Xbox is finally embracing its feminine side


I’ve never been your typical girly girl. At 5, I quit ballet to be the only girl on the local soccer team, didn’t really like dolls other than Barbie Moto, and never really understood the art of makeup. It’s hard to say if this is all just because I’m a rabid homosexual or because I turned to male-dominated hobbies where the only women who were included “weren’t like the other girls. and were “one of the boys”. .

Femininity has long been considered a weakness in Western culture. “Don’t be a girl like that” and “you cry like a girl” are some of the worst insults you can throw at a macho man, like there’s some virtue in suppressing your feelings until they burst violently.

Gaming has long been one of the worst spaces for this (after organized sports). I’ve been playing video games for over 25 years and writing about them professionally for nearly 15 years, and it’s fascinating to watch sexism in the industry come and go, even though 46% of gamers are female. . There’s the nasty, overt stuff, like GamerGate, and the alleged horrendous treatment of women working at Activision Blizzard and other studios. Then there are the more subtle things, like the Guardians trying to redefine what a “gamer” is to exclude anyone who doesn’t obsessively play Call of Duty, YouTubers telling me women don’t game not to games because most of their channel’s viewers are male, and the E3 developer who told the all-male journalist team to “take it easy against the girls” in a racing game . (For the record, we destroyed those guys who thankfully chose not to spare us.)

So, I was really encouraged to see Sony and Microsoft introduce more female accessories and collaborations this year, without infantilizing female gamers. Usually, when a company tries to make a plaything for women, they make it hot pink and put cat ears on it, and then market it as a toy for kids.

The prettiest PlayStation 5 bisexual flag I’ve ever seen (and also red and black). (Picture: Sony)

Earlier this year, Sony introduced three new PlayStation 5 controllers in hot pink, dark purple and pastel blue, with a marketing campaign focused on how they looked good rather than how they looked for girls. Pink isn’t really a girl’s color, it’s for everyone, but it’s also a color that gets a lot of misplaced hate because of its closeness to femininity.

This week, Microsoft and Xbox stepped up the anti by locally launching a line of nail polishes in partnership with legendary nail polish brand OPI. What I love about this collaboration is that they didn’t just tie it to a kids game, or just games with female protagonists, but to the car racing game Forza Horizon 5 and the Halo first person shooter series. Not only are the nail polishes named after aspects of the games, but they also come with codes so you can get a car or armor that matches your nails. She’s decidedly feminine, while not being annexed to the girly baby table.

A shimmering purple Masterchief armor
Master Chief is now a sparkly princess and I long for my nails to match. (Picture: Microsoft)

These steps are small and they alone won’t solve problems within the industry, but anything that signals that more people are welcome to play and that being “like the other girls” is a good thing, because the girls are great and we have to stop forgetting that. Sure, this is just another cynical money-making marketing ploy, but it’s a cynical money-making marketing ploy on a forgotten audience.

Now that this door has been opened, what happens next? Game products in women’s sizes that actually fit a range of women and other breast owners? A Gran Turismo 7 eyeshadow palette? A code for free badass bloodstained DLC armor with a pack of U by Kotex sanitary napkins? I am here without irony and with a lot of fervor for all these future collaborations.

Phil Spencer, Head of Games at Xbox, is right when he says “when everyone plays, we all win”, because all storytelling and entertainment mediums improve when more voices are heard.


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