A controversial new video game for girls implies that stealing, sexual dalliances, drug use and gossiping pave the path to teenage empowerment, with the express objective being to "lie, bitch and flirt your way to the top of the high school ladder."
According to the game developer, "teachers exist to be manipulated," a looming parent signals potential "social death," new clothes are procured by stealing from the mall, and bribery is an exit strategy for sticky situations.
Although the game won't be released until early next year, a beta test in the Australian market has some watchdogs concerned. A spokeswoman for the Australian Family Association said:
The activities in the game have been shown through vast amounts of research to cause significant, long-term problems for young people.
However, Holly Owen, the creative director for Coolest Girl in School publisher Champagne for the Ladies, felt the game was being attacked unfairly:
Unfortunately the game has been misrepresented in some articles. It is ... a very tongue-in-cheek look at the perils of the quest for cool in high school. Key word: irony!
Owen noted that although smoking or drug use in-game "might seem obviously cool," they can cause the player's character to be sent to rehab or have bad breath when a potential boyfriend is near.
Online expert Christine Daviault of Montreal's Concordia University questioned whether youthful players would grasp the game's subtle humor:
I just don't think most people will see it as tongue-in-cheek. (Youth players) are at a crossroads in the formation of their personalities and a game like this basically fosters a warped idea of what constitutes success and how to get it.
Youth media consultant Anastasia Goodstein thought CGIS might be a liitle too real to be fun:
Coolest Girl In School sounds a lot like high school. Do girls need to play a game to remind them of high school's depressing social hierarchy?
From the game's website:
Coolest Girl in School lets players live out their high school fantasies. Experiment with fashion! Experiment with drugs! Experiment with your sexuality! Cut class! Spread rumors! But try to avoid dying of embarrassment- literally!
In Coolest Girl in School fashion and communication reign supreme. Working out what the hell to wear and answering hilarious quizzes makes or breaks you. Students are labeled according to the sub-culture they subscribe to...
Nobody said being the Coolest Girl in School would be easy…