Star Girl: Not an App Your Daughter Should be Playing
“Star Girl puts you in the high heels of an aspiring celebrity who is setting out to build her career as a superstar while having a ton of fun along the way!”
As my 10 year old daughter and I were in the car driving home from camp, she asked me, “Mom, has there been a girl president?” I said, “No, sadly.” She asked, “Why? Come on mom, girls are doing important things. We need a girl president. How come it hasn’t happened?” And I answered, “That’s an easy question, with a complicated answer but at the end of the day, still today, many people don’t think a girl could be a president.”
The next morning, I met with our editorial team to discuss what new apps parents needed to be aware of as our focus is helping kids and teens have a healthy experience online. Star Girl was at the top of the editorial list. As I read about the latest app, I was sadly reminded of my conversation with my daughter about why there hasn’t been a female president. Companies like Star Girl’s are telling our daughters through their app, you’re only worth the make-up, clothes and boyfriends you have.
Here’s what you need to know and why Star Girl is definitely an app you don’t want your daughter to be a part of.
Available for free in the App Store, Star Girl is rated 12+, but the nature of the gameplay does not reflect that age. The purpose of the game is to dress up your avatar, date celebrities, and become a star. That all sounds like a lot of fun, doesn’t it? Who wouldn’t want to dress up, be famous, and date a celebrity like Tom Cruz, Dave Bakeham, or Jarvin Braver? Unfortunately, this game isn’t quite that simple.
Most of the game play takes place in a city that your character not so much walks around as shifts her weight around while the background moves behind her. The first time I saw the gameplay, it appeared to be Easter in the game and so, naturally, confetti was perpetually falling from the sky.
Oddly, becoming a star is the easiest part of Star Girl. There appears to be no shortage of acting, modeling, and singing jobs in this crazy city and everyone is excited to take a chance on your fresh faced avatar. You simply go to the job center and pick whichever modeling, acting, or singing gig you’re interested in and collect your earnings. You can also gain money and experience points by completing quests like “Finish Sound Demo Singer job” or “Change your clothes at home,” both of which are rewarded with $500.
That’s pretty much all there is to the “becoming a star!” part. Well, now that you have a steady and reliable income only a few minutes in, it’s time to get to the meat of this game: spending money on appearances and boys.
Clothes are a very important part of Star Girl; they are the only thing you can spend your money on (other than gifts for potential boyfriends). Different clothes come with different charm points which you’ll need for the most age inappropriate aspect of this game: clubbing.
Once you have achieved fame and fortune and bought a new wardrobe (not a bad haul for five minutes of gameplay), all you’re missing is a social life. Not your actual social life you’re neglecting to play this, but rather the social life you have with other computer generated avatars. So you shift your weight over to the local night club to pick up guys.
Relationships are easy, really; just walk up to someone you think is cute and start buying him gifts until he agrees to be your boyfriend. You even have the option to share this new development on Facebook, making it even harder to believe that this game got a 12+ rating.
You’ll then have the option to invite him to your home where he, like a genie freed from his bottle, will give you three wishes gifts which generally contain clothes. You have to keep him around for at least a little while to collect all three gifts as there is a mandatory waiting period between presents.
Really everything leading up to the night club is preparation for picking up guys. You’re famous, which one might think would be a pretty cool goal for the game to have, but you’re apparently only in it for the money (as there is very little else for you to do with your celebrity status). And what are you going to spend your hard-earned money on? Maybe start a charity? (You were paid $500 for getting dressed in the morning, you could afford to spread the wealth.) But no, you spend your money on clothes because there is literally nothing else you can buy in this game. Clothing has two functions in this game: looking nice and attracting male avatars using charm points. Ultimately all you do in this game is get clothes to get boys and get boys to get clothes working towards ever more expensive clothes and boys.
At best, Star Girl is another frivolous iphone app. At worst, it teaches girls that beauty is the most important thing in your life, that the only reason to have a career is to make money for clothes and boys, that if someone isn’t interested in you, you should change yourself to be more appealing to them, and that if you buy someone enough gifts, they owe it to you to go home with you.
I could be alright with this game if you could choose to play a character of any body shape or size, if the game focused more on your education, your intelligence and career than on how to spend your money, and if the relationships in the game were kept age-appropriate and did not involve money changing hands. There is a right way to make games for girls and this isn’t it.
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