Thursday, October 25, 2007

Virtual worlds threaten 'values'

In his speech Lord Puttnam voiced fears about the many
game worlds that have sprung up which tie access to the virtual world
to the purchase of a toy.

Webkinz, Funkeys, BarbieGirls, TyGirlz and many others are all virtual worlds created and run by toy makers.

"Are we absolutely sure that this is the very best we
can offer young people?" he asked. "Do we really want them to think of
themselves as not much more than consumers?"

He said: "Might we not prefer to build worlds that
encourage those same values and skills we wish them to exercise in the
real world?"

"The challenge ahead is this - to ensure that virtual
worlds are increasingly places that offer real meaning to their lives
and in the real world to learn from the sense of community and
collaboration that's been experienced in virtual worlds," he said.

Matthias Mikshe, founder and head of Stardoll, said many
firms were developing virtual worlds for children because young people
were far more familiar with them than their parents.

Specifically answering Lord Puttnam's point Mark Hansen,
director of business development for Lego Universe, said children were
very good at determining the underlying ethic of a virtual world.

"Is it positioned to sell more product or as an extended
experience with the product they have already bought?" he asked. "Kids
are very smart and will spot that really quickly."
Article Link (BBC)

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