From Style Editor Bobbie Thomas
An online game is being criticized for allowing players to use famous kids as fashion accessories in ways that could be viewed as insensitive or exploitative.
My Minx, an "online fashion game for girls and dress-up game for style icons," recently added an adoption clinic component where players can buy orphans named after famous celebrity children. They are then able to style the kids in designer outfits and sell the image rights to magazines. Featuring virtual tots with the same names, ages, and nationalities as the adopted children of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, Madonna and Ewan McGregor, the game also recently began allowing gamers to adopt children from earthquake-devastated Haiti.
My Minx does not have age restrictions and many concerned gamers and parents' groups are upset with the messages the game might send to young players.
“There are more than enough pressures on children to grow up already. We don't need any more,” said Andy Hibberd, spokesman for U.K parents' rights group Parentkind, which also takes aim at the game’s virtual condoms and morning-after pills. “Their parents will not have any idea that they are playing this game and the children will fail to appreciate its irony.”
In response to claims that the game promotes insensitivity, My Minx founder Chris Evans says watchdog groups are overreacting. “If someone adopts someone in real life, why not online?” said Evans of My Minx, whose average age is 19.1 and boasts over 30,000 members. “I didn’t expect this to be so controversial. It’s just for fun.”
Evans says the game is marketed to late-teens and adult fashionistas who can recognize the feature as a tongue-in-cheek nod to celebrity culture. Overall, the response from his members has been positive, with only a handful of player complaints. “This is a case of [watchdog groups] trying to shield people from online orphans,” Evans said. “I think people are trying to overprotect children. They’re going too far.”
And while many insist the depictions of famous tots are insensitive to their celebrity parents, Evans certainly hasn’t received any orders to dismantle the feature. “I wouldn’t expect Madonna to phone us with a request to ‘please remove my children.’ ”
Do you think this game should be taken offline? Should it have age restrictions? Would you let your child play it? Share your thoughts below.