'Boogie SuperStar' video game targets girls
MONTREAL - The new video game "Boogie SuperStar" from Electronic Arts' Montreal studio aims to appeal to tween girls, a growing part of the gaming market which has traditionally been more geared to males.
The dancing and karaoke game, which lets players sing and dance and customize their characters, is designed for Nintendo's Wii gaming console. It's similar to popular reality TV shows like "So You Think You Can Dance" and "Canadian Idol."
"The overall premise of 'Boogie SuperStar' is that your character is discovered and selected to be brought to an exclusive place called the Boogie Academy, where you will have to increase your skills, do performances and eventually become the next superstar," said Charles-William Bibaud, one of the game's producers.
British pop star Natasha Bedingfield, whose songs are included in the game, is its spokeswoman and she's "a pretty good player," Bibaud said Wednesday.
"Boogie SuperStar," launched this month, is the followup to the singing and dancing video game "Boogie" that was released by Electronic Arts in 2007 to mixed reviews.
Montreal studio general manager Alain Tascan said the game is aimed at girls between the ages of eight and 14, a segment of the market that likes interactive and social experiences.
"It's also very interesting for a business that is usually more male-oriented to try to understand more a female audience," Tascan said, adding that more women were put on the development team responsible for the game.
"It's a growing market for this audience, if they find a product that is done for them," he said.
Adults and boys can play the game as well, Bibaud said, but "you can tell that it's a little bit designed toward girls." Players can pick their characters' clothes, hairstyles and colours, he noted.
Game developer Ubisoft is also appealing to tween girls with its "Petz" and "Imagine" video games.
Sam Kennedy, editorial director of the gaming site 1UP.com, said video games for girls and children are becoming a bigger part of the market, especially on Nintendo consoles like the Wii and the DS handheld.
Nintendo helped bring about a change in the market by experimenting with non-traditional video games, he said.
Girls and kids were "really, really ignored just a couple of years ago" by game publishers, who now realize they're a "huge untapped" market, said Kennedy, who is based in San Francisco.
Kennedy said he hasn't played "Boogie SuperStar" yet, but noted that some of the music on the first "Boogie" game was criticized as being "a bit adult" for younger players singing along.
Bibaud said the new game has more than 40 popular songs by artists such as Fergie, Avril Lavigne, Kanye West and the Jonas Brothers.
"The game gives users feedback and scores their performances," said Bibaud. "To get the best score possible, (you) have to follow the right icons that are associated with specific dance moves."
As for singing, the game lets users know when they're not carrying the tune. Red on the screen means "you're off-key and should work on your pitch," Bibaud said.