WHY HULK-MARG MAD (AND THEREFORE SMASH)
August 12, 2009 12:35 PM   Subscribe

Hulk-Margaret smash stupid Sony. Girls not stupid lilac people. Girls strong and awesome! AAAAARRRRR! Hulk-Marg like gems. Hulk-Marg like gem sweaters (previously). But Hulk-Marg no like pandering only to gem interests. Hulk-Marg well-rounded, has many interests and layers. Hulk-Marg give example: SMASHING. Let Hulk-Marg find PowerPoint and laser pointer. Hulk-Marg has PowerPoint here somewhere. Ahem. Hulk-Marg found PowerPoint. Made slides. [via mefi projects]

Sony's PSP product marketing joins more than Miss Bimbo in the ranks of shallow portrayals of the interests of women. Dell created the "female focused" sub-site "Della" with softer colors, and Even LEGO has their girl-centric sets, focusing on pinks, purples, and ponies. While the number of female gamers increases, Sony is limiting the games they push with the OMG Lilac PSP marketing scheme to Patapon 2, Locoroco 2, Hannah Montana, Petz, Pangya Fantasy Golf, and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs, to the concern of some female gamers ("I can't help but feel as if young female gamers are being smothered into a niche where they have little chance to be open to trying different types of video games"). On the GameGirl blog, a top 7 list for upcoming PSP games is a much different world from golf and ponies, as suggested by Sony.
posted by filthy light thief (53 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
The text above the fold was copied from ocherdraco's backstory to the powerpoint.

More material: Gamer girls aren't special anymore: written by Dairuka Sutain for the Busted Analog editorial series on Total Gaming Network.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:38 PM on August 12, 2009


oh you are the best. I was considering posting this, but didn't think I'd give it enough oomph to make a good post. and look at you! you are awesome.

also, the series of tubes graphic in the powerpoint is making me happy.
posted by shmegegge at 12:42 PM on August 12, 2009


Who's Margaret?
posted by Naberius at 12:43 PM on August 12, 2009


WTF SNY?
posted by Devils Rancher at 12:45 PM on August 12, 2009


I gave my two year old daughter a toy monster truck. She wrapped it in a blanket and rocked it to sleep.
posted by Pollomacho at 12:48 PM on August 12, 2009 [27 favorites]


Anything that tries to market gaming/computers to girls and that uses the "z" word must burn.
posted by strixus at 12:50 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


I realize this thing irritates a lot of female gamer types, but the fact is this kind of marketing actually works when its aimed at young girls tweens. Maybe it's something that most girls grow out of, but it's not just a product of marketing execs projecting traditional gender roles that don't exist.
posted by delmoi at 12:51 PM on August 12, 2009


You know what would have worked for me, delmoi? If they had just shown girls playing the same games the boys were playing. Maybe I would have felt like less of a freak, and been able to convince more friends to play, if say, Everquest had just once run an ad with a girl playing it instead of a guy.
posted by headspace at 1:00 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Who's Margaret?

ocherdraco. Also, awesome.
posted by Caduceus at 1:01 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Maybe it's something that most girls grow out of, but it's not just a product of marketing execs projecting traditional gender roles that don't exist.

From the concern of some female gamers link, the author (a grown-up girl-gamer) supports some of the gender-role games, but worries that focusing solely on such stuff will limit the worldview of young girl gamers. Dress-up and playing house is fun, but isn't there more? What about RPGs? They can be wonderful worlds of make-believe, but don't need a layer of glitter to make it appeal to girls.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:01 PM on August 12, 2009


Who's Margaret?

ocherdraco. Also, awesome.


Yeah, I didn't give enough clear credit to her in the beginning. Above the fold: ocherdraco's work. Below: my additions.

posted by filthy light thief at 1:03 PM on August 12, 2009


I gave my two year old daughter a toy monster truck. She wrapped it in a blanket and rocked it to sleep.

