The "Creepy Girl Games" Phenomenon Explained
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Games for Girls
The internet can be a lovely place for children of any age, filled with cute cartoons, fun activities, and interesting online games. Young girls could while away the hours dressing up virtual paper dolls and brushing the manes of virtual horses. Game portals, websites that host groups of games, could host hundreds of high-quality, beautiful games that are interesting to play.
Unfortunately, they don't always do this. Sometimes game portals prefer quantity over quality, choosing to contribute to a culture of uncanny, unlicensed games.
This culture has been documented by the likes of the Something Awful forum and the comedy website Cracked. Who would make games like this, and why? I have a theory. First, let's take a look at five creepy games for girls. While these games are fairly unsettling, there are worse games I have decided not to include here. They are too disturbing to be shown.
Anna Brain Surgery
This game is more unusual than creepy at first glance. In this game, the player is directed to preform brain surgery on the character Anna from Frozen. The surgery is far more simplistic than one might expect, as flashing arrows guide players through the entire process of slicing through the human brain. The surgery ends with the wave of a magic wand. The surgery is so simplistic that it doesn't even have to occur in a hospital.
The creepy factor starts to appear when you get to look inside Anna's brain. The screen shot on the right shows what you find there: a "brain freeze", represented by a miniature Olaf. If you've seen the movie, you know how the mini-Olaf got in her brain, and that he has been in there for at least ten years.
Barbie Nose Surgery
I've talked about Barbie, the queen of Mattel, before. This time, the Barbie I am talking about already exists, and the player is giving her nose surgery. The game tasks its players with cleaning and repairing Barbie's nasal canals. A lack of text makes things difficult, but if players are good, they can figure out the scissors are used on the nose hairs and the green syringe is used on the boils. The player is allowed to admire their handiwork by staring at Barbie's upturned nose when the game is over. If the player can't figure out how to fix Barbie's nose, they can stare at their failure instead.
Pregnant Rapunzel Emergency
It would appear Sisi Games went for the original version of the Rapunzel fairy tale when they created this game. In the original version, Rapunzel's prince impregnated her and she was thrown out of the tower. (Do you have a better ideas for how Rapunzel ended up pregnant and covered in bruises and splinters?) The game requires players to help the long-haired princess by removing the splinters and healing her wounds. Once this is done, players douse her with x-rays to see her limbs are fractured, which they fix with crepe bandages. This gives girls inaccurate impressions of how medical science works.
Angela Baby Birth
Angela is Talking Angela, a mobile app that allows people to take care of and talk to an anthropomorphized 3D cat. In this game, Angela has become pregnant and her sixty days are up, so it's time for her to give birth. After the player gives her everything she needs to give birth, she is taken to a human-like hospital. The player takes the role of midwife. They help Angela through the birthing process, eventually resulting in Angela giving birth to a singular kitten that looks like Talking Tom, another mobile app. Developer Sue Fun may need to live up to its name if Outfit 7, the creators of Talking Angela, decide this is a problem.
Anna Makeover Game
This final game is a virtual paper doll using the character of Anna from Frozen. Normally, this would just be awkward, not creepy, but this game uses something that sets it apart from the others. It utilizes artwork other people have made. Anna's face is clearly taken from promotional art from the movie. The line where the promotional art transitions into the hand-drawn art is obvious. The background uses several different art styles, and the amount of detail varies from object to object. It is impossible to determine what art assets were actually created by Dressup Craze's staff. The face is obviously from Disney, but the rest of the art may be from other artists. One wonders why they didn't just trace Anna's face and pretend to have their own art.
Who Makes these Games?
I surveyed ten websites that produce creepy games, as well as two game portals. None of them have "about us" sections. Most of the websites included a short message about how they provide the best girl games on the web. The messages were written in broken English. Using a web host lookup service, I discovered a surprising number of these websites were hosted in the United States, but the games that used other people's art assets tended to be in east Asia. The portals I looked at were located in Singapore.
Frozen Love Spell Game
Why do People Make these Games?
The goal of all of these companies is to make money. They make money with advertising, much like Hubpages. The more people play a game, the more money a company can make. There are several ways companies can get more attention. One way is to get the game onto as many game portals as possible. Another is to create an experience over and over. The easiest way is to use things the target market is already familiar with.
After all, if you are a five year old girl and you're choosing between playing an "Emily Dress Up" and an "Elsa Dress Up", you're probably going to choose the latter. It doesn't matter if the doll you end up creating is an African-American in a bob cut and a pantsuit. You watched their advertisement, and to the developer, that's what matters. Developers know you, as a five year old girl, won't play the same type game over and over. They know portals don't want to host twenty nearly-identical games. This means the developers have to innovate.
Developers are trying to make their games unique, which can make for unusual combinations. They know surgery games are popular, so they make more surgery games. They know girls enjoy animals, so they create games about pets. They know some girls like to pretend to be mothers, so they make baby games and birthing games. Then, they try to add a unique element. Sometimes the games turn out to be normal, but some are creepy.
The Creepiness Factor
There may be some game developers that throw any ideas they have at the wall, but there are many others that focus on creating good, high-quality content. Not every person that makes girl games will make those games creepy. Though creepy games can be made fun of, it is important to keep in mind that there are always people with good intentions in the industry.