Tween girls are mysterious and fascinating creatures. As with any parent, I have a natural inclination which makes me dread the thought of my daughters growing up, but it is enthusing to see and support them as they experience the different stages of life.
What makes me even more excited is that the market is finally catching up to girls - everybody from toy makers to authors have finally started to figure out that this is a distinct audience with tastes and preferences all on its own. Brands like Lego are starting to recognise this and to tailor their offerings to girls accordingly. After all, you wouldn't expect tween girls and boys to wear the same clothes, so why would you expect them to be entertained by the same things?
Nowhere is this shift more obvious than in the field of technology. The gadgets, apps and games that have so thoroughly penetrated the lives of adults have now trickled down to teens, tweens and kids. I still marvel watching my daughter play with my iPad: flipping through various apps, navigating the home screen and knowing, almost inherently, what each button is for. Given my profession (I work for a company that specialises in online games for tween girls), it's amazing to see her in action, engaging with the games my colleagues have created. What's more, she, like so many other girls, now has a vast choice of entertainment options that she can enjoy on a desktop computer, on a mobile phone, an iPad, and iPod touch, etc. And they're all created just for her.
Tween girls want to exercise their aspirations, to explore and express their creativity as well as to develop and learn. Enter online gaming, once dominated by (and traditionally marketed to) males, but now includes offerings specifically for girls, meeting all of these needs. Games enable girls to set challenges for themselves and not only receive instant gratification for successes but also continuously incentivise them to grow. This is of course very different than the passive activity of watching TV as games offer real interaction. In a game, the player has the power to influence the outcome, which offers tween girls an opportunity to have real impact in the gaming environment. What an amazingly powerful experience!
Earlier this year, we released a report that reflects the trends on how tween girls engage with games online. Regardless of how you slice the data, it's clear that gaming is an active, engaging and entertaining activity that is supporting positive development of tween girls as well as encouraging active interaction with technology.
The games that best cater to this audience are those that can provide a realistic representation of what tween girls and their parents want. We hear all the time that these are games that are fun, social and creative, and satisfy the competitive and adventurous streak that so many young people have. What's more, many games can enable tweens to safely explore being an adult - sampling the likes of cooking independently, having a hobby such as horse eventing or even owning a farm! This could be their first steps in interacting with the online space so why not continue to offer something that not only entertains but empowers tween girls.
If today's tween girl is growing up a gamer, I look forward to the positive impact of this in my daughters' generation.