With all the press (mostly of the incredulous variety) swirling around Ubisoft's line of DS games for girls (featuring such scintillating titles as Imagine: Babyz and Imagine: Fashion Designer, as Ashcraft mentioned earlier this week), Ian Bogost is here to set the record straight and chastise us all for having short memories and no sense of history (ouch!): the series isn't new, and Babyz was first released in 1999. I think Bogost is being a little disingenuous here - is it any wonder that many of us have no recollection of minor software toys targeted towards adult women released in the mid-to-late 90s (and do interactive desktop pets really count as a 'game'?)? I'll concede that a more complete historiography makes for some more interesting observations:
Petz and Babyz were software toys for adults, not for kids, at least not explicitly. They ran in a process on top of the Windows desktop, and the pets and babies literally moved around in the foreground, as you worked. They were little creatures and characters you could interact with ....
None of these observations change Ubisoft's strange assertion that girls want shopping and childcare, but the history of the titles make other observations possible. For example, Ubisoft is also just recycling old IP rather than reinventing these games from whole cloth.
Bogost says that the brand value has apparently evaporated, necessitating that miserable deliberate misspelling - but how much value did it have in the first place? And does currency with the inching-towards-menopause market in the 90s really have any impact on how well it does with tweens and teens in 2007 and beyond?
Imagine Game History [Water Cooler Games]