FASHION IN GAMES
AMBER LOVE 07-APR-2015 I read an interesting article on Digiday about the popularity of some mobile games based on fashion. The games’ popularity with women, average age of 29, is just the sort of thing to be bashed in the gaming community as “not real games” because there’s a significant absence of violence. The goal of these fashion games is a bit deceitful so even I’m questioning if they’re real games or merely clever marketing tricks. Fashion based games have been around for ages going back to a DKNY app called Stardoll, but now manufacturers are incorporating a dynamic way that brings the creations to players IRL.
The Digiday article primarily focuses on Covet Fashion, but it also mentions Kim Kardashion: Hollywood, Fashion Star Boutique, and Fashion Story. Even Nintendo got into the styling trend with Imagine®, the original Games for Girls brand (yes they gendered their own product) which does have a small social experience; players can take on two-player challenges and can sell, buy, or give friends their creations.
“Gamification in fashion presents an enormous opportunity to communicate with and deeply engage loyal consumers,” James Gardner, founder and chief executive officer of Create the Group, told WWD. (via HuffPo June 24, 2012)
WHAT IS A GAME?
The fashion games like Covet Fashion make the “player” a stylist who gets to chose elements to put together outfits which are then judged. The virtual stylists are rewarded with whatever the game’s point system is; plus they have ranking systems of those earned points. There are extra bonuses too. In Covet’s case, they have “diamonds” where you earn 100 diamonds for every $1 spent via their click-through to a partner brand’s website. Would anyone count fashion styling games as legit “gaming”? Probably not many, but before you write them off, consider that they have systems, players, and goals like PROJECT RUNWAY; so whether FPS gamers want to accept it or not, fashion games are games. They’re also killer marketing tools which are likely designed so players don’t even realize the amount of money they’re spending.
The goal is shopping. I’m not dissing that the actual goal is shopping. I’ve thought about it and realize that addictive games like those found on Facebook are after players’ money too. Covet Fashion and Kardashian’s Hollywood happen to be free downloads (free in terms of dollars; they are of course gathering data so I’m not downloading any). Sometimes you pay the nominal fee for an app, but don’t ever think the game devs are done with you. No way. They want you to buy stuff so they make more money. MMORPGs have expansion packs or seasonal items players can buy with either their in-game currency or real dollars. The difference here is perception. It’s comparing women on the brink of 30 who have money to spend on clothes and accessories to other people on the brink of 30 who want their avatar to wield the ancient Sword of L’Brynothiel for extra damage. (Yes, I just made that name up).
In each game, players are working towards something (points) and, if achieved, they get rewards. I guess it doesn’t matter if those points are achieved by matching a black dress to a gold necklace or through slaying cave demons.
WOULDN’T IT BE COOL IF…
Wouldn’t it be cool if there was some intersectionality in these types of low-key, low-risk games with violent hardcore genre games?
Over at Covet Fashion, they show their brand partners are heavy guns in the fashion industry. Names like Cynthia Rowley, BCBG Max Azria, and Nicole Miller to name just a few. Those are designers who have clothes you can buy in a mall and actually wear without being stared at. I do however love to ogle and sometimes even laugh at haute couture when it gets totally outrageous and involves unwearable gear strapped to models who have to get down the runway without breaking down in tears. No really, if you’ve never watched an haute couture show you’re missing out. Sometimes they do crazy things like strap mattresses to the models and make them walk like that. Or there’s really badass couture that looks like it would be in the next RESIDENT EVIL sequel or MATRIX wardrobe department. Clothes with corsets, straps, lots of PVC and leather are common in edgy collections.
My “wouldn’t it be cool if” is this: combine the features of the fashion games and incorporate them into genre games. How cool would it be to have a cloak of pelts designed by Alexander McQueen’s house? It’d be fucking amazing! I’d want a warrior chick in an outfit from Jean-Paul Gaultier, who made Madonna’s famous pink cone-boobed corset for her BLONDE AMBITION tour, not to mention costumes for one of the best sci-fi flicks ever, THE FIFTH ELEMENT. Or consider a powerful witch/mage designed by McQueen like those glorious terrestrial-inspired outfits from his Savage Beauty collection. RIP, McQueen. You were one talented mo’fo. McQueen house is now run by Sarah Burton who has garnered a significant amount of awards including several Designer of the Year honors.
Consider the possibilities. What if players were able to buy their avatars outfits from Etsy crafters and then buy the actual outfit for cosplay?
This is the perfect time for game designers to consider such creative endeavors that tie back to the real world especially considering how 3D printed apparel has started showing up on runways.
From the looks of Covet Fashion, there are limitations in their human figures. As you may know, there’s an outcry for more “bigger than fashion runway size” clothing for the general public to wear. People are demanding to see diverse models on the runway too. It’s no longer acceptable to have an entire collection shown off by size 0, able-bodied, pale models. Consumers want to see what clothes look like on people who look like them.
In gaming terms, that could also mean expanding how something fits on non-humans. But from what I know, most playable characters are bipedal and basically humanoid but with alien skin tones or fur bodies. But, I admit, at this moment, I don’t own any games. I played CITY OF HEROES and mostly spent my time as a dark/dark defender who loved to create superhero outfits at the in-game tailor shop. Zillah Rook was a level 50, but she was also stylish as hell. I’ve never wanted to spend the money or invest my time in WORLD OF WARCRAFT because it’s so fantasy-genre specific; CoX had every genre so it was the best, imo. However, if WoW were to begin options with McQueen or Eduardo Castro (ONCE UPON A TIME designer) outfits, I’d be reconsidering. The bonus for having couture designed in a game is that no animals are harmed for the sake of fashion.
Images sourced from various fashion blogs, google image search, deviantArt, and Pinterest. Collages created by Amber Love.