Many years ago, a group of girls looked upon a holiday present one of them had received, and wrinkled their noses.
They had played all the other games they’d received, and now they wanted to try something different.
The trouble was, none of them wanted to play “Shopping Mall Madness.”
In the game, the player had to roam through the shopping mall with a credit card, buying as many things as possible. An electronic attachment with a small video screen displayed assorted items, and a tinny speaker described them.
Disgusted with the way the game confined them to the role of a blind consumer, the girls set about redesigning it. The only way that Shopping Mall Madness, they decided, would be a fun and rewarding way to spend the afternoon was if they rewrote the rules.
Clarissa got to work first. She would not abide by a game that encouraged rampant, irresponsible spending, having listened to numerous bedtime stories from her mother, who was a banker, including “The Princess Who Was Crushed Under Horrible, Catastrophic, Revolving Debt.” By the time she was done, the game required the player to first properly budget their money before spending any.
Emily, who had more than a passing interest in psychology, created a subgame in which the player had to determine whether they honestly wanted the items that the game had previously required them to seek. By the time she was done, the game made every player question whether or not their craving for various accessories was merely a societal construct. After all, she thought, there was more to life than a corporation programming a female consumer into traditional gender roles.
Dorothy immediately set about expanding the part of the game that dealt with the actual administration of the mall. She then had a merry time navigating the world of contractors, zoning boards, mall security, and a slew of other concerns. After this, she set about creating a subprogram that allowed her to build ever larger malls designed to cater to the needs of ever larger customer bases.
Joanne, whose specialty was electronics, redesigned the screen and speaker. By the time she was done, the screen had a 75 percent greater resolution. In addition, the miniature speaker produced rich, crystal clear sound that filled the room with relaxing music.
The music, of course, came from Caroline, who rewrite the trite melodies of the game’s mall music into catchy tunes that made all those who listened atop what they were doing and snap their fingers.
And that is why now, as these women sit behind desks in large, well-furnished offices, or sit behind control boards in large recording studios, or lecture in classrooms about gender roles and money management, or tinker with electronics in their development lab, they will sometimes smile and think back, from their positions of power, to the afternoon that they refused to spend shopping.