Monday, September 6, 2010

Nancy Drew: Hope for the Future

Sometimes, you can find trad things and trad people in places that you'd least expect. My twelve year old daughter Lil' Bean likes computer games. But, fortunately, she only likes one series of games, The Nancy Drew Mysteries. These games are based on the classic mystery series for girls that date from the 1930s although most of the computer games are set in the present day. In that way, it is more like the Nancy Drew TV show from the 1970s starring that preppy icon herself, Pamala Sue Martin (brings back fond memories, I know).
Nancy Drew, as a role model, is classically traditional but is really needed today. In some ways, girls' role models have taken a step backward. Do I really need to mention Katy Perry or Lady Gaga? It's remarkable, yet not surprising, that a brilliant role model for today was plucked from a timeless, preppy classic like Nancy Drew. Nancy as a character was ahead of her time. In a time like the 1930s when logic and problem-solving skills were not emphasized for girls, Nancy was smart and plucky, yet always lady-like. Tough, yet always a girl character that readers could relate to and hope to emulate.

Today, her character carries on with the very popular game series that is produced by the software company Her Interactive. In 1998, the company was a tiny start-up led by Megan Gaiser who observed that girls were ignored in the computer gaming industry and that female characters were often sexualized or were parts of violent game plots. Stores were reluctant to take a chance on a such a different game but, over the years, the Nancy Drew series has proven to be very successful financially while winning numerous industry and educational awards.

I offer this warning though...Even though the mysteries take place in fun, exotic locals like Venice, Paris, or in some dark castle, don't expect to accomplish Nancy's tasks easily or quickly. You will be humbled. -But it's good, TRAD fun along the way!

As a dad, I'm grateful for these games, not only because they really challenge a growing mind's capabilities in ways that very, very few modern entertainment options do, but that it is done in with traditional class and style.

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