On Monday, American Girl revealed a brand new mini Xbox One S gaming accessory set for its dolls, and honestly, none of us were ready.
Seeing the tiny gaming bundle in action immediately inspired a conflicted mixture of “WOW I NEED THIS” and also “Wait, doIIook that dead inside while #gaming?”
But while the American Girl dolls modeling alongside the pretend console may be caught in the uncanny valley, we’ve got enough feels to make up for their thousand-yard stare. Namely, it’s the feel of: HELL. YES.
The tiny Microsoft console not only projects 10 different gaming screens, but also comes with two physical discs you can actually insert into the console, with boxed versions of such gaming classics as Dance! (in no way affiliated with Just Dance) and BLOKS (in no way affiliated with Minecraft).
And before any trolls out there can accuse these inanimate girl dolls of being fake gamer girls, the set even includes a gaming headset and fully equipped gamer chair.
Now if that’s not a serious gamer station for Real Gamers™, then we don’t know what is.
All of it is unequivocally rad. As an avid American Girl doll collector back in the day who loved games, I would have probably sold my parents to get one of these $50 plastic projectors.
Jokes aside, it might seem like a small gesture. But to girls and women who grew up feeling like they had to choose between either their love of gaming or girlhood, it means a lot.
The ridiculous divide between “girls” toys vs “boys” toys has come increasingly under question over the years, leading retailers like Toys R Us and Target to remove gendered labeling. These toys not only make all sorts of assumptions about the complexities of gender identity, but also what young boys and girls should like.
So it’s about time we started giving kids the toys they actually want, rather than the toys we tell them to want.
In response to Larry Hryb, director of programming at Xbox, revealing the set on Twitter, one father jokingly lamented: “Welp, with two American Girl Doll loving Xbox fiends for daughters you just cost me a lot of money, Larry. Thx.”
It’s heart-warming to see both Microsoft and American Girl acknowledge what women and girls have been saying for forever: Yes, we do love playing video games. We just don’t see ourselves represented in those games or the culture around them.
“We know gaming is a popular activity for girls today, making the new set a great addition to our contemporary Truly Me 18-inch doll line, which allows girls to express themselves and their interests,” an American Girl spokesperson told Samantha Cole at Motherboard. “Our product development team worked in partnership with Xbox to ensure the pretend set for dolls accurately reflected the look of the real version.”
And yet, I can’t help but want to protect this plastic American Girl doll from all the ugly stuff that often comes with being a young girl who loves to play games.
Luckily, the pretend headset does not come with the gendered harassment many women and girls experience in online multiplayer games. There’s no Twitter connectivity, either, so she won’t have to listen to trolls rage about women daring to exist in Battlefield 5.
And who knows? Maybe if we keep taking these small steps in dismantling gendered stereotypes about who plays games, we’ll start to slowly chip away at that toxic behavior.
Anyway, playing with dolls is all about fantasies and imagination. So let’s not ruin this fantasy of a world that doesn’t question the fact that girls play games.