January 9th, 2008

Smashing things is fun. That’s not my opinion; that’s just scientific fact. Okay, that’s obviously my opinion. The point being, despite my glaring lack of a PS3 or an Xbox 360 (compatibility aside, that shit is ‘spensive here in Europe), I totally covet Burnout Paradise.

Sure, it doesn’t look that different from previous Burnout titles. And sure, it lacks almost all sex and/or gender content. If anything, as a driving game, it would normally fall under the domain of “manliness.” Then there’s the fact that, unlike more precise racing simulators, Burnout games involve a hefty dose of smashing. It doesn’t get more manly than ramming an automobile at high speeds into a series of other automobiles and staring at the explosion.

Still, I would argue–and this is where things get weird–that Burnout is a driving game for girls. It’s not that we women are sadists (even if I personally enjoy killing adorable animals). It’s that, compared with realistic sims, Burnout games give us a lot more bang for our feminine buck.

I’m sure there are girls out there who care about cars. Me, I know how to drive them, and I know how to not get hit by them, and that’s where my knowledge stops. (This baffles my moped mechanic students.) So the idea of driving a real car realistically down a real track at real speeds: boring! Now smashing things and making them explode and getting to watch the shiny, fascinating consequences? That’s the kind of car fun a girl like me can get into.

Tags: gender, new games

2 Responses to “‘Burnout Paradise’ Makes Even Girls Want to Smash Things”

  1. Scott Jon Siegel Says:

    I think that the distinction between fans of detail-oriented racing sims, and the arcade-style racing games isn’t just about the gender line. Arcade-style racing games cater to a much wider audience, while racing sims (like Forza and Gran Turismo) are oriented to a much smaller, but much more intense demographic.

    The interesting difference between these two genres is how they can look almost identical, and be so close to each other in terms of how the racing aspect plays out, and yet be so different in terms of what the actual “game” is.

    In games like Burnout, the racing is the vast majority of the game, but the core gameplay in racing sims comes from the tuning and customization. Similar to Madden and other sports games, the game is really more about the numbers than the actual physical acts (be it football, baseball, racing, or otherwise).

    Also, not to be Mr. Contrarian, but Burnout Paradise is very different from other Burnout titles, specifically due to its open-ended, free-roaming gameplay (call it the GTA of Burnouts).

  2. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Hmm, perhaps I’m thinking of Need for Speed when I think of the openended-ness. Still, my point is more the crash aesthetic–the thing that counts for someone smashy like me–seems similar. Ok, that may or may not be true…

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