Many game worlds are springing up that bind interaction in the virtual world to the purchase of a toy. Webkinz, Funkeys, TyGirls and BarbieGirls are just a few virtual worlds created and run by toy makers. But do children really think of virtual worlds in terms of a consumerist learning system? Aren’t they more interested in having fun, and do they really pay much attention to the advertising inserted into their fantasy worlds?
Many argue that advertising in virtual world learning systems isn’t as big a deal as we may believe. Mark Hanson, director of business development for Lego Universe, claimed that children are very good at identifying the underlying ethic of a virtual world.
For me, Lord Puttnam’s words ring true: “The challenge ahead is this–to ensure that virtual worlds are increasingly places that offer real meaning to their [children’s] lives and in the real world to learn from the sense of community and collaboration that’s been experienced in virtual worlds.”
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