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Computer Games for Girls ... $6 Billion on the Table

At TED in 1998, Brenda Laurel asks: Why are all the top-selling videogames aimed at little boys? She spent two years researching the world of girls (and shares amazing interviews and photos) to create a game that girls would love.

Ready to open your ideas to girls? There's about $6 billion on the table for game development for the other half of the computer market.

Brenda Laurel researched comfort and ease...look and feel...and then moved on.

Purple Moon

Purple Moon was an American software company based in Mountain View, California, targeted at young girls between the ages of 8 and 14. They debuted their first two games, Rockett's New School and Secret Paths in the Forest, in 1997. The games were largely visual novels and encouraged values like friendship and decision making.

The company faced criticism including charges of sexism (mostly due to their belief that girls would not enjoy the more popular action-oriented games often associated with boys and young men) and ethnic stereotyping.

The company folded in 1999 and merged with Mattel, creators of Barbie, one of the most famous and well-known franchises aimed at young girls.

Where are we today with games that girls enjoy? Has anything changed?

Learn what happened next for Brenda and her gaming. "Since 1999, when Purple Moon ended, can you discern a line from your work to the next generation of games and online worlds? What lessons do you think the industry as a whole learned from your work?"

"It was a hard time, in that Mattel acquired and killed almost every company working in the girl space, with the exception of American Girl, which they acquired and kept alive for a while. But they had put some ungodly amount of money into that effort -- all to protect Barbie -- and by the next year were unable to service any of those brands. Eventually they closed their interactive group and the queen who ate us all up -- Jill Barad -- got ousted as CEO.

"I think that interventions like Purple Moon enhanced girls' comfort with computers, which we set out to do, and brought girls roaring into the online game space -- eventually becoming major players in game worlds like World of Warcraft and, of course, the Sims."


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