Gone are the days where the stereotypical computer geek was a young guy with square glasses in a dark room. Women have become as much a part of the technological revolution as their male counterparts. In fact, women are more likely to use Twitter1, and spend more time on social networking sites than men2 . Overall, women spend more time online on average per month, (24.8 hours compared to 22.9 hours for men), and the rise of games such as online solitaire, card and board games has generated a new audience of avid female gamers3.
For the younger generation, there are a healthy number of virtual worlds that have features and are designed to attract girls into their online space. Although most of these worlds don’t specifically market their worlds as female only, and can be used and enjoyed by both genders, the games and themes would be more typically designed towards girls rather than boys. These virtual worlds can have features such as clothes and room design, social chat, games, and buying and selling items. The worlds are designed with girls in mind with bright, colourful designs (with pink being the colour of choice in many), and a focus on community interaction.
There are a handful of virtual worlds that have come from female-oriented toys, such as Be-Bratz, American Girl and Ty Girlz. To enter these virtual worlds, a code must be entered to access all the features in the world. This code is provided when a toy is bought, and many of these worlds focus on social chat and design in particular.
Other virtual worlds that focus primarily on girls include GirlSense and Pixie Hollow. GirlSense is a fashion game where girls are encouraged to be entrepreneurs by managing their own clothing store. Members can play a variety of games as well as advertising, decorating and selling trendy designs from their own boutiques. Clothes are auctioned in an Ebay style market place, where members chat and place bids on items they want to purchase. The site also has fashion and business style games that kids can play. Pixie Hollow is another virtual world created for girls, based on the hugely successful Disney Fairies franchise. Kids explore the world and play mini games to generate seeds and flowers, which are used to buy items in the virtual shop.
There is a huge range of virtual worlds for young girls, but keep in mind that all virtual worlds are open to both genders, and it is up to you and your child to decide on which is the best one for them.
Silvia Gallagher is the Head of Content for AvatarGeneration. Her background is in online learning, virtual worlds, and educational games. In her spare time she likes riding bikes over mountains and playing around with new technology.