Video Game Teaches Girls to be Upper East Side Socialites
By Kiratiana Freelon on November 19, 2012 2:10pm
UPPER EAST SIDE — Are pretty princesses a thing of the past?
A new online game called "Upper East Side Makeover" lets little girls play dress up "in order to finally be accepted into the inner circle of the New York socialites" and prepares them "to get invited to thousands of parties!"
The video game — aimed at girls ages 8 - 15 — features an ivory-skinned, brown-haired, blue-eyed protagonist who has to complete tasks including exfoliation and hairstyling to climb the social ladder.
The goal is for the player to achieve a "sophisticated" look and "prepare for a day out in the city or for a night out with your bffs looking chic and elegant like a true upper east side fashionista," according to the game's website.
"When you say Upper East Side, you say high style, elegance, wealth and fancy designer fashion items," the website for the game — launched Nov. 8 by Romanian developer IDEA Studios — reads.
"Upper East Side Makeover brings you the upper east side beauty, make-up and fashion in your own homes, without having to spend any money to get the stylish and high maintenance upper east side look," reads the site. "How awesome is that, girls! [sic]"
Daniel Tamas, IDEA Studios CFO and co-founder, said the idea for the game came when the company's creative team was brainstorming and came up with a New York motif with a fashion theme.
Though Tamas has never visited New York or the Upper East Side, he said the developers had gotten a sense of the area from American pop culture, "music, movies and so on. It's pretty marketed."
"There are some singers in the U.S. that actually use the theme," he said.
Asked why the main character's physical traits — such as skin, hair, and eye color as well as weight — were not customizable, Tamas said that IDEA Studios wanted to focus on the game.
"We researched, and found out to be true, all girls at that age want to test and try out different stuff," he said. "This way they can relate better to their own life or something."
According to one website, the game was played 27,665 times by Monday.
User Arina Attasha praised the game on Facebook, calling it "so bestt," and "cool , hot and sexy."
And a woman who identifies herself as Ria Apriani Weleh-weleh posted: "[very] coolllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll!"
However, some Upper East Side residents said they thought the game was less than authentic.
Sandy, a 41-year-old occupational therapist who did not want her last name used, admits she does not necessarily hang out in socialite circles, but still felt confident that game gave an "out of touch" portrayal of the area.
"Wow. Really? I don't know what this is," she said, adding "but it seems like this is just from a different era."
Perhaps this perception was wrought from "Gossip Girl," she said.
"The Upper East Side is different from the Upper West Side or Downtown, but come on, this is just ridiculous."