Is the brave new world of multimedia software a sexist wasteland? That's the conclusion of some upstart software developers, who say that most programs--from adventure games featuring scantily clad women to "edutainment" products using video-game formats--appeal more to males. Pilgrim New Media, a Cambridge (Mass.) startup, hopes to get more women into multimedia with a series of female-oriented CD-ROMs. The first, due out in September, is Her Heritage: A Biographical Encyclopedia of Famous American Women. Created in conjunction with Merriam-Webster Inc., the $49.95 disk includes 1,000 entries, ranging from Lucille Ball to Deborah Sampson, who, disguised as a man, fought in the Revolutionary War. In addition to text and pictures, there are film clips, including a silent film of Annie Oakley, and sound footage of Ethel Merman, Oprah Winfrey, and others.
Meanwhile, in San Francisco, edutainment-software maker Big Top Productions Inc. is planning this month to ship its first in a series of "gender-neutral" disks for preschoolers and grade-school kids. The disks, using the popular Hello Kitty character, "motivate through cooperation," the company claims. The series includes titles in music, math, writing, and art, and can be purchased on a single $59.95 CD-ROM or separately on floppies for $24.95 each. If this all seems too politically correct for you, there's always Barbie Super Model, in which girls are encouraged to mastermind the doll's "quest to become the hottest of supermodels," according to the game's producer, New York's Hi Tech Expressions Inc.