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Think Big. Move Fast.

CNN , the Times of London and others have been covering Miss Bimbo recently, which Jezebel describes as:

essentially an online competition in which each registered player is given a “Bimbo” all her own to take care of — sort of like those Tamagotchi pets, but, well, not. According to Miss Bimbo rules, the goal of the game is to make your Bimbo the ” the hottest of hot Bimbos,” which involves dating “that famous hottie,” becoming a “socialite and skyrocket[ing] to the top of fame and popularity,” and even resorting “to meds or plastic surgery”, because girls should “Stop at nothing to become the reigning bimbo!” According to CNN, “Breast implants sell at 11,500 bimbo dollars and net the buyer 2,000 bimbo attitudes, making her more popular on the site.”

Unsurprisingly, most commentators are horrified and worry that this online game is providing bad role models for young girls.

This reminds me of the furor that the Coolest Girl in School mobile game produced in Australia for similar reasons. As Gaming Today noted:

Emerging as a rpg for teens, the game sets a stage for girls where “stealing, sexual dalliances, drug use and gossiping pave the path to teenage empowerment”. In the game, the objective is to “lie, bitch and flirt your way to the top of the high school ladder”, and the developer, Champagne for the Ladies, is billing their new game as the young woman’s answer to Grand Theft Auto. In the game, the player is encouraged to “experiment with fashion, drugs, sexuality, cutting class and spreading rumors” in an effort to win.

Champagne for the Ladies states that in the game “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”.

Game Set Watch has a good overview of the gameplay.

One of the keys to the viral appeal of these games is the comparison to Grand Theft Auto. The appeal of these “game of new stimulation” (one of the four types of fun) is correlated with the “bad” fun of stomping on a sandcastle, as Bateman notes:

… one of the reasons the recent Grand Theft Auto games are so successful at tapping into this side of ilinx is that they are not wholly realistic… The tone of the games is realistic in a certain sense, and certainly they are drawing upon mimicry, but there is an unreal quality. This is expressed in part by the shrewd choice of a non-photorealistic art style, and also by the presence of ‘game-like’ elements in the game world, such as “power up” tokens. This is real, but it is also a game. That empowers the player to, for instance, go on a murderous killing rampage, and laugh as they do it. I do not believe there is anything morally wrong with this, and the unreal quality of the game facilitates this freedom to misbehave.

The joy of ilinx is reckless abandon… it can be the vertigo of speed, or of wanton destruction; it need not be violent, but it is always irrepressible – the temporary abolishment of conscious thought.

(I hope) people playing these games enjoy the satire and understand that these are fun and no more role models than Homer Simpson.

The vast majority of games that we see are of the first three types of fun: competition, chance and simulation. It will be interesting to see if we see more games of new stimulation which derive their fun from crazy behavior. It will also be interesting to see if these games can hold on to players over time as these new stimulations become less novel with increased gameplay.