Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Computer and Mobile games show school tribes

Bratz [those dolls] now have a computer game in which they solve all the high school divisions... the game is not very good apparently. Sounds like stereotype city.

Bratz 4 Real - Review

December 3, 2007 - High school. Four years of homework and hall passes, four years of teachers and friends. And four years of the same friends, too, as you're doomed to fall into the trap of joining a tight, exclusive clique and never being able to socialize with anyone outside of that small circle. That's what Bratz 4 Real asserts, as it sets up a story of four fashion-crazed friends who band together to eliminate their high school's clique system, and encourage all different kinds of students to start interacting with one another. It's an interesting premise, one that shows more promise than the storyline used in past Bratz-brand titles. But while the theme of this adventure works pretty well, its execution ends up being pretty shallow.

It's a constant string of short conversations. As you control one of the four Bratz friends, you run around their high school, the local mall and an adjacent park talking to non-player characters, then talking to more non-player characters, then going back to the first character ... and so on and so forth. The plan the Bratz have concocted involves bridging the gap between different social groups, none of which is comfortable with talking to any other. So your character is constantly serving as the messenger, moving from the nerds to the jocks, from the punks to the goths, from the populars to the preppies and every other combination in-between.

It's interesting from a plot perspective. You see the popular girl in charge of costumes for the school play reach out to a punk chick with clothing design experience for help. You see a preppy who loves to proofread manuscripts assisting a nerd with his latest anime fanfiction. You see bright, cheerful cheerleaders come together with drab, gothic girls and find common ground, and it's all very heartwarming to see....

Meanwhile in Australia:

Aussie game creator blasts sex critics | NEWS.com.au

Coolest Girl In School / Supplied

Screenshots ... scenes from the game Coolest Girl In School / Supplied

AN independent Adelaide game developer has hit back at claims her upcoming mobile phone game encourages teen pregnancy and drug use. Coolest Girl In School, a role-playing game designed for mobiles, recently gained international notoriety after the Australian Family Association blasted it for being "grossly irresponsible".

The game's creator Holly Owen was "surprised" by the attack, but has revealed that none of the game's critics speak from experience. "We were really surprised at the lengths people went to condemn the game when no-one has actually played it yet," said Ms Owen, creative director of Champagne For The Ladies.

"I believe it was even accused of causing pregnancy, which I find hilarious," she said. "Someone hadn't had enough sex education to realise that you can't get pregnant from a mobile phone."

Coolest Girl In School is based around a high-school theme that, according to Ms Owen, justifies the controversial content.

"If we left out things like sex and drugs and rock n' roll... then it would really be a game about teachers and homework and pimples, which would be boring and not represent the whole theme."

The game uses multiple-choice questions, which Ms Owen describes as "the type usually found in teen girl mags".

"The strategy lies in making as many friends as you possibly can, which means that pleasing one subculture of people (like more reckless types) isn't necessarily going to do you any favours," Ms Owen said.

Players can customise their characters based on social stereotypes of different youth subcultures.

"You choose from a very extensive wardrobe that contains outfits from subcultures including emos, fashionistas, nerds, etcetera and then you go out into the world and encounter non-player characters," she said.

"Essentially they ask you questions or things happen to you and you've got three choices in terms of how you respond to their question, or the event."

One scene from the game shows an "emo" character asking: "Wanna bludge and fake our own suicides?" The response options vary from "Sure! Can it be suicide by chocolate?" to "Teenage suicide don't do it!" and "Can't sorry – I'm already failing"....

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