After I went to McDonald’s last month specifically to purchase a Happy Meal to get a Mario Kart toy I was asked a very peculiar question: “Would you like a boy’s toy or a girl’s toy?” I was actually taken aback because I am no stranger to McDonald’s and the fact that they usually have two sets of toys at one time for more variety, and YES, one more gendered than the other, but to be asked that? It was so strange. Here is the worst part of this story, I had no idea what the other set of toys was, but I had a hunch that the Mario Kart 8 toys would be considered the “boy’s toy”, and I was correct in my hunch. This is troublesome on many levels. McDonald’s Happy Meals are incredibly popular among children in North America (I would know…I certainly have had my fair share of Happy Meals), and because of this it means many children are being exposed to more gendered bullshit. I realize that almost everything is somewhat gendered; gone into a Toys ‘R Us lately? Enjoy the pink and blue sides of the store. My concern though is not on gendered toys (that’s a whole other annoyance), but that Mario Kart would even be gendered. Mario Kart to me is a gender neutral game. Yes, it is racing (which I realize caters more to males), but it is unrealistic fun racing that anyone can enjoy. Why should boys only like Mario Kart? There are also several female characters in that game, ie. Princess Peach, Daisy, Wendy, etc. At McDonald’s, Peach and Daisy were included in the Mario Kart 8 set of toys…yet, these are boy’s toys somehow. Why does McDonald’s do this? They don’t do it to force your little girls to get the Beanie Babies toys, they do it based on statistics and marketing. They know that more little girls want a Beanie Babies toy than a Mario Kart toy and vice versa. That is the other troubling part of this scenario…not enough little girls are playing games!
Video games are being advertised to men, and if they are being advertised towards women or girls, they are very dumbed-down games, or games about caring for something (ie. the Nintendogz series) or perhaps a game about cooking (Cooking Mama series). There would never be a commercial on TV for Grand Theft Auto V with a girl playing the game. Not in a million years. It’s really too bad, because I always thought of gaming as a gender neutral thing. When it comes down to it, video games are games, fun for anyone…why do men just get to enjoy them? I remember standing in the line-up to pick up Grand Theft Auto V back in September at EB Games and I was one of the only girls in the line-up, and let’s be honest, the women over 40 in the line-up were most likely just purchasing a copy for their son. Sad, but true. Why can’t women enjoy first person shooters? Is it because men typically are the ones at war? Why can’t I enjoy Assassin’s Creed, Grand Theft Auto, and now Mario Kart? This is getting silly. Even games with female characters are being aimed at men, like Tomb Raider. YES, I realize the new one really toned down the whole bimbo aspect to Lara Croft, but it’s an action adventure third person shooter that most of my friends who are girls have never played.
I was watching a video done from YouTuber Maddox about people complaining that women are being represented poorly in video games. His argument was yes they were, but perhaps we shouldn’t complain so much since women aren’t the ones making the games in the first place. He went on to say that what can people expect when one gender is trying to represent another, of course it is going to be off somehow. I agreed with that to some extent, but here is the other question we should be asking, why aren’t there that many female game developers? SOCIETY! As cliche as that sounds, it is kind of true. Girls just aren’t raised to play video games. Parents don’t typically buy their 10 year-old daughter a PS4…unless you are my parents of course! 😛 My parents raised me with the idea of “like what you like”, if you like Barbies, that’s cool, if you like Hot Wheels, that’s cool too. Whatever you like is just what you like, your gender shouldn’t dictate that. Thanks Mom and Dad, it’s funny how something so little can make such a huge difference…and is this why I went into Sociology? Perhaps. I was always annoyed when little girls would think I was weird for playing with my Game Boy Color at recess like I was predetermined not to like the Game Boy and since I did like it, I must be weird…kids, eh?
Do I have a solution to all of this? Absolutely not, but the more people voice their opinions the more the problem is ought to get fixed. I have honestly found that people will buy games because I say they are awesome on my YouTube channel, so hey, if there are some new parents out there who are hesitant about buying their little boy a My Little Pony toy, or a kick-ass model car for their little girl, who cares? Seriously. I’m getting sick of this. Instead of toys being gendered, why not just cater towards personality? 2014 is pretty good, and I live in a part of the world where I have pretty much everything, but I am getting annoyed with the whole notion that girls can only like this and boys can only like that. It’s not 1950 anymore, people like Vampire Goth Punk Alien shit now, nobody cares. I am a grown woman yet I watch the Magic School Bus, whatever. Nothing is as defined anymore, but somehow toys still are.
I just thought that I would share my thoughts with you on this issue, speaking from a female perspective who has always “liked boy things”. XD What do you guys think about this? Let me know your thoughts because I am curious if you have any stories or general comments.