April 26, 2007

Kids: Buy a Toy, Join Our Virtual World

Magda recently forwarded an article about online gaming and virtual worlds such as SecondLife, Runescape, and Club Penguin. But one of the most fascinating examples is Webkinz, a virtual world designed for kids 6-13.

The experience starts by purchasing a "lovable, plush" pet from a local store. The toy pet comes with a secret code used to unlock the pet's virtual home on the Webkinz web site (Webkinz World). There, kids can design their pet's room and use Kinzcash to decorate room, buy food, clothes, etc. In fact, like The Sims, students must care for their pet in Webkinz World (feed it, keep it happy, exercise it, etc.). Students can earn additional Kinzcash by playing games and taking quizzes, etc, and they can invite their friends into Webkinz World to interact and chat with each other online. The whole concept is astonishing, especially considering it is designed for 6-7 year-olds! Check it out yourself--take the tour of Webkinz World to see it in action.

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