Unless I’m much mistaken, it looks like Mattel’s new Barbie Girls, to be launched later this month, will be a physical doll that can interact with a virtual world, and should be a very interesting new experiment in that kind of crossover entertainment. BarbieGirls.com is a multi-user isometric browser-based virtual world just launched by Mattel for fans of the company’s Barbie dolls. It’s pretty simple stuff (see screenshot at end of this post), but it looks like it could be tied to the company’s physical dolls in interesting ways. The Barbie Girls concept is due for a broader launch on
March April 26. Mattel isn’t saying what that involves, except that “the toy blends fashion doll play, the Internet and music,” according to the L.A. Times. But clues can be found in the Barbie Girls world, where you can visit with friends, shop for clothes, earn B Bucks by playing games, and do many of the other things that are fast becoming standard in virtual worlds. If you’ve been to Habbo Hotel or CyWorld, you know what I’m talking about.
As usual, it’s the shopping that’s interesting. When I tried to buy the rather attractive pair of pedal-pushers pictured above for Walkerette, I was told to “Connect your Barbie Girl to buy this fabulous fashion!” (The “Tell me more” link, however, is blank at the moment.) That indicates to me that the physical Barbie Girls dolls will be interactive with the virtual world on the Web site. That’s a pretty interesting concept, especially if you can buy physical clothes for your Barbie Girl that match the ones she’s wearing in the virtual world. Maybe you get extra B Bucks if your physical Barbie Girl meets up in the real world with her virtual friends. Stuff like that, and more. Very cool. I’m looking forward to hearing more about this. I may even have to get myself a Barbie Girl. Uh-oh.
Walkerette at home