Let’s play a game! Pretend you’re a girl and you’ve decided that you want to buy a handheld gaming system. You like gaming and would really like a system that’s portable and versatile (it has to have more and better gaming options than your cell phone, anyway). Luckily for you, Sony recently came out with a special campaign and product deal aimed at girls – Girlz Play Too. This is a special website to highlight a new PSP designed with girl gamers in mind! Sounds like just what you’re looking for, right? Let’s check it out!
There are several parts to the website, which is set apart from the rest of the Sony product website and not easy to find from there (because clearly the boy part of the website needs to be kept completely unaware that this girl part even existed or the industry would collapse). To start with, there are the products themselves, which is nice since you’re here to shop. The Lilac colored PSP is only available in the “Hannah Montana PSP Entertainment Pack”, meaning you get the Hannah Montana: Rock Out the Show game and a video with three episodes from the Hannah Montana show with the system and there isn’t any way to buy a purple PSP without them. But that’s such a girly game, I certainly can’t imagine there being anyone who might not want the mediocre Hannah Montana game but still want a Lilac colored PSP, can you? Ok, so the game is cool and you’re excited about the cute color of the system, but this is a fairly major purchase so you should make sure it’s worth it before you buy.
So, you like the look of the Lilac PSP, but need a little more convincing. You probably want to be able to play more than just the Hannah Montana game, right? Not much point in buying the $200 system for only one game, anyway. So what other games are available? Well, Sony is happy to tell you! The Girlz Play Too website has a section called “Games Girlz Play”. (For some reason, “girls” is perpetually spelled with a “z” – I have no idea why, but it’s a common and annoying thing in the gaming world and seems to be a misguided attempt to seem cool to girls while really being incredibly patronizing.) Unfortunately, there are apparently only six PSP games that Sony could find in their entire PSP library that are appropriate for girls: the aforementioned Hannah Montana game, Patapon 2, LocoRoco 2, Petz Dogz Family, Ponyo Fantasy Golf and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (the movie tie-in game). No other games are listed, nor is there a link anywhere to the library of PSP games suggesting that there even might be more options.
Well, it’s starting to look like this wouldn’t be such a hot $200 investment (a library of six games, and not even six super awesome games, hardly makes it worth the price). Maybe it has other cool features, right? So you click on the tab labeled “Explore the Features of the PSP “. This page is lilac colored and draws itself out as if with pencils before resolving into photographs of a girl surrounded by PSPs doing different things. Hovering over the images one at a time tells you that your PSP can “download games, movies and more” (no details are provided), “view your photos in a cool slide show” (no idea how the photos get on the PSP in the first place), “talk to friends with Skype ” and there are some video trailers of games that play when hovered over. No details are given for any of this and, considering the pages of features listed for PSPs on the regular (for boys) site, you start to wonder if your PSP is somehow less powerful than those, because even your cell phone has a better list of features than this.
Ok, so it’s not looking good for your lilac PSP. But there are two more tabs, so maybe Sony can still convince you. It seemed like a good idea, right? The next tab is “Customize Your Very Own PSP System”. That sounds cool. If you could really design your own case for the handheld system that would be awesome! There are lots of patterns and overlay images and colors to choose from and you really can make your own design. Unfortunately, it doesn’t mean anything. All you can do with it is upload it to a gallery. The real PSPs all look the same (although supposedly they come with stickers to personalize them). So, no luck there.
One more tab, one more try. The last tab says “Which game character are you?” Um… ok. It’s a quiz full of questions like “you’re planning a weekend with your friends, what sounds like the most fun?” and “when you fill out your diary, you…” At the end, you are told what game character (from the six girl games) you are most like. So, the quiz is cute, but also really stereotyped (BFFs and shopping and all that) and seems to have no point other than to suggest a game you should play (out of the only six girl games that exist in the PSP library).
Hmm… well… ok… so as cute as the lilac PSP is (and it is pretty cute), and even though you’re a girl and you do play too, it just doesn’t seem like this is going to work. I mean, why spend the $200 on a PSP which has only six games you could play and so few features when you could spend less than $150 on a cute pink or blue or red or whatever color you want Nintendo DS which has tons of games that are good for girls? The lilac was nice, but there just isn’t enough there to make it worth it! Being a girl doesn’t mean you need fewer or less awesome games and features. Maybe if Sony makes or finds more good games or includes a more widely appealing game with the system it would be worth it, but right now it feels like they’ve aimed for a very specific target and still missed the mark. Oh well, no big loss for us since right now there are other options!