Hmmmm...I had a bit of a revelation today. And it came in a game box. Or I should say it DIDN'T come in a game box. Because I didn't order the game.....and I really should have. And looking back at the WHY I didn't order it, I realized I had totally fallen into the trap I so loudly rail against. You see, in my head the box looked to "girly"...
A few weeks ago a game released that I chose not to order. There's nothing unusual in this really, there are MANY games I choose not to order. But since then it's bothered me and I couldn't figure out why. The game is from Iello, one of my favourite companies to work with. They make exceptional family games, that we sell tons of, and recently have moved into kids games that we love at the store (This particular game has been released under a different publisher, Scorpion Masque, but it's linked closely with our friends at Iello). So I knew it would be a great game. And I still didn't order it. It's also got some cool game mechanics that give kids advantages over adults, like challenging your short term memory, a thing kids do WAY better than adults. I LOVE games like this because it puts all family members on a more equal playing field. And it's a game that is manageable by kids alone, without adult help, another thing I value in games we sell. So WHY!? Why didn't I order it?
The game, Mia London and the Case of the 625 Scoundrels, is about a detective who uses memory and deduction to find the hidden scoundrel. Sounds awesome, right? Now what happens if I say the game is about a girl detective. Does it change your perception of it? Do you now disregard it for your child? Do you think that having a female themed main character will turn them of the game? To my shame, completely unconsciously, I did. But then I started to REALLY think about it. WHY!? Why did it bother me so much that the game had a girl themed character. She's funky and fun and looks like she's the smartest person in the room.
If it was a boy on the cover I would not have hesitated to buy this game for my daughter. I wouldn't have even noticed. But because it's a girl I DID notice. And in my head the words that came up were "too girly". AND I KNOW BETTER! I work hard to make sure I don't put kids in boxes at the store. I shudder when I hear someone ask for a toy or game for a girl or a boy. THEY ARE THE SAME THING. There is no such thing as boy toys or girls toys (at least, not when you're 8yrs old!)! Yet here I am.
I KNOW how important representation is! I'm not even going to touch on complicated issues like race, disabilities and gender identification. I'm not qualified to speak to those. But I'm a mom of a daughter. And I grew up in a geeky little world where Princess Leah blew my mind and showed me that strong women in media CAN exist. And I see my daughter get excited when she finds any new female character who's strong and smart and stands out as a leader. I KNOW how important it is to give them opportunities to FIND those characters in books, TV shows, YouTube videos and yes GAMES!
AND I STILL DIDN'T ORDER IT.
And in the end, is it so significant? Why, of all the crazy things, did I need to write a blog about it?! Why has it sat badly for weeks, niggling at me and popping up in my mind at the weirdest times. It's just board game. But I think it's a GOOD game. And yet, here I am. It makes me doubt and question all the things we've brought in. Have I unintentionally excluded, without realizing it. Have I skipped over products because they didn't fit my perceptions of how things are? I need to do better. I'll work to do better. And I will examine my perspective more and try to evaluate my reactions to things more. Because this was a small thing. But I know how small things become big things. And in case you're wondering, I messaged my distributor today and ordered this game for Fall! It's really cool. You should come check it out when it gets here!