There's now a Game Developer Barbie —here's why she matters
Back in 2014, Mattel took an unfortunate step backward when they continued to print the book Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer. Rather than setting out to inspire and empower girls everywhere, this publication ended up doing the opposite because, to put it simply, its plot involved Barbie needing two male characters to help her after she infects her computer with a virus.
As you can imagine, many were not happy with Mattel’s depiction of a female computer engineer. In response, the company apologized, revealed that the book had originally been published in 2010 (not the best excuse), and stated, “All Barbie titles moving forward will be written to inspire girl’s imaginations and portray an empowered Barbie character.” Luckily, with Barbie: I Can Be a Computer Engineer out of print and Game Developer Barbie now on shelves, Mattel has kept their promise.
Rather than waiting for guys to step in and solve all her computer problems, Barbie is now self-sufficient. She can design and create her own game, especially since a she has an actual code written on her laptop. According to Slate, it seems that this Barbie is creating her very own version of Bejeweled on her screen.
In addition to her having a (surprisingly non-pink) laptop, Game Developer Barbie also has a workspace filled with things like flowcharts, a tablet, real programming books, headphones, action figures, and a cup of coffee. As for her clothes, she’s wearing what Mattel calls a “industry-inspired outfit.” This consists of white sneakers, skinny jeans, a comfy-looking graphic top, a green jacket, and gold glasses.
On the back of Game Developer Barbie’s box, it reads, “Game development involves storytelling, art and graphic design, audio design, and computer programming. Because there are so many aspects to creating a game, teamwork is important.” This means that though Barbie can tackle tech problems on her own, she’s still willing to collaborate and work with others (which is a hugely important part of any industry).
While this new release represents a major step forward, we can’t help but wish Mattel included diversity in their planning process. Yes, in the past, they have come out with a I Can Be Computer Engineer African-American Doll, but that’s now selling for over $150 on Amazon because it’s been discontinued. (For reference, this new Barbie costs $12.99.) Otherwise, on Mattel’s website, no other computer engineer or game developer Barbies are being sold.
Ultimately, it would be nice if we could have the best of both worlds: female representation in Barbie’s tech industry alongside diversity.