22 million kids in Scientology virtual-pet world

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22 million kids in Scientology virtual-pet world

Postby Corvidaerex » Thu Dec 08, 2005 5:24 am

Here's one to make even the skeptics gasp for breath ... I know, because that's what just happened to me while reading this:<br><br><!--EZCODE LINK START--><a href="http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.12/neopets_pr.html">www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.12/neopets_pr.html</a><!--EZCODE LINK END--><!--EZCODE LINK START--><a href="http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/13.12/neopets_pr.html">The Neopets Addiction</a><!--EZCODE LINK END--> (New issue of Wired)<br><br><!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>Every day after school, 11-year-old Tyler Gagen hurries home down the country roads of Hastings, Minnesota, to play with Buddy. "He likes hot dogs and cake," Tyler says of his pet. "I haven't brought him to the grooming parlor yet, but I will. He gets the royal treatment!" Tyler also cares for a half-Siamese tomcat, Arctic, and two cocker spaniels, Packer and Patriot. Tyler likes Buddy but says he appreciates the dogs and cat a little more because "you can actually feel them and stuff."<br><br>...<br><br>Neopets has a staggering 25 million members worldwide. It has been translated into 10 languages and gets more than 2.2 billion pageviews per month. These dedicated Neopians spend an average of 6 hours and 15 minutes per month on the site. That makes Neopets the second-stickiest site on the Internet - ahead of Yahoo!, MSN, AOL, and eBay, according to Media Metrix. What's more, its demographics are the stuff of marketers' dreams: Four out of five Neopians are under age 18, and two out of five are under 13.<br><br>It's these numbers that have captured everyone's attention - Madison Avenue, Hollywood, and toy companies, all desperately trying to grab younger and younger audiences. The Neopets characters now appear as stuffed animals and action figures and on board games and trading cards. Warner Bros. is developing a Neopets feature film. A PlayStation 2 version hit the market in October, and a PSP version is due out next year. And then there's perhaps the biggest deal of all: In June, Viacom - which owns CBS, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Paramount Pictures - bought Neopets for $160 million. "We want to be wherever kids are," says Jeff Dunn, president of Nickelodeon, who took charge of the Neopets brand. "And there are plenty of kids at Neopets."<br><br>... <br><br>CEO Doug Dohring brought two things to the company: expertise in market research and <!--EZCODE BOLD START--><strong>a deep commitment to the principles of Scientology</strong><!--EZCODE BOLD END-->. After college, he spent four years in Toledo working for the church in "counseling and communications." In the writings of Scientology leader L. Ron Hubbard, Dohring discovered a business model that would later become the foundation of the Neopets operation. "He created a management technology that's very powerful," Dohring says. Hubbard's companies follow a system of departmental organization called the Org Board, which he claimed was a refinement of one used by "an old Galactic civilization" that lasted 80 trillion years.<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END--><br><br>It just gets worse ... read it all, if you have the time / stomach.<br><br>I'm one of those who finds Scientology sometimes scary but mostly ridiculous and unimportant compared to everything else. But reading something like this -- direct from the source's mouth, as it were -- is pretty freaky.<br><br>What if they want to feed those 22 million kids something other than Happy Meals and stuffed toys? What if they <!--EZCODE ITALIC START--><em>already are</em><!--EZCODE ITALIC END-->? <p></p><i></i>
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Er, that's Twenty-FIVE million

Postby Corvidaerex » Thu Dec 08, 2005 5:36 am

Sorry, confused the 25 million members with the 2.2 *billion* monthly page views ... it's actualy worse than my first subject line.<br><br>25 million members ... that's more than the population of Australia, or Holland, or Greece, or Belgium .... <p></p><i></i>
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Re: Er, that's Twenty-FIVE million

Postby FourthBase » Thu Dec 08, 2005 5:50 am

OMFG, that's sickening.<br><br>I hope it's not connected to Nintendogs. <p></p><i></i>
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I don't get it.

