It only took them 30 years, but the video-game industry, through the use of massive-multiplayer games as well as the Nintendo Wii and DS, has finally gotten young women to join what has been a historically male market. Now that the ladies have picked up the controller, the fashion industry is looking to cash in. WWD reports that publishers have already served up a small menu of style-related games (most notably, Style Savvy for DS) and that this spring companies will be pushing to launch two hotly anticipated titles — one based on IMG’s trademark New York Fashion Week and another that will employ Michael Kors, Heidi Klum, and Tim Gunn in an interactive version of television hit Project Runway. Frankly, we’re more scared of Gunn’s withering stares than we’ve been of any sixteen-bit villain. Interestingly, the gameplay of both the existing and expected programs, while competitive, does not fall into the old kill-or-be-killed model that has sustained a sector dominated by young men and boys.
“A game is almost not what it is,” said Peter Levy, senior vice-president and managing director of IMG Fashion, to WWD regarding his company’s forthcoming title. “What we are doing isn’t somebody wins and somebody loses. It is more of a simulation. We are trying to do something that isn’t just a commodity, but that is very relevant and embedded in real personalities.” Indeed, these games — sorry, simulations — may eventually have a more solid, real-world component to them than your younger brother’s old shoot-em-up. Not only do MMPGs allow users to “buy” simulated fashions for their avatars, but they and other fashion-related games have a potential for personality-driven and creativity-based social networking that Call of Duty just can’t match. Taking that one step further, Quiksilver is developing a game with Xbox that will allow players to design and virtually build jewelry that they can then order online from Artbeads.com. Let’s see Mafia Wars or World of Warcraft beat that.