Male Default – Part 2 – Targeting Men

It’s not often we hear outright of a game targeting men. More often than not, it’s implied that the game is targeted towards men, in words, in action, or by meeting the male gaze. For those of you not versed in feminist theory, the male gaze is defined as “the tendency of works to assume a male viewpoint even if it does not have a specific narrative point of view, and in particular the tendency of works to present female (or male, depending on the director’s tendencies) characters as subjects of implicitly male visual appreciation.

This is demonstrated with an astounding amount of clarity in the Evony Ads. The ads automatically default to a male viewer with the statement “Start Your Journey Now, My Lord”, and eventually devolve into showing nothing but breasts or the female body. The game, in itself, has nothing to do with sex, sexuality, or even saving women. The game is a multi-player online browser game similar in design to the Civilization franchise.

Now, for those of you that know me, you know that I have no problem with depictions of sexually charged women, sexually provocative women, or partially dressed women. But when an ad for a game is so heavily gendered, it understandably puts women off from playing it because they feel the game is not intended for them to play or enjoy.

Other ways that marketing teams implicitly target a male audience is by use of words like ‘real men‘, or using Playboy Bunnies to advertise.

So, in light of the above, I was rather surprised to find the following information about a new game. It’s a casual, sim-city style game in which you grow your little town, interact with ‘adorable’ citizens, and enjoy daily quests. However, it’s the advertising that stopped to give me pause.

“After the success of Farmerama and Zoomumba, RamaCity is our chance to incorporate male target audiences into our casual game portfolio and combine visually stunning graphics and sophisticated gameplay with a casual game that is easy to start playing.”

This is their “first casual game targeted specifically towards men”.

So I got to thinking about why this is so interesting to me, and I realized that it was because this doesn’t seem like the typical type of game that’s advertised through men – and certainly not in the manner that it was advertised here. No nude or scantily clad women, no macho declarations of guns and violence, and in fact, they referred to their townspeople as ‘adorable.’

I don’t often like targeted marketing. I find it, for the most part, to be offensive and ‘othering’ which is “a way of defining and securing one’s own positive identity through the stigmatization of an “other.”" So an ad that targets, for example, gay men, will likely be based on stereotypes, and yet gay men may embrace it simply because of the fact that they are otherwise so marginalized in marketing.

But when targeting marketing is able to do so without relying on stereotypical ideas of what their target market desires and introducing, instead, new desires (adorable avatars are typically not a selling point for men), it always makes me pause to think.

Another valuable point for consideration is that white, 20-35 year old males are still the default for marketing, and women are used to (and even encouraged!) to play masculine games, where as the same does not hold true for men playing feminine games.

So what are your thoughts on male targeted marketing? Is advertising a casual game to men like this a positive thing, since it doesn’t hold any offensive stereotypes about men? Or should they simply advertise these games to ‘people’, since women really enjoy these casual types of games, and they may lose out on potential customers by targeting only men? Are there benefits to this type of marketing?

6 comments

  1. Rafael says:

    And now I direct your attention (or at least the attention of your audience) to this video from Extra Creditz on women, marketing, and video games:

    http://youtu.be/R8ZVZRsy8N8

    A solid presentation on the state of women in the industry and what it would take to brake down some of these barriers.

  2. maxmordon says:

    My 7-years old sister is discovering videogames and she loves to play Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (after I have passed all the dungeons) but how can you tell explain her “Sorry, sis. There’s no female version of Legend of Zelda”? She obviously doesn’t mind at the moment but its hard to get her games where she can truly enjoy the world, the game AND relate to the main character.

    It also happens to cartoons and toys, Barbie has started to bore since she doesn’t do much to be honest, she prefers to play with Legos (OK, Legos knock-off, I’m a good brother but a broken one as well) and her favorite cartoons, Adventure Time and Phineas & Ferb, although Ph & F do have some action secondary female characters these are hard to find in Adventure Time except for one or two exceptions. I don’t ask to Adventure Time and Phineas & Ferb to suddenly apply Affirmative Action, but where are our brave female examples proving ADVENTURE is not just a boys’ thing. Where has Kim Possible and the Powderpuff Girls gone?

    The sad true is that even though pop culture and globalization may appear as a great equalizer at first we can’t forget is led by the white men’s ideas to the point we all have had to accept to these heroes: Superman, Indiana Jones, Luke Skywalker, etc. to create, compete and take a risk with our own.

    • Anjasa says:

      I once had someone tell me that the original Star Wars was really great for gender equality because Leia wasn’t a weak, piddling woman. Despite the fact that she was the only female character that wasn’t a stripper or a slave, this is what some white men think is gender equality.

      And that’s kind of the problem. We’re given token characters and expected to jump through the roof with elation.

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