I know a two year old boy who does the same thing, complete with story-reading and kisses. Cute, right?
posted by kathrineg at 1:05 PM on August 12, 2009 [9 favorites]


Pollomacho, keep giving your daughter the monster trucks. They've been unfairly labeled as monsters and can use all the affection she will give them.

She will raise them up to merely be "Misunderstood Trucks".
posted by striatic at 1:06 PM on August 12, 2009 [22 favorites]


Okay, first off, yes, girls are different from boys. We know that; that's not the issue. Yes, I like gemstones and lilac sometimes. I love Animal Crossing and I even played Neopets at one point, god help me, but that is, I repeat, NOT the issue.

When you specifically designate something for "girlz", you are making the unspoken assertion that the other things are for "boyz". I like playing cutesy games with talking animals. I also love making messy headshots in zombie games. Neither of those interests should have to be defended with regards to my gender.

If you have a game about pretty, pink, zombie-eating ponies, market them to people who like pretty, pink, zombie-eating ponies and leave their gender out of it!
posted by Diagonalize at 1:09 PM on August 12, 2009 [8 favorites]


What about RPGs? They can be wonderful worlds of make-believe, but don't need a layer of glitter to make it appeal to girls.

I totally read this wrong the first time and had an image of a glitter covered, lillac rocket propelled grenade launcher.

Which would be awesome.
posted by Pollomacho at 1:12 PM on August 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


I imagine that once you cross a certain threshold of Hannah Montana interest and dedication, you'd probably like this system.

The same principle applies to the special edition God of War, Star Wars, and Final Fantasy 7 PSPs -- I am personally interested in all three franchises, but not so much that I felt I needed an officially gussied-up PSP.

I'm happy with my silver one, which has a large, mostly blank surface perfect for embellishment with logos, illustrations, or slogans of my own. And really, if there's any criticism one could make of Sony regarding portable software and marketing, it's that the PSP just doesn't have that much in the way of games (marketed towards any or no specific gender) available for it. I figure that the release of the PSP Go will be heralded by a great increase in its online catalog, but I digress.

There's a far greater variety of games for the DS, which just so happens to be available in a gagillion more gender-marketing-free (and equally sticker-friendly) colors -- more if you're the importing sort.
posted by lumensimus at 1:14 PM on August 12, 2009


Pollomacho, had she been watching this or other works of Mogipbob? Or maybe Thomas the Tank Engine?
posted by filthy light thief at 1:16 PM on August 12, 2009


a glitter covered, lillac rocket propelled grenade launcher.

A sort of Hello Katyusha, if you will.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:26 PM on August 12, 2009 [15 favorites]


I realize this thing irritates a lot of female gamer types, but the fact is this kind of marketing actually works when its aimed at young girls tweens. Maybe it's something that most girls grow out of, but it's not just a product of marketing execs projecting traditional gender roles that don't exist.

Part of the reason that it irritates female gamer types is that girls are not one homogeneous group that all love pastels and ponies, and at least in my experience the female gamer subset doesn't overlap very much with the pony-loving subset. Yes, the tween girl videogame market is probably untapped for the most part, and probably the biggest obstacle the videogame industry has in making games tageted at young girls is that nearly every game made in that genre up to this point has been terrible (such as the many Barbie games or Hannah Montana games produced).

Nintendo has always done a good job of solving these sorts of problems by going in the opposite direction: instead of making a lot of specialized games for all different types of demographics, they make a small number of really great games that appeal to all different kinds of people. Similarly, the film industry puts out its share of crappy films targeted at tweens, but most of the higest-grossing films get there by being popular with all demographics.
posted by burnmp3s at 1:28 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


And to extend Diagonalize's point, when you specifically designate something for "girlz", you are making the unspoken assertion that it is NOT for "boyz". There are broad-stroke differences between males and females, yes. But creating and policing hard boundaries between "masculine" and "feminine" interests and activities can be exhausting, frustrating, and downright harmful to people who want to operate outside those boundaries - which most of us do to some extent, and which many of us have paid some kind of price for doing, either by cutting off part of ourselves in order to fit in to expectations, or in having to fight to be whole. Having some stupid marketing campaign come along and reinforce those boundaries in the service of making money - on some level, that just hurts.

