Thursday, January 3, 2008

Webkinz- What is it?

Webkinz are stuffed animals that were originally released by the Ganz company on April 29, 2005. The toys are similar to many other small plush toys, however they come with a special code on their labels that allows access to the "Webkinz World" which is a website to "adopt" a virtual version of the pet for virtual interaction. There are also smaller versions of the toys called Lil Kinz that are the exact same as Webkinz and get the same items, but smaller, and usually cost less.

Each Webkinz stuffed animal and Webkinz accessory comes with an 8-character code. By registering this code on the Webkinz website, you "adopt" this pet in the virtual Webkinz World, which is an online play area with its own economy. The user receives money (called Kinzcash) by adopting new pets, playing online games, answering general knowledge questions, and through daily activities like clicking "I love my Webkinz", spinning the Wheel of Wow, or completing jobs (minigames) available once every 8 hours. Each day, there is a Game of the Day which can be played for bonus Kinzcash, and occasionally other bonuses are available each hour.

Users can spend their Kinzcash to purchase food and clothing for their pet, items for their pet's room or to build additional rooms onto their house, etc. Users can decorate a room for their pet with pre-made themes, or mix and match their own furniture.

The online world also contains many rare or exclusive items. Some of these items require developing a friendship with the curio shop owner to purchase, while others you get for registering other Webkinz accessories you purchase in the real world. Each type of pet gets special food available exclusively for them. Also, a Pet of the Month is announced at the beginning of each month. If a person registers the announced pet in that month, they will receive other exclusive items.

Many of the tasks in Webkinz World involve collecting items. For example, recipes are released for the players through cookbooks you can purchase or one of the TV Shows called The Secret Chef with Chef Gazpacho. Gems can be mined once a day at the Curio Shop, with a full set of gems being turned into the Webkinz Crown of Wonder.

Another feature of Webkinz includes the ability to create their own shows, with the Webkinz Studio, and enter to be chosen to appear on the Webkinz television.

Concerns have been raised about children's use and overuse of the toys. Some worry that children will become addicted to the game. Other parents say that it will only help the kids learn. Some parents have voiced concerns about the website's online chat system. The chat system has various safety precautions, with restrictions on who can send messages and what message can be sent, and to be able to chat with friends you must be in the same color zone as them. Additionally, in the "Kinzchat" chat room, users cannot type, but can choose phrases to say from a list. Concerns have also been raised about the toys being a distraction in schools, causing the toys to be banned in some schools. Concerns were also raised when the once advertisement-free site started displaying advertisements, previously only for their own additional game related products, but now also for movies, such as Alvin and the Chipmunks. The movie bob get the pets food and costumes of the characters in the movie. Some of the "advertisements" promote responsibility or healthy living.

Webkinz Basset Hound retired Known for their strong sense of smell, this hound is sure to sniff out all the love you have to give it. This little doggie loves to nibble on kibble – Kibble Kabobs that is. As hounds go, this Basset is the best!
Special Item: Detective Desk
Special Food: Kibble Kabob

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