11/26/02
Girls Video Games
    by Laurie Taylor

With the shopping season upon us, you may be looking for good gifts that promise great fun. Despite the negative press that it receives, the world of video games nevertheless offers something truly (and positively) entertaining for children, from classic games like "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego," to spinoffs like the "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings" games. But, many of the games can still seem uninviting to those who are unfamiliar with video games, and most expecially to girls. There are social and cultural pressures which often separate girls and video games. And these spoken and unspoken prohibitions may leave girls feeling not only excluded from the pleasures of video games, but also uncomfortable with computers and digital technology as a whole.

Herinteractive has recognized this problem and seeks to correct it by making video games that don't seem like video games. Don't be confused, the games are terrific and have been repeated winners of the Parent's Choice awards for fun and intelligence. But, the games also manage to be inviting to girls, or any new video game players (like many parents), because these adventures in video gamery don't require highly developed eye-hand coordination skills. Instead, these games focus on the players' deductive problem solving abilities, their curiosity, and their capacity for exploration. In one series of these games you play as that famous sleuth Nancy Drew and solve numerous mysteries. In "Stay Tuned for Danger," for example, as Nancy you help TV soap actress Mattie Jensen protect her co-star from an unidentified foe by posing as an extra on the show and finding out who the culprit is. In "The Secret of the Scarlet Hand, " you're Nancy again , this time with a summer internship in a museum, where you end up having to solve a complicated case concerning stolen Mayan artifacts as your investigation takes you following clues inside and outside the museum. Or, for those seeking a bit spookier mystery, there's always "Message in a Haunted Mansion," where you're Nancy visiting a friend to help renovate an old Victorian Home, and having to contend, instead with some uninvited and unwanted guests.

While the major goal of Herinteractive is to create a bridge between girls and video games and computers, it also succeeds at something else: making refreshing and engaging games that will also appeal to those who are already familiar with video games and are looking for a different gameplay experience. Herinteractive's games avoid gender stereotypes, and let everyone get in on the fun. I must confess that I do love those fast paced, twitchy games, but I know that I'll be spending a lot more time with Nancy Drew this season.

Check out their website at: www.herinteractive.com

Copyright 2002 Laurie Taylor

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Monday, 28-Oct-2002 21:04:42 EST


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