One of my Facebook friends who has been following my reviews of children’s entertainment suggested that I check out the game Disney City Girl. Apparently, it had been featured on SNL to a scathing reception (pictured left). I had recently been watching a series on video games for girls and had seen just how shallow and pointless these trumped up dress up games could get. So I was ready. It was ON.
This game, however, is more like The Sims than anything else. The storyline is that you’re from a small town, you went to college, then decided to get out of your small town and into the big city, so you move to New York. Conveniently, all of your friends happened to have moved there too.
You’re supposed to find a job, fix up your apartment, make friends and buy new clothes as you navigate NYC. I played for about fifteen minutes. This was until I had to assemble furniture, which my character is apparently so useless that she has to have three people help her to assemble a simple dresser. Anyway, I have no friends who play this game and I’m not looking to make friends who play this game.
Just like countless social games before me, I had no interest in bombarding my friend’s list with requests and invites and waiting around for someone to finally give me a hand. Personally, I play video games to get away from people. The last thing I want to do is have to count on them to move on the game. Maybe it’s just me.
Over all, there’s not much to say about the game play. As I said before, it’s very similar to The Sims and I fucking loved The Sims and Sims 2. I haven’t had a chance to play Sims 3 yet, but based on how much of my life was spent playing Sims 2, that’s probably a good thing.
But where it departs from The Sims is its need to cram fashion into every orifice of the game. The job options are pretty standard for a girl game. They are fashion designer, chef, musician, author and UL engineer. Wait, what?! Engineer?!
I immediately clicked on that one even though I am more of an author type of girl myself. Even if I couldn’t get paid for that in real life, it would be awesome to be one on a game. But I was intrigued.
I clicked on the UL Engineer option and was quick to discover that this engineering job is all about fashion. You’re designing eco friendly clothes or some bullshit like that. I had to roll my eyes. In one step, City Girl takes you out of the pink furry box of girl-ness and then slams you back into it without a second thought. Girls can design things other than clothes and handbags. Believe it or not.
Other parts of the game include dressing appropriately for work and buying clothes that rate high in fashion points. This is where the gameplay starts revolving around clothes and makes it more important than actual actions. Who cares if a white top garners you more points than a black one? How is that relevant to anything and how is that fun?
In addition to earning points and gold and a bunch of other shit, you can also buy these commodities for real money. Because gamemakers have figured out how to turn a one-time fee for purchasing a game into an unending, unmeasurable scale of profit. When I first started playing games like this, I decided to spend a little money here or there. After all, the game was free, so why not give back for enjoying myself so much?
Bad idea. There’s always something new to spend money on. Always. That’s how the gamemakers keep their pockets lined with money and their noses lined with cocaine. But this isn’t new or anything unique to the City Girl game, so while it’s a shrewd way to get the dollars of pre-teen girls, it’s not something that other games haven’t been doing for ages.
Over all, I found the game to be uninteresting and uninspired. When I reached the point where I had to build a dresser with friends, I just stopped playing and haven’t wanted to play it again. While The Sims opened up a make believe world for you to play in and explore with careers and places and even mythological creatures, City Girl offers you to play a part in your own teen girl movie filled with boys, makeup, lip gloss, and shopping. All things I really couldn’t care less about.
While it’s fine if there are some games that exist around these ideals, why do all of the games make specifically for girls (keep in mind that The Sims was not) have to revolve around dressing things up and going shopping? Why can’t girls save the world, build things, invent things, or even just not spend all of their time talking on the phone? Girls need to know that there’s more to the world than the dressing rooms in malls and the line at Starbucks.