Gaming industry targets women with 'Project Runway' game

Victoria's Secret supermodel Heidi Klum waves ...

"give me moar money!" says Heidi Image by AFP/Getty Images via Daylife

Last Friday saw the unveiling of Nintendo’s newest game for the Wii console titled “Project Runway”.  The game is a collaborative effort between Nintendo, Atari, The Weinstein Co (producers of the Project Runway TV show) and Tornado Studios. I don’t know whether to be insulted by this development, or pleased, as this game is clearly just for the girls.  It doesn’t help when other media outlets say “This could be the future of gaming for women“. A fashion game based off of a reality show? Please! 40% of gamers are girls, and we were doing just fine before this game came along. If anything, this game ruins our cred as gamers.

First off, I am a little bit offended that this game is about fashion considering this will be “the future of gaming for women”. This game is clearly trying to get new girl gamers, and ignoring the already established gals that game. If any gaming company were to look at the games most popular with females, they would see that we like puzzle games. Just look at the  casual gamers that like internet based games like Text Twist, Bejeweled and Mahjong Tiles, to DS games like Professor Layton. Did anyone in the industry stop to think about why the horror shooting games with puzzles (Tomb Raider series, Resident Evil series, Bioshock series) are more popular with girls than those that do not have puzzles?

Second, I am a little offended that this game is being marketed to 6 – 12 year old girls, and that this game is all about fashion  and models on runways (Super model Heidi Klum is also in the game). Do we really need to make little girls that play video games feel bad about their weight? Do we need to start giving them body image problems when they are 6 years old (if we don’t already)? It is the 21st century…. why are we still boxing our genders? (Down with the system I say, quietly….)

Jonathan Anastas, Atari VP, was quoted telling the press:

“We really believe the core target audience is girls 6-12. Girls are starting to buy their own clothes around 13 and 14 and as they are learning to make their own fashion choices this is a way for them to interact and participate with style.”

via Victoria’s Secret “Angel”, Heidi Klum, to be in Wii game

Third, if I were to be one of those people that would use video games as a scapegoat, I could blame this game, and other games like it, for the vapid consumer society we live in and for the whole American way of living beyond our means.  If I could say that shooting games are responsible for all those school shootings, why wouldn’t a game like this be responsible for Confessions of a Shopaholic and our recession?

Fourth: Think about it. The reality TV show “Project Runway” has drama and suspense. Contestants don’t like each other. The judges are cruel. Does this game have any of the qualities that make a reality series good? No.

As for playing this game, of course I will play it  (will I buy it? No…). For the record, I love games that let you design costumes  or have amazing character customization (and I will admit I spend hours on designing clothes/characters within those games), but for a game that is only about clothes and fashion?  It will get boring and repetitive…. just like any ol’ shooting game.


Albany Park begins initiative to display artwork in vacant storefronts

FONTANA, CA - OCTOBER 8:  A strip mall storefr...

Image by Getty Images via Daylife

Following the success of the Pop-Up Art Loop Program and Edgewater Artists in Motion, I decided to stop by the North River Commission (an umbrella group that also includes the Albany Park Chamber of Commerce) here in Albany Park to see if they were engaging in a similar initiative. As luck would have it,  they were, and in need of volunteers.  I naturally offered to help  (public art is one of my favorite things in life),  and I spent a day walking along Montrose, the proposed site of Albany Park’s future art walk, documenting vacant storefronts.

How has Albany Park faired this recession, you might ask? There are approximately 25 vacant storefronts along Montrose (a 25 block strip), and that number does not include the burned building on Montrose and Monticello that photographers love shooting. If the NRC uses all of the vacant storefronts to display art, the Albany Park art walk will be more extensive than Edgewater’s, and would hopefully drive some much needed traffic on that avenue.  On my walk I saw two empty diners with bored employees just standing around, and one store was boxing up their inventory under a “going out of business” sign.

If you’re interested in helping out with this initiative (or are a local artist that would be interested in displaying their artwork), please contact the North River Commission. UNITE Civic Association is also helping with this project, and go here to read about other neighborhoods in Chicago using vacant storefronts to display art.


Vacant storefronts make great alternative galleries

photo courtesy of Rae Ann Cecrle

Edgewater Artists in Motion, photo courtesy of Rae Ann Cecrle

Both the Reader and TimeOut Chicago have written about the Pop-Up Art Loop Program, where artists display their work in vacant storefronts downtown:

The program is as much about helping landlords rent their property as offering artists places to display their work for free in high-traffic areas. Says Tabing, “This is a temporary response to the retail environment because what we’re advocating is the rental of these spaces.”

via Chicago Reader

Tabing tells us Pop-Up Art Loop came together in less than four months. “The initiative started with our chairman, Lou Raizin, [president of] Broadway in Chicago,” Tabing says. “He had read about these initiatives in other cities, and the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs was looking at this program in other neighborhoods,” so the agency’s director of cultural planning, Julie Burros, offered the CLA advice.

via TimeOut Chicago

This is all fine and good,  but credit should be given where it is due. Both publications fail to mention Edgewater’s Artists in Motion, an initiative that has been doing the very same exact thing for more than 8 months now. Edgewater Artists in Motion is a joint initiative involving the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce, the Edgewater Community Council, and the Edgewater Development Corporation.   Rae Ann Cecrle is the brains behind the initiative,  and started the program last year in an effort to make the “district more vibrant”, saying  “Edgewater has been hit really bad with the recession”. Cecrle says she just came up with the idea after looking at all the vacant storefronts and reading about gallery closings. Currently, 20 artists are displaying their works in approximately 20 vacant storefronts in Edgewater, for a period of 3 months each.

Displaying the artwork in vacant storefronts is no easy task as each storefront needs to be cleaned and  “we have to be careful of the light and moisture levels to protect the art” says Cecrle, and that does require some investment. Cecrle explained that some artists get co-sponsors to cover the costs.  The new building on Granville and Broadway showcases 8 different artists, and Cecrle says “the owner is really happy” with how the storefronts look.

The Edgewater Chamber is throwing a “Holidays Around the World Celebration” today with an art festival showcasing 25 different artists.  Look for a tree lighting ceremony and a holiday concert. More information can be found on their website here.

Rae Ann Cercle sits on the  Board of the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce, The Edgewater Development Corp, The Edgewater Community Council, and is Chairman of the SSA26 in Edgewater.