Thursday, March 18, 2010

Trend : Stardoll, the end of innocence

The time where girls were dressing plastic dolls is over. Now, a girl throws her Barbies before 6 years old and starts dressing herself like the models and celebs she sees on TV and magazines. At 8, she knows how to put make-up, at 10 she wants to buy DKNY, and at 12, she has got her own opinion on the last Balenciaga's runway ... The evolution of girls induced an evolution of their games.
When the website first appeared, around 2003, its name was Paper Doll Heaven. Its creator, Scandinavian graphic designer Liisa, wanted to recreate an old tradition, those of the paperdolls, figurines you dress with paper. But then, the website became more and more popular, and in 2006, became Stardoll. With this new concept, players still can dress celebrities ( such as Sandra Bullock, Amy Lee, Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker, Gisele Bundchen, Eva Longoria, Marie Antoinette and many more ) but they can also create their own doll, their look-alike or a complete fantasy of themselves, dress it, decorate its room and meet friends from many countries.
Initially conceived for girls from 7 to 17, Stardoll is evolving toward a more mature identity, recreating clothes of Haute Couture, promoting movies, TV shows and video games, and warning their players about global warming and endangered species. No surprising then to find as many mothers as daughters, and fashion fanatics in their twenties. For Stardoll is like every woman's dream comes true. There, you can buy ( and wear ) Christian Dior dresses for only 16 stardollars ( the website's currency ) and Hermes bags for 5.
A complete Miss Sixty's outfit ( top, jeans, hat, shoes and bag ) who costs 471 euros in real shops, costs only 74 stardollars. A gorgeous Diane Von Furstenberg skirt costs 494 euros in real life and 8 sd on Stardoll, and Miu Miu shoes, 725 dollars the pair, only 4, and avaible for "non superstars".

But, money, like in the real world, doesn't fall into your lap. When you create your doll for free, you're a non superstar : you receive 45 sd for free, and you can earn 5 a day ( 70 maximum per month ) by using the different functionalities. But soon, you will realize that the clothes and objects you can buy as a free user are the less interesting. Only two real brands are for those players, Kohl's and Olsenboye, and only 13% of the dresses are avaible without a superstar account. Actually, to be able to use Stardoll as a whole, you have to buy, with real money, a Superstar account. During a certain amount of time, you will be able to buy gorgeous clothes, decorate up to ten rooms, threw chat parties, create your own designs ( some users are genuine artists ), etc.
You can choose to buy an account ( and amount of money ) for one month, six months or one year, with a credit card. If you are living in France like me, one month will cost you 5,95 euros, six months 29,70 and one year, 47,40. The funny thing is that the prices vary with the countries ! For the same account, you can pay 5 euros less in the United States, 7 euros less in Great Britain, and 8 more in Sweden, for example.

And there, you quickly see the limits of Stardoll. This is not a beautiful world where teenagers can have fun and blossom in complete innocence. For Stardoll is, in the first place, a commercial product. The goal of its conceptors is to lead the players to buy, more and more. Some items, especially the clothes from the real brands ( DKNY, Miss Sixty, Vivienne Tam, Philosophy di Alberto Ferretti to name some ) end really expensive. And if you wish to buy Limited Edition, you will have to spend your whole month of Superstar in just one dress, whereas you could have bought over 20 different items with it. I let you calculate !
Stardoll is just a virtual world, and the money you spend on it is wasted away for good, as you will never wear the clothes for real. It could even create frustration when easily influenced teenagers realize that they can't afford the brands in real life, or when they click on the adds surounding the website. You should see them, driven to madness for an account or just one virtual piece of clothing. The frenzy seizes them, and the game turns into addiction. Then, they would be able of anything, even stealing other players' accounts or scamming them. The website also attract people with intention other than fashion ... Of course, Stardoll tries its best to prevent abuses, but the risk is still there for the young and naive users.

So, is Stardoll a good thing ? Yes, if you only take it like a game you play from time to time and if you are a mature and reasonable person. But for teenagers and children, I wouldn't recommend it : it's a poor education to give them, letting them believe that life is easy and they can have everything, and it's also a financial crisis for parents.
So, whatever they say, Stardoll is for adults who like to dream sometimes rather than for a young public whose dreams could turn into nightmares.
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1 comment:

  1. Perfect explanation. I am also a victim of the obsession stage... I spent hundreds of dollars on this virtual site. My mother finally said enough is enough and that pixels are just pixels that you can never get off the screen and into your pocket. Buy something plausible instead. But when you get into the collection of rares and the real brands that come out, you just can't stop. You want to be the best collector on stardoll who has all the MKA RC or one of the most famed 'elites'.... it never ends. You get bored of it, and then you pick it back up and spend more than you thought you would. That's why I say put down the computer every once in a while.. You'll thank your parents for it, later.


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