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Boys, girls, marketing, etc - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
Boys, girls, marketing, etc
Well, last night, I just got a little huffy and posted my SW fic just because yes, there are female SW fans. Lots of us.

But let's look at the question, actually--the guy is trying to market video games made for girls or something, and he's trying to figure out "what will appeal to girls."

I'm in a position where I can observe girls and boys in their reading and gaming practices, and honestly, it's the boys who are a lot harder to please. Girls will quite literally try anything, bookwise or movie-wise. Oh, some girls don't like x, while others don't like y, but there's nothing out there that I've encountered that girls in general would bother to hide a liking for. They read horror, fantasy, science fiction, series books, you name it.

But once the girls have "colonized," the boys move out (except in actual science fiction, and Harry Potter). And meanwhile, there are classes of books that, even if boys might like them, they won't carry around openly.

So, in terms of marketing to girls, forget looking for a magic formula. Just make a good game or write a good book, and it will find the female half of its audience, as long as it's not marketed too heavily as "for boys." The real question is how to get the boys to stay put when the girls move in, in some way other than, "Whoa, it's a real live girl, let's hit on it!" which will cause no one at all to have fun.
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From: (Anonymous) Date: August 22nd, 2006 03:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
So, what do boys read?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 22nd, 2006 03:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Getting them to read anything is often like pulling teeth, because reading itself has come to be seen as a "girl thing." Darren Shan is pretty popular, and HP is universal. The plain old SF fans (and SW fans) are relatively evenly mixed. A reluctant reader (boy) that I know recently got hooked on Stephen King. Nonfic on the whole is about even. It's weird, but here, we can't get anyone to take out the "boy" comic books, which are supposed to be the big boy-slanted thing--they just sit on the shelf and do nothing; it's all manga, and that's definitely majority female readership (though I haven't done a survey to find out how big the majority is).
matril From: matril Date: August 22nd, 2006 03:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hate the idea that boys are the default demographic that gets targeted without really trying, while girls need a particular, special attention. Like they're bizarre aliens with a complicated code to be cracked. :P I suppose that goes for any kind of advertising that treats particular groups like aliens. Or that treats people as categorizable groups at all. You never know for sure who's going to like what. Of course, that idea undermines the basis of a lot of marketing theories. ;)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 22nd, 2006 03:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yeah. After years of people trying to crack the girl code and minority code, what sweeps girldom? Harry Potter, a story about a character who happens to be a white, middle-class boy. It appeals across all the groups because, duh, it's a good story.
matril From: matril Date: August 22nd, 2006 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
And on the other hand, when something in a particular genre completely tanks, there's always idiots who say, "Oh, then, people aren't looking for anything in that genre right now" instead of realizing it was just really bad quality. Whatever the subject of a piece, people want something to be done well. But you can't measure quality in absolute terms, so they ignore it.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: August 22nd, 2006 03:31 pm (UTC) (Link)
I suppose you've heard the story that Rowling was persuaded to use the name 'JK Rowling' on Harry Potter because 'boys don't read books written by women'?

It's perhaps heartening that, despite the German publisher's decision to put 'Joanne K. Rowling' on the covers, the books still get read by boys. But I don't know that that gets us any further.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 22nd, 2006 03:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't know about the author thing, but it is unfortunately true that a lot of boys won't read books about girls unless forced to, while girls happily read about boys without any indigestion.

I believe this is a failure in the rearing of boys, but a real plus in the rearing of girls (which is lost in this rush to tailor things to them so that everything they read is about girls--it's a strength, not a weakness, that they are able to imagine themselves as other! And a weakness, not a strength, that too many boys are unable to make that leap.)
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: August 22nd, 2006 04:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's true, although ideally one has good stries about both self and other (and, of course, sex may not be the biggest source of 'otherness')
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 22nd, 2006 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
BTW, I just got a line on the female author name thing; Dianna Wynne Jones and Diane Duane are now definitely on the boy-interest list!
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: August 22nd, 2006 04:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 22nd, 2006 09:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Emily Rodda's "Deltora Quest" books are very popular with boys in the 8-12 age range here. She's an Australian writer so I don't know how well-known she is anywhere else. They're not Australian stories so there's no reason, other than promotional ones, that she shouldn't be read overseas.

I always thought that "Harriet Potter and the . . . " wouldn't have been read by boys, how ever good the books were.

My husband is a prolific reader of fiction (acclaimed literary fiction at that) but even he won't bother looking at anything by a woman, except for Jeanette Winterson and he says that's only because she's a lesbian. I can't get him to change his mind on this one despite my having several books by women I know he'd like if only he tried. Oh well, his loss!

singingtopsy From: singingtopsy Date: August 22nd, 2006 08:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
What I find ridiculous about the German publisher's decision is that they included the "K." Joanne Rowling doesn't actually have a middle name! They made her acquire one so they could do the JK thing.
keestone From: keestone Date: August 22nd, 2006 03:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Right. So they're not dolls, they're action figures. Because dolls are for girls.

