Jess McCabe // 25 March 2008
It almost seems redundant to blog about Miss Bimbo. For once, a developer has produced a game so offensive that this story is everywhere. Miss Bimbo was the first thing my co-worker told me about when I got into the office. During the day, it popped up on countless feminist blogs. It was on the BBC news when I got home from work. And it seems almost every newspaper has run a story about it.
Yet, still, I feel compelled to tell you about Miss Bimbo, an online game aimed at nine to 16 year olds. The problems start early. As the Times reports it, players “buy” a bimbo, keep her thin with diet pills and earn “bimbo dollars” to pay for plastic surgery.
Launched a month ago in the UK, Miss Bimbo has already kicked up a shit storm and drawn in 1.2 million players in France. The game’s creator, Nicholas Jacquart, defends this vile creation thus:
The game is structured in such a way that it simply mirrors real life in a tongue-in-cheek way. It is not a bad influence for young children. They learn to take care of their bimbos. The missions and goals for the bimbos are morally sound and teach children about the real world.
“If they eat too much chocolate in the game, it is bad for their bimbos’ bodies and their happiness levels compared to if they eat fruit and vegetables, which reinforces positive healthy eating messages.
No, I’m not kidding.
From The Times:
After you broke up with your boyfriend you went on an eating binge! Now it’s time to diet . . . Your target weight is less than 132lbs
Have a nip and tuck operation for a brand new face. You’ve found work as a plus-size model. To gain those vivacious curves, you need to weigh more than 154lbs
Summertime is coming up and bikini weather is upon us. You want to turn heads on the beach don’t you?
Bigger is better! Have a breast operation
There is a billionaire on vacation . . . You must catch his eye and his love! Good luck
However, I also have a problem with the way that the critiques of the game have largely focused on whether it provides poor “role models” for girls. For example, the Guardian quotes Bill Hibberd of Parentkind:
“Children’s innocence should be protected as far as possible. It depends on the background and mindset of the child but the danger is that after playing the game some will then aspire to have breast operations and take diet pills.”
Yes, that is one major issue with the game. But I am also – or even more – troubled by the way that the game objectifies and denigrates the women characters that kids are “taking care” of. OK, so they are not real. But it seems to me that the game teaches girls to look down on and ridicule other girls and women just as much as it teaches them to keep to a certain weight, or dress a certain way, or promotes plastic surgery.
More on Miss Bimbo from the feminist blogosphere: