14 Books Game Developer Barbie Would Love
Mattel dropped an amazingly positive bombshell on Thursday, when it revealed that future Barbie dolls would come in four body types, seven skin tones, 22 eye colors, and 24 hairstyles. The company also announced Game Developer Barbie, the 2016 Career of the Year doll, available this summer.
TIME debuted Barbie's new looks in the cover story for its February 8 issue. Barbie brand leader Evelyn Mazzocco cites "[t]he millennial mom," with her eye on diversity and social justice, as the driving factor behind the change, saying "she's the future" of the doll's consumer base.
Barbie has dealt with legitimate accusations of body negativity, sexism, and racism for the last several decades. Mattel's attempts at diversifying the brand have fallen short — remember the Becky debacle? The most important development of the new, diverse bodies and faces available for Barbie is that they are all Barbie. Not Barbie's Fat Friend, Barbie's Tall Friend, Barbie's Asian Friend, or Barbie's Hispanic Friend, but Barbie.
Game Developer Barbie's striking look and badass career choice have garnered lots of Internet attention. Some are concerned that the excitement over Game Developer Barbie might lead to disappointment. It isn't clear whether Game Developer Barbie — or any dolls outside of Mattel's Fashionista line — will be available with the new, diverse bodies and faces.
Just as troubling is the question of whether Mattel can manage to make Game Developer Barbie into the awesome, nerdy hero that girls need, given that the manufacturer doesn't have the best track record when it comes to representing women in STEM. In 1992, Teen Talk Barbie lamented "Math class is tough!" in one of 270 prerecorded phrases. More recently, the 2014 children's book Barbie: I Can Be... A Computer Engineer had Barbie requiring help from two male programmers "to turn [her idea] into a real game."
Regardless, I'm hoping for the best with this one. In celebration of Game Developer Barbie, here are the 14 books I think she'd love to read.
1. You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) by Felicia Day
At least one Twitter user noted Game Developer Barbie's resemblance to Renaissance geek Felicia Day, who retweeted the post without comment. Day's 2015 memoir, You're Never Weird on the Internet (Almost), explores her rise to stardom and how embracing her weirdness allowed the actress/filmmaker/entrepreneur to carve her own niche in Hollywood.
2. Reality Is Broken: Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World by Jane McGonigal
Obviously, Game Developer Barbie is a big fan of fellow dev and TED-Talk-giver Jane McGonigal, who argues that video games can actually improve our quality of life, despite the bad rap they get.
3. Crash Override: How to Save the Internet from Itself by Zoë Quinn
Depression Quest creator Zoë Quinn was the first target of #Gamergate, a misogynist movement dedicated to preserving the boys club of video gaming. Quinn rose above the constant doxxing and threats of rape and murder to co-found the Crash Override Network, which offers free help to victims of online harassment. Quinn's first book, Crash Override: How to Save the Internet from Itself, is due out on August 6.
4. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua
Charles Babbage built a computer and Ada Lovelace programmed it in this steampunk graphic novel from Sydney Padua. It's not far removed from what happened in real life, except that Padua's fictionalized versions of these historic figures move beyond concept to an actual device.
5. Headstrong: 52 Women Who Changed Science — and the World by Rachel Swaby
Game Developer Barbie knows that she should respect and honor the memory of all the scientific women who paved the way for her to have her dream career. Nobel Prize winners and other innovators come to life in Rachel Swaby's book of 52 biographies.
6. Women in Tech: Take Your Career to the Next Level with Practical Advice and Inspiring Stories by Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack
When Tarah Wheeler Van Vlack Kickstarted Women in Tech, she put together a crack team of CEOs and engineers to help her cover all corners of STEM. With contributions from hackers, gamers, analysts, and more, this is the book Game Developer Barbie would use to guide her career.
7. Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
I'm pretty sure Game Developer Barbie loves comics in general, and Nimona in particular. In 2015, Noelle Stevenson turned her popular web comic into a graphic novel. Centered on a shapeshifter and her knight-turned-supervillain boss, Nimona is a refreshing and funny newcomer to the comics scene.
8. Hate Crimes in Cyberspace by Danielle Keats Citron
With #Gamergate still lurking about, it's almost certain that Game Developer Barbie will have experienced some form of targeted harassment. Refusing to accept that the Internet is an anarchic sandbox where people may bully and harm others without repercussions, Danielle Keats Citron argues for legislative change in Hate Crimes in Cyberspace.
9. We, Robots: Staying Human in the Age of Big Data by Curtis White
Our dream of a society where robots do our dirty work might be a dystopia for all but the privileged few. Curtis White calls for a more empathetic and reasoned approach to automation in We, Robots.
10. The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks by Sam Maggs
The list of contributors to Sam Maggs' The Fangirl's Guide to the Galaxy reads like a who's who of girl-geekdom. Thanks to this book, Game Developer Barbie knows how to overcome Internet trolls and navigate the convention scene with ease.
11. She's Such a Geek!: Women Write about Science, Technology, and Other Nerdy Stuff, edited by Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders
What does it mean to be a girl geek? That's the question editors Annalee Newitz and Charlie Anders set out to answer in She's Such a Geek. Featuring interviews from women in groundbreaking STEM career positions, this book envisions a future where women lead scientific development.
12. NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity by Steve Silberman
People on the autism spectrum do well in STEM careers like Game Developer Barbie's, but could they succeed in other fields if our society changed its rules to include those who think differently? That's the world Steve Silberman defines in NeuroTribes.
13. Women and Gaming: The Sims and 21st Century Learning by James Paul Gee and Elisabeth R. Hayes
If you've ever wondered how men and women differ in their interactions with video games, look no further than James Paul Gee and Elisabeth R. Hayes' Women and Gaming. This book examines how female players interact with The Sims game franchise, and how their experiences drive the industry by developing gaming culture and communities.
14. Chicks Dig Gaming: A Celebration of Gaming by the Women Who Love It, edited by Jennifer Brozek, Robert Smith?, and Lars Pearson
When Game Developer Barbie is in the mood for a literary and nerdy read, she picks up Chicks Dig Gaming, because you can't find Super Mario Bros., math, Harry Potter, and Nellie Bly between the same covers anywhere else.