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Disney Video Game Teaches NYC Girls to 'Climb the Social Ladder'

By DNAinfo Staff on February 26, 2013 8:10am  | Updated on February 26, 2013 9:05am

UPPER EAST SIDE — Call it "Girls" gone mild.

A new, "family-friendly" video game called Disney City Girl lets players virtually decorate, shop and work to "Climb the social ladder and make your dreams come true!" a la "Sex in the City" or "Girls," according to company officials and the game.

Disney City Girl's launch comes shortly after the release of an unrelated game Upper East Side Makeover, which also taught ladies to be Uptown socialites.

Unlike UES Makeover, however, Disney City Girl is not for kids— the bulk of its players are 20 to 29-year-old women, said Rachel Nordquist, product manager for the game. And though it's free, some premium content can only be purchased with real currency, she said.

"This is an adult game — the language, the storyline, the mission of the career progression, some of the humor, those have all been purposely targeted at adults," Nordquist said, with the caveat that "because we're a Disney company, we're very cognizant of making things very family-friendly."

Why City Girl, though? The concept was to combine the long-standing popularity of Sex in the City motifs with the growing "pink" gamer demographic, Nordquist said.

Indeed, that seems to be City Girl's aim.

"From a grungy studio to a Park Avenue penthouse, from overworked intern to successful CEO, from country bumpkin to glamour girl, City Girl will keep you coming back again and again," reads the game's online description.

In Disney City Girl, participants pretend to be "recent New York transplant[s]" who move through the "stylish and aspirational virtual world!" alongside their "fabulous friends."

These galpals include Jenna, "a child of privilege" who "loves life and views the world as an open invitation" and Veronica, who "wants, and has, the best of everything money can buy — and she's keeping score!"

Some other acquaintances include a "grounded and real" college roommate, a quirky aunt and a young designer who has the potential to become a City Girl's mentor, according to the game.

While hanging with this gaggle, a City Girl player will "discover the best places to shop and hang out, choose from a variety of glamorous career paths, and visit exotic locations," according to descriptions of the game.

As said City Girl progresses through her career, she will also accumulate "style points, continually decorating and upgrading apartments, expanding her wardrobe, and facing off with her friends in 'Daily Look' fashion competitions!"

The game — which has attracted more than 1 million monthly players since going live on Jan. 17, 2013 — appears to offer two such "glamorous" career paths — fashion designer and chef.

"Author" and "musician" career paths are "coming soon," as there's a "full list of careers that are being vetted in terms of production," Nordquist said.

"The type of careers that you see are very appropriate to aspirational city careers. We're just working to prioritize through the game users' feedback," she said, explaining that "scientist" is somewhere on the list.

"My top choice is CEO — I would love to see a CEO track," she said.

City Girl gamers chatting on social media seem to rather like the concept, with one Tami Elizabeth Allaway posting on its Facebook page, "i LOVE this game, totally addicted....i check in around 2-3 times a day...visit ALL neighbors, click and send ALL gifts, do ALL voting...if you're looking for the ideal neighbor then you've found me! send me a friend request and i'll accept you all."

Arohitaa Sharma, whose listed profession as "doctor" at "soy una princesa, no trabajo" — Spanish for "I'm a princess, I don't work" — also commented: "heya this is so cool."

Several women living in the city interviewed, however, had mixed feelings about whether the game was an accurate depiction of making it in New York.

"I guess it's a good thing for someone who wants a simulated version of life," said Krista Golia, a 22-year-old student. "But I'd rather have the real thing."

Maddie, a 17-year-old college-bound high school senior, said the game sent conflicting messages.

"It's embodying this woman who's going out in the world, but there's also this sort of weird economic back story — the 'country bumpkin' — that's like Cinderella," she said.

"I guess this would appeal to a girl in Nebraska or Kansas more than a private school girl from the city."