It was 40 — yes, 40 — years ago, in 1972, that Atari introduced the first successful video game: Pong. We've come a long way since the two-dimensional table-tennis game jump-started the multibillion-dollar industry, but there's still work to be done when it comes to the relationship between female players and video games.
The gaming industry has traditionally been a boys club with women only showing up in ads and games as sexed-up characters. And games targeted toward girls have been stereotypically girlie — full of princesses, shopping, and pink. Although it's not all bad. In recent years, there has been a push to develop more gender-neutral games, and last year the Entertainment Software Association released a report that found women 18 and older comprise more of the gaming audience than boys 17 and younger. So maybe we'll see more female-friendly games in the future?
Many of us grew up in the '80s and '90s playing the "girl" games like Tiger's handheld Disney princess games, but we were also equally interested in generic games like Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros. and even "boy" games like 007 and GoldenEye, which Sarah Silverman told us she played in her younger years. As we hopefully move away from the gaming industry's sexist and stereotypical past and into a more gender-accepting future, let's look at how these retro video game ads targeted girls or used women to target boys.