Or, to put it in more satisfying terms:
HULK-MARG MORE THAN SUM OF HULK-MARG PARTS! SO WHY PSP ONLY MARKET TO PART OF HULK-MARG!
(Hulk-Marg is my new hero. I wish I had a PowerPoint of Righteous Rage.)
posted by EvaDestruction at 1:49 PM on August 12, 2009 [5 favorites]


Lilac? The gameriest gamer-person I know is female, and her favorite color is fluorescent green.
posted by egypturnash at 1:51 PM on August 12, 2009


egypturnash, no offense, but it really shouldn't matter if her favorite color were lilac.
posted by Diagonalize at 1:53 PM on August 12, 2009


I gave my two year old daughter a toy monster truck. She wrapped it in a blanket and rocked it to sleep.

My mother kept anything gun-like from my little brother. One day, he held a cow by the body and pointed the tail at my mom and said "bang." Kids are creative little scamps, and can make things work as they want with what they have.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:57 PM on August 12, 2009


If people are really raising children to believe an ad campaign can dictate their gender roles, they've got bigger problems than lilac PSPs.
posted by scrowdid at 2:19 PM on August 12, 2009


Game marketers have one job and one job only: sell lots of games. They think this campaign will sell more games overall than one that treats male and female gamers equally. They're probably right.
posted by rocket88 at 2:26 PM on August 12, 2009


Game marketers have one job and one job only: sell lots of games. They think this campaign will sell more games overall than one that treats male and female gamers equally. They're probably right.
posted by rocket88 at 5:26 PM on August 12 [+] [!]


Slave labor is cheaper than paid labor, but that doesn't mean it's a good idea. I get where you're coming from, but c'mon, we can set the bar a little higher than soulless profiteering.
posted by Diagonalize at 2:31 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


rocket88: "They're probably right."

I'm inclined to disagree, especially seeing as this is Sony, whose gaming ad campaigns of late have been legendarily badly received. I think girl gamers respond to the games they like, and not an ad telling them they should like the psp because now it's purple.
posted by shmegegge at 2:36 PM on August 12, 2009


I just don't think we should get all wound up that there's a lavender PSP aimed at girls. There'll probably be an army camoflauge version next. Sony aren't the least bit interested in creating or perpetuating gender stereotypes as much as blindly following them to (successfully or not) generate sales. That's all they want to do.
Pissing off feminists is just a pleasant side effect.
posted by rocket88 at 2:48 PM on August 12, 2009


ba dump bump.
posted by shmegegge at 2:53 PM on August 12, 2009


I have to admit growing up I freakin' loved My Little Pony. Favorite video game? Mortal Kombat.
posted by shownomercy at 2:57 PM on August 12, 2009


If you have a game about pretty, pink, zombie-eating ponies, market them to people who like pretty, pink, zombie-eating ponies

OMG! Me! ME!!!!!
posted by lumpenprole at 3:26 PM on August 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


I just don't think we should get all wound up that there's a lavender PSP aimed at girls... Sony aren't the least bit interested in creating or perpetuating gender stereotypes as much as blindly following them to (successfully or not) generate sales.

Well, for one thing, "blindly following" gender stereotypes does perpetuate them, so there are grounds to call Sony to task for that. People who make a stink about this are optimistic enough to think that raising enough of a fuss about this product and campaign might just have the kind of negative effect on Sony's sales and public image to cause them to rethink the way they approach young gamers and female gamers. If you don't think their current approach is a problem, fine. Spend your time and energy elsewhere. But there is not a "we" here that you speak for.
posted by EvaDestruction at 3:35 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


When you specifically designate something for "girlz", you are making the unspoken assertion that the other things are for "boyz".

