The unflinching truth is that as this project of saving and presenting gaming artifacts hobbles along, traffic continues to dwindle to the point where one year the most viewed part of the site was a Nintendo cereal box scan that Lance Armstrong’s former cancer foundation linked to in a slideshow of discontinued snack foods they “sort of miss” (wedged between Crystal Pepsi and Ecto Cooler). They’ve since removed the clickable URL but kept the picture.
So while I can’t help but feel that this experiment has decayed into an online version of Weekend At Bernie’s, there’s a certain kind of freedom that comes from congaing out its non-beating heart at my own pace without any outside pressure. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself. This liberty allows me to tackle subjects that you wouldn’t normally find explored elsewhere, like a secretive Georgia game grading company or a onetime professional Steven Seagal impersonator who now teaches women’s self-defense classes.
Today, however, I finally met my match in a 20-year-old SEGA Genesis game called Barbie: Super Model.
Work first began on the article over a year ago when I interviewed Stephan Butler, whose studio developed the title, and Darlene Lacey, a former colleague of Butler’s, who explained what it was like as a female producer in the video game industry. After speaking with the two at length, I found myself faced with some challenging issues that I felt ill-equipped to handle in a graceful but critical way.
I began putting together the piece, and then stopped almost as quickly, retreating back to my comfort zone. I finally finished after several months of putting it off, but later completely wiped everything clean and started from scratch, which is something I’ve never done before. I’m still not content with my second attempt, but at this point, having it linger any longer will be to the further determent of the piece, and probably my mental health.
Don’t be quick to dismiss Barbie: Super Model as a silly, throwaway “girl’s game” as I once did, or you’ll miss out on the bigger picture and the greater discussion that needs to be had here. Namely, how many men does it take to make a Barbie video game?