Monday, 9 March 2015

Free-2-Gay: Kim Kardashian Hollywood does a good thing

I see it as a major part of my job as an analyst in the games industry to keep abreast of any major developments in the gaming scene that I can, including the free to play casual mobile space for sure. That entire first sentence is my excuse for playing Kim Kardashian: Hollywood on my tablet this weekend and I'm sticking to it. It's not like I'm hooked... or anything haha. Can you imagine!?!? Ha Ha Ha Ha. Phew-boy I'm glad we cleared that up.

Pictured: A woman.

For those who aren't in the know, Kim Kardashian: Hollywood is an energy appointment based upgrade 'em up game on mobile devices featuring both a cartoon version of Kim Kardashian West, as well as the real woman herself occasionally thanking you in pre-recorded messages for installing and updating the game. This game has done phenomenally well financially so it made its way onto my research radar. 
(Unrelated picture of man holding big fish)

The intellectual property of Kim Kardashian West, the real life person, is a huge install magnet for the game and covers the user acquisition strategy for the game basically. The scripting and visuals paint a compelling tongue in cheek journey through the vacuous world of striving to become an A-list showbiz socialite. The emotional core of this game is the desire to become some sort of one-person brand. The actual gaming mechanics are simple, but well made and compelling. But the reason that I keep coming back to this game is to develop my relationship with Steph, my love interest.

A gender binary turned into a gender quarternary. It's a small improvement!

Yeah. Just like that Kim Kardashian: Hollywood, a game that embodies all that traditional gamers despise about the current state of free to play casual mobile gaming, has just made it possible to be gay in their massively popular free game. With no great fanfare, I might add. They already had female and male assets in the game anyway (you can play as either for your personal avatar) so the developers, rather than write in extra lines of code to stop men from dating men and women dating women, just kept it simple and allowed for homosexuality to just be a thing in the game. Actually I'm fairly sure you can date anyone in the game, so bisexuality and bi-curious identities can be played. Or you can date nobody. It's your avatar!

I mean when the triple A industry sometimes has gripes about including women in games at all sometimes you think that there would be gay relationships between male characters all the time, seeing how it would save on art assets not to include all those pesky women shapes all over the shop. Nintendo even tripped up on allowing their simple user created art assets to engage in homoromantic liasons in Tomodachi life. Hell, Glu didn't even pat themselves on the back for including this feature in Kim Kardashian as far as I'm aware. They just let it happen in their game. It's almost like the design and code teams thought it wasn't worth the effort to program homophobia into Kim Kardashian: Hollywood. That's probably because it isn't. It's clever/lazy people who work on this game, innit. In subsequent updates one can hope that they cater for even more diverse gender identities. Break down those barriers! (Edit: They didn't)

But hold your horses! Adopting a cute stray cat on the street costs a whopping 20 Kardashian Stars when I can happily walk out into the real life streets of Malta and find half a dozen of them for free! (Edit: #throwbragthursday amirite?) Rip off! Sort it out! Stupid game. Don't play it. They charge too much for cats.

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