A few months back, when the press release for Ubisoft's "Imagine" series came out, a girl who worked for me sent me the link, and the two of us had a good scoff over it for awhile. It was definitely worded as distingustingly as possible, the worst possible hybrid of PR spin and gender stereotypes. And of course, to top it all of, I went around reading what other websites had to say, like Kotaku, until I had decided we had just sent the women-in-videogames cause back about fifty years.
So last week in Best Buy I decided I would combat my natural urges, and I bought Imagine: Fashion Designer for an experiment. Working on games, pretty much every game out there has some sort of appeal. I'm starting to mutate from a person who can sit down and enjoy a game into this creature that can only either appreciate what's wrong with a game, or try to dissect how something went right.
The first night I played Imagine: Fashion Designer for about four hours. I can definitely see why someone interested in modeling and fashion (and if the reality trend is any indication, there are probably more than a few of them), but I thought it had limited clothing options and there were some bizarre racial stereotypes in it. In one challenge I was asked to design clothes for a person on a set of a movie called "Love in Africa". You have to pick a hairstyle, an outfit, and color it "appropriately", and though I went straight where they wanted me to (picking a large green, yellow, and red knit hat), I think it's a strange message to send to little girls.
The following days, I discovered that there were actually quite a few clothing choices to unlock, and as I unlocked more and more patterns and shoe options, I felt like they had potentially made a really interesting and appealing game.
And then I got stuck. I mean really stuck... I literally have no idea what to do. And since the game challenges are linear, if you're stuck on one, then there's not much else you can do. I asked a couple people at work if I could borrow their little girls for a few minutes, I was certain than eight-year old would be able to figure it out.
Thankfully it looks like all the little girls are stuck too.
So my take away is this: A little girl or boy interested in fashion would probably love this game. Don't design a game like this that hinges on one level for you to keep playing, if someone gets stuck and puts it down, you'll never get them back. And... when in doubt... check GameFAQS.