Postby banned » Thu Dec 08, 2005 6:15 am

I'm kinda old, and have no kids.<br><br>So the kids have ONLINE imaginary pets?<br><br>If the point of it is to teach them responsibility as pet owners, I'd say it's a good thing.<br><br>If the point of it is to let kids who for some reason can't have a real pet at the moment--allergies, live somewhere pets are forbidden--to learn pet owner skills, I don't see anything wrong with it (do they have virtual boyfriends?)<br><br>If the point of it is to get kids attached to a pretend-pet so they'll go out and spend money on merchandise connected to the pretend-pet, it's kind of obnoxious but no more so than all the other tie-ins to get kids to buy stuff. (At the risk of putting all the young'uns to sleep....when I was a kid, you only got toys on special occasions--normally, on your birthday and at Christmas, maybe a stuffed bunny at Easter. To get it you went to a Toy Store or to the Toy Department of a department store or dime store depending on how flush your parents were. There weren't toys everywhere, there were no big box stores, you didn't get toys in your Happy Meal because there was no such thing. Consequently I can remember almost all the toys I had as a kid. The Barbie my mom bought me at Marshall Field in 1959 (the first one, now worth some bucks), and my hula hoop were exceptions to the 'special occasion' rule. (So were the toys I was given to bribe me to let the urologist treat without anesthetic my plumbing which had been damaged by sexual abuse but that's another story.) I remember most of my Christmas presents too, and all my stuffed toys and their names (I had around a dozen...my neighbor's kid by her first birthday had a roomful.)<br><br>Anyway, kids have too many toys but I don't have kids so I don't have to contend with trying to tell a screaming one of mine in a checkout line that they can't have the ten crappy toys placed near the register to make kids scream for them.<br><br>Anyway, other than the guy being a Scientologist, what am I missing? That the site may have subliminal content? Otherwise it doesn't seem any more bizarre than adults of normal IQ I've known who spend hours a day obsessively playing Sim-Something and get so INTO IT that when you talk to them you wonder exactly what's missing in their life that they find this so riveting. If what's missing is a pet, a 'virtual pet' might not be that weird.<br><br>Again, can you point me to the virtual boyfriends? Sometimes I miss having one but the last real one I had was extremely destructive--not of the couch, of my psyche. The idea of having one that, if he started getting verbally abusive to me, could be shut up by simply logging off sounds pretty good to me <!--EZCODE EMOTICON START ;) --><img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/wink.gif ALT=";)"><!--EZCODE EMOTICON END--> .<br><br>Better yet, how about combining 'virtual boyfriend' with a single shooter game so when VB tells you he slept with your best friend, or spent the money you lent him for his 'car insurance' on cocaine, or when he tells you one too many times you have a fat ass, you can blow him away....without spending the next 25 years to life in the hoosegow.<br><br>We could call it Kiss Kiss Bang Bang <!--EZCODE EMOTICON START :rollin --><img src=http://www.ezboard.com/images/emoticons/roll.gif ALT=":rollin"><!--EZCODE EMOTICON END--> <p></p><i></i>
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Re: I don't get it.

Postby Dreams End » Thu Dec 08, 2005 11:44 am

Neopets = Scientology? Crap.<br><br><!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>Anyway, other than the guy being a Scientologist, what am I missing?<hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END--><br><br>More from the article:<br><br><!--EZCODE QUOTE START--><blockquote><strong><em>Quote:</em></strong><hr>For Viacom, the main draw is the site's advertising model. In a world of TiVo, pop-up blockers, and satellite radio, where it keeps getting harder to reach people with ads, Neopets collapses the boundaries between content and commercials. Many zones in the vast make-believe world, like the Firefly Mobile Phone Zone, are sponsored by companies, and there are branded games like Nestlé Ice Cream Frozen Flights and Pepperidge Farms Goldfish Sandwich Snackers. Tyler likes to play McDonald's: Meal Hunt, in which he searches for lost McNuggets. Jana Gagen, his mom, says they've been taking more trips to the real-world McDonald's ever since Tyler started racking up NeoPoints in the restaurant's online game. "We go to get the Neopets toys," she says. The tie-in merchandise comes with Happy Meals.<br><br>----------------------------------------<br><br>Of course, what attracted Viacom to Neopets is exactly what makes children's advocates and media critics bristle. "It's clearly an effort to plant brand names in the minds of children," says James McNeal, professor emeritus of marketing at Texas A&M University and author of The Kids Market: Myths and Realities. "It is not until around 8 years old that they can mentally defend against a persuasive sales message if they wish to." Neopets reports that half a million of its users are under age 8.<br><br>Susan Linn, associate director of the Media Center for Children at Judge Baker Children's Center, agrees. "When childhood obesity is a major public health problem, what moral, ethical, or social justification is there for having kids earn points by watching commercials for sugar cereals?"<br><hr></blockquote><!--EZCODE QUOTE END--><br><br>As for how Scientology benefits (besides monetarily and the pub they just got) I don't know. If kids have to give an email address, that provides access. Only one way to find out, however. I guess I'll have to get a neopet. <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://p216.ezboard.com/brigorousintuition.showUserPublicProfile?gid=dreamsend@rigorousintuition>Dreams End</A> at: 12/8/05 9:01 am<br></i>
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Re: I don't get it.

Postby Dreams End » Thu Dec 08, 2005 12:31 pm

I don't have time to read this site right now, but it's a site that monitors another high tech Scientology venture that Dohring appears to be involved in (I got it by searching on Dohring.) Have a look..I won't be able to till later tonight.<br><br><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK START--><a href="http://www.digl-watch.com/index.shtml">www.digl-watch.com/index.shtml</a><!--EZCODE AUTOLINK END--> <p></p><i></i>
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Neopet strategies

Postby lilorphant » Thu Dec 08, 2005 3:54 pm

I have a child who was addicted to the neopet thing for a while, you had to keep playing games for points, the pets needed virtual accessories, and stuff all the time, and i think they "evolved" into super pets sort of like the pokemons did if you got more points. It all seemed okay for a while, but she was on the site all the time, and I even played a few of the games for her to get higher points. I think the ones I played were trivia type games. <br><br>I don't think the site itself was inherenetly good or bad, but you pretty much have to stay on the site to get points, I am sure they have a lot of information about her, so if they were looking for a specific kind of child... <p></p><i></i>
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Re: 22 million kids in Scientology virtual-pet world

