaps the most stereotypically "male" product on display), Super Mario Galaxy, and, of course, Cooking Mama: Cook Off (you know, because women can relate to cooking) were all there, backed by a (very friendly) Best Buy employee whose sole job was to corrall people to the display and explain the games to people who asked.
There were two big screen TVs. On the first, a happy couple was playing a spirited round of Wii Sports' bowling, with a small audience watching. On the other was a lonely, abandoned game of Carnival Games. Seriously, people, which of you bought Carnival Games? They've shipped a cool million copies of that thing, and I still haven't met anyone who says "Ooooh, Carnival Games? Awesome game." They've announced a sequel.
I spent the entire drive home conflicted. On one hand, I was appalled at the blatant sexism on display, as a couple of large corporations' marketing teams knocked their heads together and created something that felt like the most stereotypical representation of the female gaming experience ever concocted. On the other hand, there is statistical evidence to back up the stereotype, so despite the fact that most gamers know a female or two that could whomp our asses to next Tuesday in Gears of War or whatever, it doesn't change statistics like 62% of casual gamers being female or 90% of the people who bought Diner Dash being female. Who am I to begrudge a corporation the opportunity to maximize its bottom line by playing it safe statistically? It's not like there were crickets chirping and tumbleweeds ambling by over at Best Buy, they actually drew a crowd, a crowd that seemed to be enjoying itself.
Jade Raymond makes the
This of course led me to wonder whether greased-up beefcake shots of myself would help to increase the Moving Pixels audience, but perhaps that's a blog post for another time.
Regardless, Wii for Women was an interesting event, if a bit uncomfortable for a male travelling alone. For those who care about such things, the mere establishment of an event like Wii for Women manages to point out the current state of the gaming gender divide better than any silly little essay or set of observations could ever hope to.