Brenda Holloway writes:
''Is it okay to just be a little cynical when a marketing company such as InterActiveCorp (IAC) announces a new virtual world where kids can learn how to help the environment and "do good deeds in fun ways"? Especially when the current site at that address sells coupon books? No? Not okay? Well, it's possible that this could be the one kid-oriented site that doesn't try to sell children things under the guise of education... but the odds are against it. IAC, owners of such sites as Match.com, Ask.com, LendingTree and Ticketmaster, also announced Zwinktopia, a site where kids can earn (or buy) Zbucks to customize and equip their avatars -- Zwinkies -- which they may take offsite and share with friends or place on their MySpace pages. In the future, children will come home from school, sit at their computers, and actively seek out marketing so that they can earn the Neopoints, Zbucks, KidCash, Popularity Pennies and whatever else they feel they need to farm to have all the latest avatars and accessories. When children raised on virtual worlds graduate to MMOs, will they even notice the grind or understand the objections to RMT?''