12-Year-Old Madeline Messer Takes On Representation In iPhone Games

Here’s some major inspiration for you, courtesy of sixth grader Madeline Messer, who wrote this lovely op-ed in the Washington Post about the lack of female representation in the games she plays on her iPhone. As an avid gamer, Messer started to notice the distinct lack of female characters in popular games like Jetpack Joyrider. In many of these games, your only avatar option is a little man evading certain terror, running and dodging and jumping over obstacles. So, she took the scientific route, going through the top 50 games in the App store, and made note of the gender breakdown of each character. What she found is somehow unsurprising.

I found that 18 percent had characters whose gender was not identifiable (i.e., potatoes, cats or monkeys). Of the apps that did have gender-identifiable characters, 98 percent offered boy characters. What shocked me was that only 46 percent offered girl characters.

Well. If you do happen to want to play as a girl, it’ll cost you. Messer found that, on average, it cost $7.53 to buy a character that was female, which is an astronomical number when it comes to dumb iPhone games. Let’s look at it this way: It costs me $4.99 to buy coins or doubloons or whatever in Candy Crush: Soda Saga so I can continue to free the gummi bears from whatever goddamn mess they got themselves into, and that feels STEEP. Paying the price of a bourgie craft beer at a shitty bar to play a character that is a female is absolutely ridiculous.

Messer, who by now is your new #WCW, takes it home.

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.

The whole interview is awesome. Read it in its entirety here. [The Washington Post]