Postby Sepka » Thu Dec 08, 2005 6:57 pm

I know one of the NeoPets artists. From the stories she tells, it seems a fairly ordinary place to work. They just had their office Christmas party. A number of my friends play the game as well (I lack the time) and from all I can tell, it seems designed to entertain rather than to impart memes. <p></p><i></i>
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Re: 22 million kids in Scientology virtual-pet world

Postby FourthBase » Thu Dec 08, 2005 7:07 pm

OK, as long as there's no connection to Scientology in the content. I guess I overreacted. <p></p><i></i>
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I don't think you necessarily overreacted, 4thB...

Postby banned » Fri Dec 09, 2005 3:07 am

...little children ADDICTED to the Internet is a scary thing, with or without scientology.<br><br>But when they have parents who are also addicted--Dad to porn or puter games or internet poker, mom to shopping on the net or eBay--yoicks, what a dreadful culture we have created for our young ones!<br><br>It's enough to make me add to "Kill Your TV"..."Kill Your Puter." <br><br> <p></p><i></i>
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Re: I don't think you necessarily overreacted, 4thB...

Postby maggrwaggr » Fri Dec 09, 2005 5:20 am

About a week and a half ago I thought it would be wise to teach my three year old how to use a computer mouse. I figured there were some simple games out there that he could play that would teach him how to click on things with the mouse.<br><br>So I did a google search and quickly found some games for pre schoolers. Seemed ideal.<br><br>Well I didn't think it through -- because now that's all he wants to do. Play those damn computer games. He got so into it the first time he was doing it that he peed all over the chair. <br><br>The computer interactivity is more addictive than television.<br><br>Scary stuff. The games he plays are completely harmless, and it seems to be increasing his hand-eye coordination, but the addictive nature is what's so disturbing.<br><br>(hmmm, and how many hours have I spent at the computer today ......?) <p></p><i></i>
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2cents and half

Postby Casimir2 » Sat Dec 10, 2005 1:23 pm

Hi all,<br><br>I was thinking that this kind of online "game" for kids are really an incredible source of information about the likes, dislikes tastes and so on of an entire generation.<br><br>Who needs to mind control (to a lesser extent) people when you know in advance to what they will react favorably or not.<br><br>They make kids hooked to a whole system of gratification which is never ending and that's pretty worrying.<br><br>We don't know yet the damages all this has done.<br><br><br><br> <p></p><i></i>
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Speaking of Addiction.........

Postby Floyd Smoots » Sat Dec 10, 2005 1:38 pm

I have been reading Jeff's home page posts for 5 or 6 months, and the replies and comments to his main threads. I would check in (reading only) about twice a week. Then, whoops!, I found the whole other world of the Discussion Board at the very end of this past November! Now, I HAVE TO at least read some of the threads a minimum of once a day, or I begin to feel highly uninformed. Considering the OP and subsequent comments on this thread, all I can do is ask:<br><br>Why do you think "they" call it the World Wide WEB?? <p></p><i></i>
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Re: "kill your tv, kill your 'puter"

Postby Hugh Manatee Wins » Sun Dec 11, 2005 1:05 am

Pro-'puter rant-Becoming a face fixed to a screen is definitely unhealthy as a lifestyle but the internet is the 'anti-tv,' plenty of unregulated and highly evolved history to be read as long as you stay away from the neopet diversions and other trivia. Libraries have history books and the dreadful People Magazine, too so it's up to parents to get kids to use their minds for more than corporate consumption.<br><br>Info can go the other direction, too. I've learned amazing things online that my college history teacher mother didn't know. She's changed how she teaches history because of what I've shown her so the generation in power can learn from the next generation with the internet at their fingertips.<br><br>Young people can follow their curiousity on any topic without being stymied and censored by adults with agendas if parents will help them around the tourist traps and disinformation pits.<br><br>Gender/sports rant-The sports industry is far more dangerous to kids than the internet, especially boys. I mean in terms of indoctrination through mock warfare into nationalism, militarism, authoritarianism, groupthink, ruthless competition, and just plain puerile distraction that leaves grown men talking about STICK BALL in obsessive and emotional ways while they have no idea what is going on in Washington DC, a successful infantilization of the American male. Women are too smart for that nonsense and fascists know this so they divide men and women with wedge issues to prevent men from catching what women have-an innate sense of the value of life and instinct to nurture.<br><br>The government knows that the internet can blow their cover so they are busy manufacturing pointless distractions to get the 'bread to circuses' ratio working in their favor online as they research us. <br><br>So use your 'puter to kill your TV.<br><br> <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://p216.ezboard.com/brigorousintuition.showUserPublicProfile?gid=hughmanateewins>Hugh Manatee Wins</A> at: 12/11/05 12:48 pm<br></i>
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