Now I know why my daughter has been bugging me to join BarbieGirls.com:
It would be easy to dismiss an offering like Barbie Girls (feminists are probably going to roll their eyes at the whole concept) and yet 3 million registered users in 60 days does say one very, very clear thing: virtual worlds are going mainstream and the user base is dramatically shifting from being predominantly male to majority female. That shift isn?t quite as important now as it will be in the next 5-10 years as those playing Barbie Girls grow into adults; simply the next generation of online gaming and virtual world users will not be dominated by men. Source: Could Barbie Girls Become The Largest Virtual World?
She already uses a couple social networking sites for kids and while I don’t like the fact that she’s on the computer more than being outside playing, I can’t say that I’m a great role model for that either.
Regardless, Barbie Girls, Club Penguin, Web kinz, and other kids’ social media sites show how the Internet, built to maintain communications nuclear war, has become a focal point for kids to connect and interact. Not to mention the Internet is getting both younger and older at the edges. These kids’ networks are active, immersive, colorful and rich. Lots of rich media (games and videos specifically) in there. Kids play games to get points or “dollars” to “buy” things within the network. How much longer before will it be that a “game” is designed to solve a real-world problem? How much longer for before that game earns you real dollars?
Not much longer if these kids have their way. I bet the successors to Club Penguin are coming, and I bet we adults will want to join as much as our kids. of course we’ll have to accept the fact that they will probably kick our butts in the games. Such is life.