In Defense of Webkinz

UPDATE:

As of February 10, 2008, the Being a Mom is Great blog has moved here (www.soapboxmom.com). Please visit Soapbox Mom to read more articles by this author (bmg mom is now Soapboxmom).

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This morning I read another article mischaracterizing the craze of the moment – Webkinz.

Haven’t heard of Webkinz? It’s a great website (www.webkinz.com) where you and your kids can turn purchased stuffed animals into virtual pets. The stuffed animals come with a code that unlocks a room and a virtual version of the animal. Then you go online to Webkinz world and can enjoy games, create rooms for the pets, earn Kinzcash, tend to a virtual garden, play trivia games, arcade games, old fashioned games (like checkers and go fish), compete in tournaments with other virtual pets, hunt for gems in the “Curio Shop,” send and receive gifts (and thank you cards) and so much more.

It is NOT comparable to Neopets which my kids found annoying. It’s also not like Beanie babies (which were about as bad as those ridiculous Mighty Beans) from a few years ago.

It’s a safe alternative to some fairly frightening online places your kids’ friends might be visiting or your kids might be tempted to visit.

Yes, I admit, I’m one of those adults who has been drawn into the Webkinz craze and will now confess to actually enjoying playing along with my kids.

Is it a chore (as described in so many recent articles)? Certainly not.

Do I have to feed and “care for” my kids pets? No!! The health, happiness and hunger levels will remain at 100 (full capacity) if you don’t go online for a month. It’s only while you’re playing that the meter starts to fall. So your kids could be away at camp or school all day or all week and never touch a computer, then come back and their pets would be exactly the same as they left them.

The only way a pet would turn green and have an ice pack on its head (with a low health meter) is if your child is playing online and completely ignoring the pet. My family has been playing for close to eight months now and I’ve never had a pet display these ailments. I tried to imagine how that might happen. Here’s all I came up with: Let’s say you play arcade games, participate in tournaments, perform your job in the employment office, hunt for gems in the Curio Shop, then spend a lot of time decorating your rooms and all the while never happen to notice your hunger meter going down, maybe, just maybe, the meter will get pretty low (I don’t think mine has ever gone lower than 50). But you’d have to play several days in a row, ignoring your pet each time you play (i.e., don’t bother tossing any food over to your pet) for it to get to the point of falling ill. And, by the way, you only play with one pet at time, so the neglect would only impact the one pet you’ve selected. Really, this emphasis on caretaking is simply unfounded. It’s not about the caretaking! I hardly pay any attention to the little guy while I enjoy the many activities the site offers. I do, however, slide over some food once in a while. It’s just not a big deal!

If nothing else, one might argue that it’s comparable to letting your gas tank get a bit low. If you drive all over town and don’t happen to glance at the gas meter, eventually you’ll find yourself in a predicament. But, after having one scare where my sister and I were driving across the country and almost ran out of gas in the middle of nowhere at nighttime, I generally make it habit to keep my gas tank above 1/2 full. I tend to treat my Webkinz health meter the same way. So, hey, you could argue that there’s a potential life lesson application for your kids (a stretch maybe?).

Anyway…

My bottom line here?

I wish folks would stop comparing Webkinz to Neopets, Tamagotchi and Beanie Babies and give Webkinz a try!!

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3 Comments

Filed under Culture, family, Fun, games

3 responses to “In Defense of Webkinz

  1. Dana Bierwas

    Wonderful post!! My 10 year old daughter loves Webkinz, and I have to admit that I do too! The website games are entertaining, it’s easy to use, and best of all, it’s safe. I like the fact that you can’t actually chat with other users; just canned responses. No need to worry about inappropriate contact with your child. I LOVE this site!! 🙂
    Dana

  2. MTK

    Thanks for the comment, Dana!

    I agree that the chat is good, too. Probably the best one out there for tweens.

    I also admit to loving to play, too!! It’s a fun way to send gifts to your kids (with Kinzcash). It’s really just a different way to play with our kids, other than board games or card games.

    Great fun!!

    Thanks for reading and commenting!!

  3. cpvr

    Excellent post! Webkinz is growing very fast indeed.
    virtual pets