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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.
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.)
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!
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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.)
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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. ;)
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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