But Where's Super Mario Sisters?

The bash-'em, slash-'em world of video games has long appealed to boys. Since its release last year, gory Mortal Kombat has sold 5 million units. "There's a fairly obvious gender bias" in the $6.5 billion-a-year industry, says Jim Myrick, marketing vice-president at Big Top Productions. But now, gamemakers are turning their attention to a neglected market: girls.

The target thus far is the under-10 group. And to date, the major entrant has been Hi Tech Entertainment's Barbie, a beloved toy-chest staple for 35 years. Since her game debut in late 1991, the video doll has sold an O.K. 500,000 units with titles that take her shopping, iodeling, and the like.

She's getting company. Big Top is bringing out four educational games on July 18 starring the Hello Kitty character, a feline from Japan, where it is a wildly popular cartoon. Kitty ($24.95 per unit) has been adorning little American girls' lunch pails for years. And just before Christmas, heavyweight Sega Genesis is bringing out several titles meant for girls such as Crystal's Pony Tale, where a pony tries to solve a puzzle. One problem, though: Teenage girls as yet have few games addressed to them.

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