Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I’m gonna have to face it, I’m addicted to…Webkinz

I happened to be brushing my teeth when my daughter slapped me with this dandy of a question.
“What’s an addiction?” she asked.
My first response was of course, “murph uff baa arw urg” which is dentist for “hang on a minute, I’m brushing my teeth.”
Extended rinsing gave me sufficient time to think just how to answer that question to my seven year old. When one normally thinks about the term “additction,” mostly non-childproof thoughts come to mind. We teach our children about negative addictions, such as drugs, smoking, and alcohol. We children of the 80’s know that Robert Palmer was addicted to love, and likewise Weird Al was addicted to spuds.
Trying my best to not tarnish her innocence, I simply asked her what she thought it meant. Her innocent answer was something like “when you like something,” which is pretty close.
To finish the definition I added on an explanation of how when you have an addiction, you like something a whole bunch, so much that you think about it a lot and it would be hard to stop doing whatever it is.
“Oh, like how you are addicted to coffee and the tile game on Webkinz, right?”
Er, yes.
It’s a well known fact that I’m a coffee lover. My children haven even proclaimed in their wisdom that “moms drink coffee, otherwise they might die.” But this Webkinz addiction is something new.
Haven’t heard of these fuzzy narcotics yet? Webkinz are cute little stuffed animals that come with a specific code. After buying the animal, you log onto their Web site and register your pet, which then becomes your real, live, virtual pet.
And because your pet is alive (in a virtual sort of way) you need to feed it, clothe it, give it a room, and provide it with love. All of these are available to purchase in the W Shop, but like real life, these things cost money. Well, Kinzcash, that is.
Thankfully, the wise marketing geniuses at Webkinz have devised a number of different ways to earn Kinzcash. These include a variety of online activities such as answering trivia questions, being employed, and playing a plethora of games in the arcade.
The more you play, the more you earn. The more you earn, the more you can trick out your virtual pet’s room by buying them stylish furniture, toys, decorations, and I’m not making this up, furniture to store your purchases in.
And just like in real life, I want my daughter to have it all. She is certainly the one sweet enough to not fully understand an addiction, so I naturally want her to want for nothing in her Webkinz world. And being an adult, I tend to be a little more skilled at solitaire games and trivia questions, therefore having the ability to earn money at a faster rate.
So instead of doing the laundry or reading a book or making lunch, I play Webkinz games. Mostly, as she has noticed, the Webkinz tile game. In fact, just now while writing this week’s column, my husband accused me of playing games instead of working, and my daughter in the background asked when I was going to be done so that she could have a turn…with her own toy.
It’s sad and pathetic but just as addictions go, it is nearly impossible to control. I’d like to say that it’s all for the good of my daughter that I am losing my eyesite for squinting at the screen, but while that’s partly true, I cannot tell a lie. It’s become my new addiction.
In fact, just give me my cup of coffee and my laptop, and I’m one happy junkie, with the best dressed stuffed animal on the block.

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