Virtual worlds destroying values?

Written by Joe Martin

October 29, 2007 | 10:33

Tags: #child #children #forum #speech #talk #virtual #world

Companies: #bbc

Oscar-winning film-maker Lord Puttnam gave the keynote speech at the Virtual Worlds Forum held in London last week and was critical of what he thinks is the erosion of reasonable values in children through obsession with virtual worlds.

Lord Puttnam was especially concerned about worlds created and run by toy makers, which are intended to tie in to a product line and encourage kids to buy the toys as well as play the game. Webkinz, Funkeys, BarbieGirls and TyGirlz were among the examples he pointed to according to the BBC.

"The challenge ahead is this - to ensure that virtual worlds are increasingly places that offer real meaning to their lives and in the real world to learn from the sense of community and collaboration that's been experienced in virtual worlds." he said at the forum.

During a panel session at the conference, toymakers got a chance to defend themselves. Matthias Mikshe, founder and head of Stardoll, did so and said that children were being targeted because they have a fuller understanding of the internet than their parents.

"This is the first digital generation and for them this is just natural...It's our generation that calls it a virtual world and builds some mystique about it."

Meanwhile, Mark Hansen director of business development for Lego Universe, which is about the only virtual world that's any good, said that children could make up their own minds.

"Is it positioned to sell more product or as an extended experience with the product they have already bought?" he asked. "Kids are very smart and will spot that really quickly."

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