While Barbie may be known for her blond hair and affinity for all things pink, Mattel is taking steps to subvert the toy’s sometimes sexist depictions by introducing Barbie to a new career. So, yes, that means Barbie is becoming a game developer.
In a recent announcement on Twitter, Barbie told fans about the doll's newest career option and used a hash-tag telling fans that “#YouCanBeAnything.” The doll, which is now on-sale at Mattel’s online store, has a product description that reads: “Honored as a career of the year, young techies can play out the creative fun of this exciting profession. Barbie® doll looks casually cool in an industry-inspired outfit.”
The doll looks casual compared to its predecessors as the toy sports a t-shirt, blue jeans, a green jacket, and some very sensible tennis shoes. The doll’s traditionally blond hair is now replaced with red hair, and Barbie’s eyes are framed by thick-framed glasses. Accessories for the doll also include a laptop complete with real coding graphics, tablet, and gaming headset.
In a market which finds 50% of gamers worldwide to be women, both fans and critics are applauding Mattel’s newest Barbie after having criticized the company’s previous failed attempts to diversify the brand.
Dr. Kate Raynes-Goldie, a professor of Game Development at Curtin University, has said Barbie’s newest model will help break some of the sexism which pervades the gaming industry. In an interview with ABC, she said, “In the past they had Barbie saying things like 'maths is hard' and that set the bar really low, so this really encourages girls now to get into computers and video game development. They [sic] old saying goes 'you can't be what your can't see, so this really helps get girls thinking about this as a career and as something that they can do.”
Barbie’s new job signals to young fans that they can be anything. Even the toy's packing confirms the sentiment as the doll comes in a box which says, “You can be a game developer just like Barbie! Game developers are creative & understand technology, math, storytelling, & art. If you were a game developer, what kind of game would you create?”
So, for $13, fans can now purchase a piece of Barbie history and support a movement which inspires girls that their interest in video games can be more than a hobby. Instead, it can become a career if they work hard and play harder.