Spore and More
While I haven’t seen much in the way of marketing aiming Spore specifically at the child gamer demographic, its makers (including Wright himself) have described the game as purposefully inclusive in terms of the design and difficulty level of gameplay – they wanted to appeal to that larger Wii audience, to appeal to casual gamers, and evidently target gamers of all ages. Of course, the idea of targeting “everyone” is pretty problematic…even though the game may be designed for broad appeal (which in itself raises questions about how “broad appeal” is conceived and configured), its marketing and the surrounding discourses do a lot to position the game within specific target demographics. For example, there are many games designed to appeal to both girls and boys (think of the Super Mario titles), but that are also marketed quite specifically at boys. The idea within kids’ media and marketing remains that girls will “cross-over” and buy products/media portrayed as “for boys” (or “for boys and girls”), but that boys will reject anything that is associated with girls. For years now, this has resulted in a predominance of boys and male characters within children’s media, and the sad fact that unless the product is question is hyper-feminized (think My Little Pony, Bratz or Winx Club), the default user/audience is configured as male. Anyway, all this to say that just because these games might be great for kids and designed with kids (at least partially) in mind, doesn’t mean that they will actually reach kids. Which is too bad, because kids and the kids’ gaming environment could use some innovative, well-designed new entries.
Okay – you should know… there is a LOT more to Sara Grime’s post, so I encourage you to check it out. I haven’t much brain space to think of anything worthwhile to add. Sara is awesome, so again, go check it out.
I will, however, post this:
I was in Chicago for the long weekend (once again, Happy Birthday, PoppaBearusRex). Aside from just gushing about what a great city that is, I have to give props to the Spore folks for their interesting bus stop adverteasing. This was at the bus shelter on Clark & Fullerton (a stones throw from my favorite bar & my old apartment). It’s interesting to see ads for Spore like this, but I have to say… I dig it (made me stop and inspect closer). Marie P (a great friend and marketing She-Ra in Chi) said Spore only has these ads in Chi, NY, and London (shoot, I think she said London? Can’t remember).