Growing up, I was always the kind of girl that wanted to be “a girl” when I played games. But there was one game that was never the case. You see, while I like my gender and like “pretty characters,” I also have an infatuation with winning.
And as a young girl, I knew you didn’t win being a girl.
And that’s what Hasbro’s Guess Who? game teaches. Now, as they told a six year old who had the courage to write to them about this inequality:
Guess Who? is a guessing game based on a numerical equation. If you take a look at the characters in the game, you will notice that there are five of any given characteristics. The idea of the game is, that by process of elimination, you narrow down who it isn’t, thus determining who it is. The game is not weighted in favour of any particular character, male or female. Another aspect of the game is to draw attention away from using gender or ethnicity as the focal point, and to concentrate on those things that we all have in common, rather than focus on our differences.
But Hasbro, that’s not good enough. As the girl’s mother pointed out, just as masculinity isn’t a “characteristic,” neither is femininity.
But Hasbro isn’t the only one reinforcing these unequal gender stereotypes in games. You are too. The mothers and fathers and aunts and uncles and brothers and sisters and neighbors and anyone else who tells a boy he can’t play with glitter or a girl can’t have a Stars Wars Thermos. You are all enforcing this idea that gender defines you.
And those boundaries later begin to define children as they grow. We can complain about the gender gap within pay, and we can create meme after meme about “binders full of women.”
But is that the root of the problem?
Education is magical thing. And maybe if we start with how we play, with games our children use, we can change the headlines from featuring the record fact that we have 20 women in the senate to something deeper.
If for no other reason than because we are more than x or y chromosomes.
And if one six year old has the courage and the smarts to write a letter, isn’t time that we all started to do something?
Filed under: Life Lessons | 2 Comments
Tags: education, equality, gamification, gaming, gender, guess who, hasbro, inequality, stereotypes, video games