Top "Geek Girl"-Friendly Rules!

Do you want to get your girlfriend or wife into technology, but you’re afraid she’s too feeble minded to be able to appreciate your magnanimous gift? Have you run out of gift guides to scour, but still need a gift for the girl “geek” in your life? Well, fear not, friend! You’ve come to the right place. This list will give you the skills that you need to decide what pieces of technology are and are not appropriate for the little women in your life!

  1. Easy is Key!
  2. Although they may appear to be adult-sized, a real man knows that women have the mental capacity of a child. With that in mind, you don’t want to get them confusing technologies where they have to use more than one or two buttons.

    There are some exceptions to this rule. For instance, console controllers come these days with many buttons, which can be intimidating to your delicate flower. Most consoles have “female friendly” games that utilize a minority of the buttons. Those are best, especially when coupled with simplistic “point and click” style gameplay that doesn’t require thought.

  3. It’s a Cutsey-wootsy Widdle Toy
  4. It’s a well-known fact that all women have the “cute” gene. They melt like butter whenever a picture of a puppy is shown to them, and plaster their rooms with posters of baby animals. This is because they have the sole responsibility of raising the children for their men. Use their biology to your advantage! If you see a game that features animals, or an MP3 player that is described as “cute”, then it may just be the gift you’re looking for.

  5. Oooh, Pretty Colours!
  6. When in doubt, look for something colourful. Preferably in pastels, but for a younger woman neon colours are all the rage. Bright colours soothe the feminine mind and can go a long way to making technology less scary. Pink, especially, is a colour to look for because it is instrinsically feminine and will trigger comforting thoughts about being back in the cradle with their mother cooing happily at them.

  7. Encourage her Chatter
  8. Women love to talk. And talk. And talk. And talk. So bring out her inner socialite and get her a gift that allows her to indulge in her chit-chat (preferably when you’re not around)! Cell phones are increasingly gal-friendly, or you can get her hooked on online games (all women love puzzle games; it has something to do with snakes and evolution).

  9. Stop Being a Fatty, Fat, Fat, Fatty!
  10. Tired of your cupcake being the size of one? Fear not, technology has made it so that your tech-savvy woman can be as slim as a super model! Pick from one of the many weight loss appliances, or go the video game route and buy her DDR plus a game pad. You can be the first man on the block to prove your virility by showing off the newer, better, more svelte version of your wife/girlfriend.

  11. Accessorize to Feminize
  12. If there’s one thing women love, it’s shopping for purses and other accessories! So, when in doubt, go for an item to spruce up her boring old toys. Does she have one of those dull black laptops? Buy her a pretty little case for it. A case for her iPod, or a new skin for it is a great idea, too. For even more brownie points, make sure the case models are named after women. If you bought a console for her (you brave, brave man!), you can even buy skins for those! And you can even buy games like Final Fantasy X-2 that involve collecting new outfits. She might not be able to play them herself, but watching you unlock new outfits will give her hours of fun.

If you follow these simple rules, you’re guaranteed to pick a gift this year for your sweetie that she wouldn’t dare dislike.

Last Updated: January 02, 2006.

Build, Order, Whine [My Voodoo, Part 1]

So, I ordered myself a Voodoo laptop today. After a frustrating website experience, I decided to write up a series on how my Voodoo weathers the next few years. Seeing as I just ordered it, and therefore cannot write about the machine itself, I decided to make this an introduction/rant about the website.

As soon as I get it (which, given that I’m going to be in Miami for the next two months, better be a month after it arrives), I’m going to write a First Impressions post on it, and then I’ll update things whenever a new problem crops up. Because you know problems are gonna come up.

I. Why Voodoo?

Ringing in at a whopping 4186.96 USD, my Voodoo Envy 732 qualifies as the most expensive computer I’ve ever bought. It’s a few hundred dollars shy of being more expensive than my current desktop (hand built, mid-line for its time) and laptop (light weight, best bang for buck) combined. I knew there was a reason why I never told Dad what I wanted for a birthday present last July. Happy birthday to me. If I didn’t have to rely on it for my computing and gaming needs for the next 3-5 years, there’s no way I would have spent that much, so the darn thing better be worth it.

