Friday, October 17, 2008 looks a lot like Webkinz

So my little girl brought home a plush toy the other day. It was really cute. I'm pretty sure it is a cow and of course you like her right away. The toy on its own would have been great but it turns out it is part of a virtual world game. The cow is indeed a toy on its own but it also brings with it a secrect code that gets you in to begin playing on a website. Sound familiar?

Webkinz has a similar game and has been around a little longer. Myepet allows you to care for your pet in a virtual setting. You can go shopping for it and buy it food and even clothing while you furnish its home. Everything in the world costs credits which can be acquired by playing various games. With the credits you can go to the restaurant to eat when your pet gets hungry, and she does.

Much like Webkinz, Myepets is a fun and safe environment for young kids to play in. There are plenty of parental control settings so that everything is easily monitored. There are chat and message functions that a child can use with other players but again, are subject to parental control. Your child is able to monitor the health and hunger status of her pet and even has the option of communicating with her.

There are a couple things to note. The games are not all that straight forward. If you have a real little one, say under the age of six, there may be some difficulty with a number of the games that have to be played in order to score credits. There are also some things that are not very clear in terms of functionality. Younger kids will probably be better off playing with a parent as they gain a greater understanding of how a computer functions.

There is no particular goal of the game really except to interact with the virtual pet while catering to its needs. The games go on and on and it can definitely be lots of fun. Much like Webkinz, I do see the potential for the game to get addictive. As there is no particular goal, it would probably be best to set limits with your kids in its use. Otherwise, it could become all encompassing. It is an aspect of most of these virtual world games that I am not a fan of. However, with regular parental supervision it should be fine.

I would have stopped at the plush toy. The idea of little kids staring at a computer screen for extended periods of time does not appeal to me as a parent. I would rather she be running around and playing with real friends. However, computer play time in moderation is alright. It is an OK gaming experience but still, I would probably recommend it for older kids. The object of caring for the pet seems somewhat lost on the younger kids who get caught up in the games and activities. Who can blame them. I'll be curious to see how many other companies come out with variations on the virtual pet world.

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