By this logic, everything that's not a douche or a tampon is boys only.
posted by scrowdid at 4:13 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can I be the guy who admits that were he to buy a PSP (one day, one day) he'd, I'd totally buy the lilac one, cause purple is the prettiest color? Apparently, yes.
posted by mikoroshi at 4:35 PM on August 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Oh man, I went through the typical girly pony-lovin' (not in any kind of Catherine the Great kind of way) phase, but I spent most of it in barns, so I am so far from comprehending what the point of playing "Horsez" could possibly be.

Unless they were zombie horsez. Then that would be awesome.

And while I am a fairly "girly" adult, I was a very tomboyish kid, and no way would I ever have deigned to play with something purple. To market to my demographic, it would have needed to be red with a panda bear sticker on it and have come pre-installed with a game that featured baby animals and made a lot of farting noises.

It's a pretty specific demographic.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:20 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


zombie horsez

GRAIIIIINS....
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 5:41 PM on August 12, 2009 [18 favorites]


when you specifically designate something for "girlz", you are making the unspoken assertion that it is NOT for "boyz"

This. I do not understand why Big Toy still thinks this is a viable revenue stream. It's like, "Here's this new model! It'll sell 89% less than the old one!" What's the point?

The way to do this is to introduce, alongside the usual black and pink models, a blue one, a green, a red, etc. Then the choice of model becomes more about personal expression than How girly am I?

Maybe each regular Lego set could include both male and female astronauts or whatever, but why go beyond that?
posted by Sys Rq at 5:55 PM on August 12, 2009


I saw one of the PSP ads today on a billboard and it was so breathtakingly stupid I had to take a photograph. The worst thing about it was it was advertising some Hannah Montana game. I can't even find a review for these games, but I'm guessing they aren't so great. But of course girls would want to buy it because they're dumb and will play crappy games because OMG! Hannah Montana!

About every two years we go around this block, trying to market games to girls with branding and pinky colours. It's the laziest sort of marketing, and I can only guess they're phoning it in because they don't think they have any hope of succeeding.

In the meantime, more than 20% of the 11million+ people playing World of Warcraft are female. It's a big part of why that game is successful. And try as I could, I never could find any pink armor. Huh.
posted by Nelson at 5:59 PM on August 12, 2009


When trading in our respective DSPhats for DSLites, the husband and myself chose a pink DS and a blue DS. The store clerk handed my husband the blue and I got the pink. We looked at each other in amusement and traded. It was kinda humbling. Gendered colors are so prevalent and "obvious" that it's a little embarrassing to be a woman that despises pink. It makes me feel like I'm not woman enough because clearly this color (animal/job/clothing) has been set aside for all things feminine. The real kicker is that only a few generations ago, pink was considered a masculine color- the diminutive of red.

While I understand that this is simple marketing without malice, simple marketing is deeply effective outside of its intended target. Shit, man- I can still sing the jingle that sold the stomach-turning Ninja Turtle pie things. Advertising- especially when one is young- can stay far longer than the product and ideas that instill expectations have unforeseen consequences. If the Ninja Turtles had pseudo-rapped how girls totally love to eat (TMNT brand) pie while shoe shopping and talking about boys, I may suddenly have an adult preference for pie. There is not a need to make gaming, toys, or- god forbid- dessert gendered in order to sell these things. When one does use gender expectations to sell non-gendered things, it makes outsiders where there should be none.
posted by cheap paper at 6:52 PM on August 12, 2009


Setting expectations for kids does have an effect; you tell girls that girl+sparkle=pink, then any girl who doesn't wear pink gets looked at as "weird." Is she less a girl? Does her color preference have any bearing on her sexuality? No. But those expectations have been set, and the (very large) number of people who don't fit inside them get erased.

Marketing/capitalism is not omnipotent; we regularly discuss epic fail marketing campaigns here on the Blue, no? New Coke was a result of these all-knowing advertisers really catering to "the market" too. Why should Gender Absolutism be any less of a failed plan? Advertisers are human beings with human prejudices, not forces of nature.