Now I'm really curious as to what got you a little huffy in the first place.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 22nd, 2006 03:39 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, it was just this article, reported on clairvoyantwank, which mostly didn't interest me, but which casually included the quote from a game-maker that, "Just boys saw Star Wars multiple times." (As opposed to Titanic, because women saw it many times, and therefore it should be used as a model. Or something.)
keestone From: keestone Date: August 22nd, 2006 03:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Right. I'm laughing. The person who saw Titanic the more times than anyone else I knew was an eleven year old boy. (I'm sure it had nothing at all to do with titties. *snerk*)
From: (Anonymous) Date: August 22nd, 2006 11:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
I remember the boob scene now. And I remember feeling incredibly awkward because I was watching that movie with my whole family.
matril From: matril Date: August 22nd, 2006 04:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
:Raises hand: I saw Episode I ten times in the theater, and thirty times total before I lost count. And I am most decidedly female. (Saw Titanic once and then tried to expunge the glurge-filled piece of dreck from my memory).
keestone From: keestone Date: August 22nd, 2006 04:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
Me too. I'm pretty much an original trilogy purist, and I still saw Episode I four times in the theater. I got dragged along to see Titanic and sent around a lot of "Star Wars vs. Titanic" emails after spitting vitriol about the way Commander Lightoller was treated as a character.
tree_and_leaf From: tree_and_leaf Date: August 22nd, 2006 04:35 pm (UTC) (Link)
And as for what they alleged about Mr Murdoch....
ladyelaine From: ladyelaine Date: August 22nd, 2006 05:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
My favorite video games are shooter games. I like Battlefront and Republic Commando better than Knights of the Old Republic. It irks me that game producers somehow think that if you're XX, you won't like shooting things.
siegeofangels From: siegeofangels Date: August 22nd, 2006 11:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
I almost threw a tantrum in the movie theater when I saw the trailer for the My Friend Flicka movie: they've changed the main character from a boy to a girl.

The only reason I could think of was that someone thought it would appeal to girls more. Guess I shouldn't tell them that I'm a girl and I loved Flicka. AND the Black Stallion books.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 23rd, 2006 02:57 am (UTC) (Link)

If they ever start making movies about Alexandra Ramsey and the Black Mare, my head may explode.
durayan From: durayan Date: August 23rd, 2006 12:53 am (UTC) (Link)
That whole thing with boys moving out when girls move in is ingrained early, in subtle ways. Any self-respecting boy cannot as a matter of socialization dwell willingly in girl territory. My nephews, 6 and 8, would sooner walk 10 miles than be seen riding a pink bike. How many girls do you know would be put off by the mere color of an object?
matril From: matril Date: August 23rd, 2006 01:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Interestingly (and sadly, I think) the male gender is defined largely by negatives: they don't wear pink, they don't show too much emotion, they don't cry; in short, they don't do things women do. Whereas the female side is mostly delineated in positives. And a male can get "kicked out" of his gender by supposedly acting too much like a female (getting called a girl is one of the worst insults a boy can receive from his peers). How often is a girl accused of being a boy?

Sorry, this a favorite ranting topic of mine. ;)
aeterna13 From: aeterna13 Date: August 23rd, 2006 12:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
How often is a gril accused of being a boy?

Hmmm ... Joan of Arc?

In all seriousness, though, I think this mentality in women is a backlash from a long history of hearing "femininity is inferior, and oh yeah, if you act like a man, you're an abomination." I think that the traditional female persona is becoming more and more taboo among women as well as men. Nobody wants to be a "housewife" or a "stay-at-home mom" anymore, because the role that men play is supposedly so much more exciting and fulfilling. Of course, then who raises our children? The media.

And I'm not saying it's necessarily the women who need to do this. Why can't there be more "househusbands" and "stay-at-home dads"? Perhaps there are men who would want to take on these roles, but wouldn't want to be accused of being feminine?
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 23rd, 2006 02:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
It's an astute point. I'd think that proper feminism would be freeing to men as well, making it possible for them to be whatever they want. And honestly, I think the totally disconnected dad is a thing of the past (and only a brief, aberrant period of the past)--while I don't know many dads who stay home from work, I know a few who wish they could afford to (so do their wives) and none who refuse to do diaper duty. The toughest, most old-fashioned guy-guy I know splits diaper duty with his wife, talks to his very small kids openly (even about the fact that he cried a lot when his dog died!), and says his kids make everything worthwhile. Being a good, involved dad is definitely more supported now.

But it's not supported for anyone to stay home and raise kids, unless he or she can say, "Well, I'm running a business from home, you see." (Though I did know a man, as far back as the seventies, who left his corporate job and started his own business at home so he could spend more time with his sons, and if business took him away for more than a week, he'd take them out of school and make it a family trip. Both of those boys are fathers now, and extremely devoted, one looking forward to bringing his son out on his job.)
matril From: matril Date: August 23rd, 2006 03:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
Yes, it seems to be a very reactionary phenomenon. After all those centuries of being told they couldn't do what men could do, women are making a point of showing they're perfectly capable of entering the traditionally male sphere. Unfortunately, they're still buying into a largely masculine view that the traditionally female sphere is inferior, less important, and negligible. Erm...the children aren't going to raise themselves, you know. And if you ask me, it's a darn important job.
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: August 23rd, 2006 02:20 pm (UTC) (Link)
Reaching back to the dim days of college psych, I think the reason offered is that as children, boys and girls are both primarily raised by mothers, and girls see themselves as "like," and don't really start defining negatively until their adolescence, while boys, in order to become boys, define themselves against the other in the house. Of course, data is unavailable on male-headed households, but I don't recall reading stories about single-father households (widowers raising their kids or whatever) where the girls suddenly started defining themselves negatively and the boys had a more positive outlook.
matril From: matril Date: August 23rd, 2006 04:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
The ratio of single mom households to single dad households is so skewed, it's difficult to make a comparison. I know that my husband, while certainly suffering from his parents' divorce, was able to grow up very sensitive and willing to unabashedly show his emotions thanks to being almost solely brought up by his mother. Everyone reacts differently, of course.
lazypadawan From: lazypadawan Date: August 23rd, 2006 02:24 am (UTC) (Link)
Female SW fans? Who's ever heard of 'em ;)?
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