TECH

Mattel Finally Nails It With Game Developer Barbie

She's even got real code on her computer!

18/06/2016 5:57 AM AEST | Updated 24/06/2016 2:28 AM AEST
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A few years ago Mattel had to apologize for a book featuring a patronizing portrayal of someone called Computer Engineer Barbie, a flustered girl who can't fix her cotton-candy pink computer without help from boys. 

Now the doll maker, which has been rebranding itself in a more feminist-palatable way amid declining sales, is trying again with Barbie Careers Game Developer.

A remarkably chill looking woman who wears jeans, an olive green jacket and a T-shirt, and even sports punk-rock pink/red streaks in her hair (retail price: $12.99), game developer Barbie even has real code on her computer.

For the authenticity you can thank Molly Proffitt, CEO of Ker-Chunk Games, LLC., Julie Ann Crommett, entertainment industry educator in chief at Google, and Kimberly Bryant, founder and executive director at Black Girls Code. These women worked with Mattel to ensure the doll was believably techie -- that meant making sure Barbie was working on real code, and looked the part, too.

"The computer has [Javascript] on it and you can see various instances of game engines on her laptop," she told The Huffington Post, adding that the project was personally important to her. "I really know that girls need an icon that shows that they can be a part of the [tech] space and Barbie does that. She has power to tell girls they can be makers and builders." 

Mattel
Game Developer Barbie

Women in tech cheered the new look. 

"I just ordered one!" Brianna Wu, an outspoken feminist and game developer, told HuffPost. "My favorite part of this Barbie is how much she reflects the style of women game developers. Neon hair is a legit fashion trend in the game industry." 

"Today, I see a lot of girls that want to grow up to be engineers, not fashionistas. It's good to see Mattel reflecting that," she added.

Tech website CNet called developer Barbie "cool and capable."

Of course, there's a big push right now to get more girls interested in science, tech, engineering and math -- fields where they're still in the minority. 

I asked my 5-year-old daughter for her thoughts on Barbie's look, and she said Barbie "looks cool!" and that she likes her headphones. Would she want one, even though this Barbie isn't sporting high heels? "Yes!" 

Damon Beres contributed reporting.

This story has been updated to include more information about the women who advised Mattel on aesthetics and branding for Computer Engineer Barbie.

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