Barbie Fashion Designer

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Barbie Fashion Designer
Barbie Fashion Designer MacOS cover.jpg
Mac OS cover for the game
Developer(s)Digital Domain
Publisher(s)Mattel Media
Platform(s)Microsoft Windows
Mac OS
ReleaseNovember 1996

Barbie Fashion Designer is a dress-up computer game developed by Digital Domain and published by Mattel Media for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS in 1996.[1] The game allows players to design clothing and style outfits. Players can then print off their designs and create clothing for their real-world Barbie dolls[2]. Barbie Fashion Designer was the first commercially successful video game made for girls [3][4]. After its success, many other girl games would be made, leading to the girls' games movement[3].


Players can design clothing and outfits through selecting different themes, clothing, colors, and patterns from various menus. Once players have designed their outfit, Barbie models their outfit on a 3D runway[4]. The software also came with special paper-backed fabric, markers, and fabric paint so that the designs could be printed off and made into clothes for real-life Barbie dolls[2]. The game complemented the way young girls already liked to play with their Barbie dolls and this has been said to have led to its success[4].

Release and reception[edit]

Barbie Fashion Designer sold over 500,000 copies in its first two months of release and over 600,000 within the first year of its release, outselling other popular games at the time such as Quake and Doom.[3][2][4] According to PC Data, which tracked computer game sales in the United States, Fashion Designer sold 351,945 units and earned $14 million by the end of 1996. It was the country's sixth-best-selling computer game of that year.[5] Commenting on its performance that year, a writer for Next Generation wrote that "Barbie Fashion Designer has done an excellent job at expanding the market and scored well with the female population."[6] It was also the top-selling SKU for Christmas 1997.[7] According to Joyce Slaton of GameSpot, "Mattel's successful innovation [was] placing Barbie Fashion Designer on toy aisles rather than in the boy-dominated software section in toy stores".[8]

Despite this success, the game has received criticism for using stereotypical feminine themes. Purple Moon founder Brenda Laurel has said the game “…perpetuated a version of femininity that was fundamentally lame”.[9] However, its commercial success made it a catalyst for the girls' games movement and proved there was a market for video games designed for young girls.[4][3]


  1. ^ "Barbie Fashion Designer (Mac)". FEMICOM. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c "Barbie Fashion Designer CD-ROM". Bullock Texas State History Museum. Retrieved March 31, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d Dickey, Michele D. (September 1, 2006). "Girl gamers: the controversy of girl games and the relevance of female-oriented game design for instructional design". British Journal of Educational Technology. 37 (5): 785–793. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8535.2006.00561.x. ISSN 1467-8535.
  4. ^ a b c d e Cassell, Justine; Jenkins, Henry (1998). From Barbie to Mortal Kombat: Gender and Computer Games. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press. ISBN 9780262032582. OCLC 42328580.
  5. ^ Miller, Greg (March 3, 1997). "Myst Opportunities: Game Makers Narrow Their Focus to Search for the Next Blockbuster". The Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on May 18, 2016.
  6. ^ "1996 PC Best Sellers". Next Generation. February 26, 1997. Archived from the original on June 6, 1997. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  7. ^ "GrrlGamer: GameGrrl". May 20, 2001. Archived from the original on May 20, 2001. Retrieved May 12, 2018.
  8. ^ Slaton, Joyce. "The Games Girls Play: Who Says Girls are Afraid of Mice?". GameSpot. Archived from the original on February 13, 1998. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  9. ^ Donovan, Tristan. Replay: The History of Video Games. Yellow Ant. 2010.