Lisa Marie Basile
March 06, 2015 11:00 am

Anyone who has a smart phone knows that in-app purchases are a norm, but sometimes those extras we pay for cross the line into problematic and sexist — like when an app expects players to pay more to have a girl character. We’re living in a world where young people of all genders are totally engaged in technology, so why are app makers still acting like technology is a boys’ game? The idea that using exclusively male characters as a default isn’t just inconvenient for gamer girls, it’s straight-up sexist!

One amazing 12-year-old girl agrees. Madeline Messer wrote a #dropthemic article for The Washington Post about her experience playing iPhone games:

Madeline wanted to know just how bad this problem was, so she downloaded the top 50 games and looked at the character genders within each game. The results were pretty ridiculous: When the games included characters that were human, the characters were 98% male!

“What shocked me was that only 46 percent offered girl characters,” Madeline said. “Even worse, of these 50 apps, 90 percent offered boy characters for free, while only 15 percent offered girl characters for free. ” Yikes.

Madeline also pointed out that apps with girl characters were way more expensive than the apps with most or all boy characters, which makes it clear that girls have to go out of their way (and out of their pocket) to play with a character you they can relate to.

We agree with Madeline: “These biases affect young girls like me. The lack of girl characters implies that girls are not equal to boys and they don’t deserve characters that look like them. I am a girl; I prefer being a girl in these games. I do not want to pay to be a girl.”

We hope that gamemakers will listen to what Madeline and countless other girls are saying. Inclusion should be obvious, but in many industries, like games or comics, girls are speaking up against being told that we are outsiders. Girls aren’t outsiders. We play games just like everyone else. We read comics just like everyone else. And we want a seat at the table just like everyone else.

(Images via and here.)

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