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“I wondered if this was a larger problem or just a feature of the games my friends and I play, so I started researching.” – Madeline Messer
“For a 12-year-old girl, playing games on an iPhone is pretty regular behavior,” says Madeline Messer, a 12-year-old girl who recently wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post when she discovered that many of the video games she played on her iPhone charged extra to play as a girl character, if that option was offered at all.
Here is an excerpt from her article:
Almost all of my friends have game apps on their phones, and we’ll spend sleepovers playing side by side. One day I noticed that my friend was playing a game as a boy character and asked why she wasn’t a girl. She said you couldn’t be a girl; a boy character was the only option.
After that, I started to pay attention to other apps my friends and I were playing. I looked at the gender breakdown of the characters in the top 50 apps. Most games only featured a boy avatar. And if girl characters did exist, you were actually required to pay for them.
Madeline says, “These biases affect young girls like me. The lack of girl characters implies that girls are not equal to boys and they don’t deserve characters that look like them.”
“I am a girl; I prefer being a girl in these games.
I do not want to pay to be a girl.” – Madeline Messer
Because of her research, Madeline found that when an app did sell girl characters, it charged on average $7.53, which is a lot in the world of apps. After all, each of the apps she downloaded only cost an average of $0.26. In other words, girl characters cost about 29 times more than the cost of the apps themselves!
BONUS: Here’s the low-down on the latest GIRL character being added to one of the biggest games around: Minecraft!
The popular block-building game Minecraft, which boasts more than 100 million registered users, will finally offer players the choice of a female character—as opposed to the standard male character. The game’s developer Mojang is introducing Alex, a female player with “thinner arms” and red hair pulled back into a ponytail. The caveat: This update is only available to console users on Xbox and PlayStation, which means that iPhone gamers like Madeline won’t be able to play as Alex on their mobile screens.
In her analysis of the top 50 gaming apps listed in iTunes, Messer found that 98 percent of games offered boy characters, while just 46 percent offered girl characters.
4GGL thanks TakePart for this inspiring story!
TakePart is a digital news & lifestyle magazine and social action platform for the conscious consumer — is a division of Participant Media, the company behind important films such as An Inconvenient Truth, Waiting For Superman, Food, Inc., Good Night & Good Luck, Charlie Wilson’s War, Contagion, The Help, and many others.