Let me give some of a back story: I had known I needed a new laptop to be my desktop replacement when I go to Japan in April for over a year, but I had decided to put it off until the last possible moment so as to get the best hardware I could. I was still annoyed about what happened with my Toshiba laptop – three months after I bought mine my sister got the same model with significantly better hardware. Although her software is even more screwy than mine, which has caused a bunch of problems for her.

I chose Voodoo not because I think that they’re the bestest laptop makers ever, but because my research didn’t turn up any major problems (except that they’re spotty with customer service, which I tend not to make use of anyway) and because I know from experience that whatever laptop I get will have problems that no one on the internet seemed to talk about. Like Toshiba with their massive overheating problems (mine is small, so it’s not terrible, but the larger model that my cousin and friend have get really hot really fast) and their odd software problems (both my and my sister have issues with our internet connections that have no discernible reason that I can find).

I also chose the company, I admit, because I liked the idea of having a decent degree of customization that they offered. My laptop style probably won’t be the only one like it in the world, but my guess is that it’ll be the only one like it at my school. And that’s cool. What’s not cool, however, is gendered designs.

Yes, you heard me, there are “boy” styles (read: tribal) and “girl” styles (read: animals). To their credit, the cost is the same for both. Some people may think it’s cool to do things this way, but I find it 1) annoying and 2) limiting. Annoying because what if a guy wanted the Phoenix design? I know some guys who would avoid it simply because it was labelled as a “girl” design, even if they liked it. Even if the phoenix had a special meaning to them. Limiting because breaking it into descriptive sections would make it easier to branch out into several other kinds of designs. I’d like to see celtic, or logos, etc. I ended up going with the Wheel of Time because I didn’t like any of the other tribals and I liked it better than the Phoenix animal.

They don’t gender their colours, which I like. I ended up with pink because it was the only colour I really liked. The red wasn’t awful, but it just didn’t look right for some reason. The green was a nasty shade. They call it “monza OLIVE” but it’s more of a forest olive. And an unattractive one at that. My ideal colour would have been a lime green, like my car. Oh well.

II. Have You People Even Heard of W3C?

Now, I had enlisted my mother’s partner as my sounding board for the purchase because something as significant as my only computer for the next 3-5 years of my life is not a purchase to make alone. He knows pretty much what I do about the hardware (which was not much about the specific devices, but a decent amount of the companies involved) and, aside from a fateful Gateway purchase back in the 90s, he has been pretty sensible about what computer he buys. My mom relies on him to do the initial footwork because she’s too lazy – I mean “busy” – to look stuff up on her own.

I went to the website and logged into my account. It was loading a lot slower on this connection than it had for me when I had been on my laptop in Vancouver, which was an annoyance but not necessarily the fault of Voodoo. I went to the laptop page and the first thing he said was that he wanted to see a comparison of the Middleweights (the style of laptop I wanted). Yeah, me too, buddy, me too.

There is no option to do a one-click comparison of all laptops in a given section. We tried clicking on a link called ‘See The Difference’ and the header picture, which was apparently Flash, went blank. Loading it in IE produced a Flash menu about their company, almost exactly the same as the navigation at the top of the page. Thanks, Voodoo. Thanks. I just love it when companies 1) don’t program for multiple browsers, and 2) abuse Flash, javascript, or any other potentially bandwith intensive goodies. Goodies should be used sparingly and with purpose, not for things that can be done better with straight up HTML.

So, then we were like, “Ok, there’s a little button named ‘Technical’ that might have it.” I clicked it. A blank javascript window appeared on the page, obscuring the description of the computer model, and Firefox went into its “Loading” animation and……………………………….did nothing for like a minute. At this point my mom’s partner was like, “Are you sure you want to buy from these people?” He was annoyed, rightly, that their website was a slow loading, Flash & JS intensive, obtuse POS. Me, too, but I just wanted my damn computer at this point and I didn’t want to go through the hassle of researching other sites and dealing with their BS, etc.

Eventually I got fed up, clicked the back button, then the forward button, then tried the Technical button again and it worked. Thankfully. So, yes, indeed there was a comparison chart that we then clicked.

A javascript window popped up. I’d just like to take the time to say just how much I hate pop up windows. I specifically have Firefox open them in new tabs because I hate them so much. Except that javascript doesn’t work that way. So much hatred. But, my annoyance aside, the window let us compare the Middleweights against the Heavyweights and I confirmed in my mind that yes, the Middleweights are for me. Most of the Heavyweights didn’t have as good of a video card as my 732, which is one of the biggest bottlenecks for gaming. My poor little Toshiba has like 32 megs at most. Maybe less. My 732 has a NVIDIA GeForce Go 7800 GTX GTX 256MB. Mm, tasty.

