Friday, September 7, 2007

Webkinz - the zone of agony

Today, Aisling purchased her first Webkinz pet, a little beagle about the size of a [whispering] Beanie Baby that cost $11. This Webkinz thing, a whole new racket to rope in the 8-12 giggle demographic, has been something that Aisling has talked about non-stop for weeks.

Webkinz, as you might have ascertained from the name, is a largely internet-driven fake activity for children to make virtual visits to their friends and play virtual games, instead of actually seeing their friends in person and playing an actual game, like Monopoly, where the money is fake but at least can be held in your hand.

In Webkinz, your "pet" exists in virtual form in a "house" that you "build" for it by nurturing your beagle, kitty cat, lion, elephant, husky or other of any number of plush creatures. For taking care of your virtual pet (even if presumably the actual plush toy has slipped down between the wall and your bed with the dirty socks you threw back there, and the dust bunnies, and for doing well at virtual games, you win "money" to furnish your "house" and make it as posh as you can; then you can invite your friends' virtual pets over to visit you.

It sounds absolutely mad, doesn't it? Whoever thought this one up is probably down in Aruba, swimming in a pool filled with Mai Tais instead of water and laughing like a hyena as they tip the salamanders clinging to the garden wall $5 apiece for being green.

I used to tip my hat to Build-a-Bear-Workshop, but this...this is much more complex, involving each child registering a hundred Webkinz toys on the internet, more of which are probably being sewn together by other less fortunate children, who seem to come from CHINA, according to the tag.

It's a funny old world, isn't it?

(The only other toy I can think of that has generated money in bale form are those horrible American Girl dolls, which I loathe with every fiber of my being. First of all, for being ugly and pop-eyed; second of all for being insanely expensive; and thirdly for being dumb.)

Anyway, back to the Webkinz. Each little plushie comes with a tag around its wee paw that has a secret code attached, all hermetically sealed up in a little plastic bag. The secret code is what you use to log on to the Webkinz World website to register your pet and set up housekeeping.


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