The real reason the pink/blue binary persists is because the buyers are adults, not kids; pink ponies and blue guns are what make (some) moms and dads feel comfortable buying for little Sally and Bob. The kicker is, since enough pink ponies and blue guns are out there, often Sally and Bob will come to feel they need them because all their friends already have them. Not because of some magical evopsych Pink Pony/Blue Gun gene.

Little boys improvise guns because they see their friends playing that way, and they want to participate. I've seen this at work with my son, who only developed his Thomas obsession after his favorite friend at school transmitted it to him; we'd played with Thomas stuff before, he'd been meh on it. But when his buddy loved it, he started to also.
posted by emjaybee at 7:27 PM on August 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Not because of some magical evopsych Pink Pony/Blue Gun gene.

True dat, and color preference isn't part of any kind of biological/evolutionary gender development, but kids really do develop differently in terms of gender. The way kids play with toys is totally different between girls and boys. I definitely view gender as fluid and sort of more of a continuum than a binary, but boys and girls *DO* have distinct toy preferences and the way they play with toys is different.

Now, that's not to say that every kid with a penis plays with his toys like a "boy," I'm just saying that there is at least a partial biological component. Though that component has nothing to do with color preferences.

If marketers would develop toys to sell based on this kind of a model "Boyish" children and "Girlish" children instead of "Boys and "Girls," I think they'd make a lot more money and more parents would be comfortable buying their boy Dr. Teddy Bear with the pink scrubs or whatever and their girls the blue sparkly toy horse trailer/tractor set than the current binary we've got now where it's really totally embarrassing to try and give *individually* appropriate toys to kids of the "opposite" gender from the toy's target demographic. (Embarrassing for the parents that is. Kids really don't care about marketing, unless they've seen commercials. Oh boy. There's some evil right there.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:43 AM on August 13, 2009


Part of the reason that it irritates female gamer types is that girls are not one homogeneous group that all love pastels and ponies, and at least in my experience the female gamer subset doesn't overlap very much with the pony-loving subset.

Yes. As a kid I didn't get toys I wanted because they were 'boys toys', but got baby dolls, which left me utterly cold. My favourite colour was green.

I don't game enough to be called a gamer, but it irritates me so much that any technology that isn't in black has to come in pink - because that's what women want when they want a stylish colour, right? Black things are dull and get lost too easily. Pink just...well, it makes me look like a woman who likes pink.
posted by mippy at 9:10 AM on August 13, 2009


boys and girls *DO* have distinct toy preferences and the way they play with toys is different.

Cite please.
posted by kathrineg at 9:16 AM on August 13, 2009


Personally, I think there's a far greater sin being committed here. For better or worse, lilac and glitter is synonymous with "for girls". I won't defend it, as I can see how a number of anti-conformists might feel oppressed by marketing a product to them as a homogeneous demographic. But do a quick survey of the PSP platform, and it's pretty clear that the limited marketing scheme isn't a sample but the entire spectrum for people who identify with that. It's somewhat confusing that the best video game heroine is Lara Croft, specifically engineered to appeal to adolescent boys. This marketing might as well be a lie, that backfires as the people they reach out to discover the PSP culture is decidedly not for them, and write off the platform and maybe even all game platforms.

But I really do think can be designed to appeal more to one gender than another, glitter and all. Maybe it happens because of a society wide gestalt we bludgeon children into, or because the vast majority of game developers are young men, or because marketing thought they had a better chance at appealing to more guys than the tiny sliver of women owning the console. Which is why Sony is now running this "GIRLS: OMG buy a PSP!"

But it's just waaaay too late for the PSP, and may have in fact been doomed to gender imbalance from the start. As a Sony platform, and a PlayStation(tm) platform, it inherits a fan base they've already built from ages of stupid marketing. And yet, Nintendo has come from an in some ways an even greater deficit (how much more sexist than "Gameboy" does it get?), and they've done more to engage and appeal with the wider market.

Finally, no discussion of sexism in games and marketing is complete without consideration of Cooking Mama.
posted by pwnguin at 12:29 PM on August 13, 2009


boys and girls *DO* have distinct toy preferences and the way they play with toys is different.

Cite please.