Fast forward through talking about pros and cons of weight, performance, battery, etc. I finally went to the build page and did a couple of upgrades: I got 2 GIGs of RAM instead of 1, a Seagate 100 gig 5400 instead of a Hitachi 60 gig 7200, an Intel M 750 instead of 740, and got MS Office Small Business Ed. I read through their TOS as specified, and got slightly annoyed that they referenced an Online Privacy Policy that was not defined anywhere, but not annoyed enough to wait until they open tomorrow to call and complain. Oh, just looked at a sheet I printed out. Apparently there was a link at the bottom of the previous page to it. Not that a Google search turned it up. Argh. Anyway, after another eternity of waiting for things to load, I finished placing my order.

III. My Journey Has Just Begun

“Your customized Voodoopc Machine has a 30 day ETA,” they say. We’ll see, Voodoo. We’ll see.

Games Even Your Girlfriend Can Play!

GGA brought my attention to an article called Top Ten Girlfriend-Friendly Games on (a site that seems to have a significant female membership). Marginalization in the gaming industry is nothing new to me. I mean, having boobs and a vagina and identifying as female is obviously enough to exclude me from that Good Ol’ Boys Club™. If I do venture in, it must only be through a boyfriend (since all good boys and girls are heterosexual) who will introduce me to fluffy games, like Bejeweled and Nintendogs, which are not too hardcore for my weak constitution. Do I sound bitter? Well, after spending most of my twenty-two years seeing mainstream magazines, websites, and other gaming publications catering to guys, and only guys, I think I’ve earned a bit of bitterness. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for me to not have to go to a female-oriented gaming site in order to be included.

Oh, to be fair, sandwiched between the large fonts of the title and the first of the top 10 is this disclaimer:

These days, gamers come in both genders — yet our numbers are few, and like the cavemen of days past we must seek outside of the clan to mate. Yet it is possible to bring non-gaming significant others over to the dark side, through a number of games designed to grab those who couldn’t care less how many frags you got in Counter-Strike last week. We present to you the top ten girlfriend-friendly games. (These can apply to boyfriends as well, since the love of gaming knows no gender boundaries.)

But, truth be told, I didn’t even notice that until I actually wanted to dissect the post. Why? I’m versed enough in layout design to know that our eyes are drawn to big, bright, different objects. The title and the top ten are large, much larger than the descriptive text. Not only that, but the main text is a light grey that is visible but visually blends into the page when put next to the dark black of the title, the vivid blue of the top number, and the bright red of the game title. So, yeah, gender neutral language is applied as a disclaimer/afterthought, but it does not make the kind of impact the title does.

I’m versed enough in layout design to know that our eyes are drawn to big, bright, different objects.

When making “top ten” lists, there is going to be a large element of personal choice and opinion. If I were to make a list of good introductory games for non-gamers, I would choose some similar ones and some different ones. Here again, however, the article engages in some gender assumptions:

#9, Centipede:

It wasn’t until Centipede, with its soft pastels and calming garden theme, that the arcades finally had a game you could bring a date to.

If this was a “Top Ten Boyfriend-Friendly Games,” do you really think that “soft pastels” and “calming garden theme” would be bandied about? Instead of Centipede, I expect it would have been a Space Invaders game. Because, you know, girls like pretty gardens and boys like to shoot things.

#6, Suikoden:

Combining the feel of an epic romantic fantasy with an easy-to-learn interface, Suikoden made RPGs accessible to girls who weren’t otherwise interested in the tedium of roleplaying games in the vein of Dragon Warrior.

You know, I found Suikoden-style controls to be more complicated than all of the Dragon Warrior games (and, believe me, I’ve played them all), although it could be that the first Suikoden was simpler than its two sequels. Regardless, I wonder if the blurb would be the same if pitching it to guys, even non-gamer guys? It’s no surprise that buzzwords like “romantic fantasy” and “easy-to-learn” are used in contrast with a “manly” title such as Dragon Warrior that girls just wouldn’t be interested in. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard those kind of excuses for why more girls aren’t gamers, I would be a rich woman.