Beyond the anecdotes on stereotyped toy-play (and counter-anecdote) offered in this thread, here are a few quick links: lots of quick summaries of studies (but no links to said studies), and primates may follow gendered-toy patterns in ways attributed to humans (with comments to add to the discussion). I don't claim that they're fantastic sources, and I'm sure there are counter-studies to disagree with the points made.
posted by filthy light thief at 2:22 PM on August 13, 2009


boys and girls *DO* have distinct toy preferences and the way they play with toys is different.

Cite please.


I'm a nanny. I've been working with kids since I was 14. I'm also a "gender warrior" of sorts in that I think that the patriarchy needs to be overthrown. Man.

And I can tell you, each child has VERY distinct preferences, and by and large, those preferences do follow a pattern along gender lines. I am not going to go through and give six thousand anecdotes, just leaving it at even with the *same* toys, boys are more likely to create a fantasy scenario, and girls are more likely to create a family dynamic between the toys.

Oh, believe me, I would like to be the first to say that gender is entirely a social construction and that you should give all children amorphous yellow blobs to play with, but it's not realistic. Kids develop a gender identity very young, and that gendered view of the world is EXTREMELY important to them in terms of deciding who is who and who fits into what category. The categories don't need to be rigid, and it's up to adults to keep them fluid, but children are going to decide "I'm a ___ and you're a ____" no matter what. And their toy preferences tend to follow their identity patterns. Boys want to build. Girls want to nurture.

This is not to say that this is true 100% of the time, I had a boy in my preschool class who always wanted to play in the kitchen area and wear high heeled shoes and LOVED Dora the Explorer. He was a totally, totally normal boy and there's nothing odd about this sort of gender-bending phase at all. It's just that it *is* the outlier, that there are kids who go through a very strong phase of preference for toys and play normally reserved for the "other" gender.

Still, 90% of boys I've cared for would rather play with cars and balls than dolls. And 90% of girls that I've cared for will build castles (for princesses) and birthday cakes if given a box of legos.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 2:46 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


fwiw, grapefruitmoon, the part of your earlier comment I'd rather see a citation for is: "I'm just saying that there is at least a partial biological component."

I mean, are you just talking about testosterone versus Estrogen or what? What I understand about those hormones (admittedly little) is mostly about aggression and/or sympathy. Now, that may contribute to a boy's fascination with guns or swords or whatever, but I've never heard anything that implied that boys responded more to fantasy scenarios for genetic reasons. The overwhelming majority of what I've read and heard on these topics is based on societal conditioning, which as you've said starts having an effect on them almost immediately from birth.
posted by shmegegge at 3:22 PM on August 13, 2009


Testosterone/estrogen/androgens start affecting the shape and development of the brain in utero.

Cite.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:39 PM on August 13, 2009


The Nature article must have left the part out about how girls will buy second-rate video games if you just colour them pink.
posted by Nelson at 5:48 PM on August 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Dudes, I only just now realized that this got FPP'd (and I didn't even find it myself—The Straightener told me).

I didn't even think it would get approved for projects.

I feel like I just got first place in the science fair—excuse me, I mean:

HULK-MARG LOVE MEFI.*

*BUT NOT TO DEATH. HULK-MARG VERY CAREFUL.
posted by ocherdraco at 7:57 PM on August 20, 2009 [3 favorites]


I think it is so hilarious that as an admitted compulsive Mefi F5'er this is the one thing you missed in like the last 6 months.
posted by The Straightener at 9:28 PM on August 20, 2009


holy shit, I just realized that I met you at the meetup and didn't connect you with the Hulk Marg thing. I'm such a boob! If I'd realized, I'd have given you a huge hug. this thing is the bee's knees. thanks!
posted by shmegegge at 8:20 AM on August 21, 2009


I dunno, it was still pretty great that when I introduced myself to you at the meetup you said, "You're ocherdraco? I love you!" That totally made my night.

The Schmoopy just can't be stopped.
posted by ocherdraco at 8:37 AM on August 21, 2009


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