#5, Ms. Pac-Man:

But for those gamers who developed lives outside of the musty confines of the arcade, Ms. Pac-Man proved a great boon, for it showed their girlfriends that gaming could be non-violent, cute, and utterly fun.

Oh, yes, us little “girlfriends” can only handle something that’s “non-violent, cute, and utterly fun.” Although I’m not so sure that eating and possibly being killed by ghosts qualifies as “non-violent,” but regardless the idea that games need to fit into the proper gender roles in order to interest girls is offensive if not outright sexist. What next, Pre-Teen Girlfriend Top Ten with the top game being Barbie Makeover?

#3, Katamari Damacy:

Incredibly simple game play with incredibly catchy music coupled with a laughable storyline and beautiful pastel graphics created a game which was both fun to watch and to play.

Again, we have the idea of “simple game play” and “pastel graphics” that was seen above.

#2, Dance Dance Revolution:

In Japan, DDR was designed as a game for women, with catchy pop songs, bright colors, cute artwork, and a fitness angle thrown in for good measure. And once she learns that you aren’t nearly as good as she thought, the game is on. The relative ease with which someone can learn DDR and the versus mode mean that a gamer couple can play together at their own levels of skill.

I can’t fault the author for the purported sexism of the DDR designers, but sticking it in the blurb does continue to reinforce that women need games that fit into strict gender roles: bright/cute things and that we need to work out to be thin. Once again, we have the whole “easy learning” angle. Speaking as a recovering DDR addict, though, I disagree with the author. If one has a decent sense of rhythm to begin with then yeah, it’s easy, but if not… Well, be thankful that you’ve never seen people screw up horribly on the basic steps to the same song over, and over, and over again.

#1, The Sims:

The infinite customizability, the large community, and the simplistic gameplay all combine to make The Sims into the greatest girlfriend game around.

Last, but unfortunately not least, we have that whole “simplistic gameplay” argument rearing its ugly head yet again. Frankly, I’m not so sure I would rate it the greatest game for an SO, girlfriend or otherwise, simply because there are no goals, quests, or storylines. I like playing God for a week, but then it gets old fast. Some people, female/male gamers/non-gamers, like it, some don’t.

GGA linked to a rebuttal in his LJ about criticism, where he harped about Girl Gamers being a different breed, how their critiques ignored how hard it was for new blood to find games they enjoy, etc. Normally I try to avoid that kind of wank, but I felt compelled to reply to this one.

My beef with your article was that, as some posters pointed out above, you were playing on the tired old stereotype of “girls don’t play games, so here are some fluffy ones that your girl might like!” Now, there’s nothing wrong with fluffy games (some of the ones on the list are ones I’ve enjoyed in the past), but there is something wrong with the heterosexist, male-normative bent of your article. Frankly, I’ve seen too many “Games you can play with your girlfriend!” that are aimed at guys and I’ve never seen “Games you can play with your boyfriend!” or “Games you can play with your SO!” And, really, there wasn’t one game on that list of yours that couldn’t be applied to either sex.

My feature (as paltry as it was) was about non-gamers.

You said that in your post, but why didn’t you call your list “Top 10 Games To Play with Your Non-Gamer SO” or something to that effect? Why did you feel the need to play on that old, tired, “girlfriend” stereotype? It’s not offensive only to girl gamers because we’re “l33t h4rdc0r3 playaz” or whatever, but because, you know, we can have SO’s who are non-gamers too.

It may seem like a little, stupid point to harp on, but it’s not just the big things that make an impact. By playing into the stereotype all you’re doing is perpetuating the idea that guys are the only gamers that matter.

Even giving the author the benefit of the doubt that he wasn’t intentionally capitalizing on the gender stereotyping language that has kept the image of video games as a Boy’s Club, it still speaks volumes about how easily such terminology can be used to marginalize the female experience. Sure, there are some terms that would be reasonable to apply to non-gamers/casual gamers as a whole, such as games with interfaces that are fun but not so complex that they’ll turn off those without prior experience, are not used with a gender neutral tone, but when used in the context of “girls” and “girlfriends” they play on existing stereotypes about women. Yes, the usage of language in these cases is a relatively small issue. However, because it is so small, it is also easy to fix: be aware of your audience and your language.

Via Game Girl Advance