Today a couple of us were crammed into a truck on the way to lunch. Several of us have kids, and we ended up talking about how incredibly popular WebKinz is. Somebody said it was simply a training ground for games like World of Warcraft. As we were talking, I suddenly realized why World of Warcraft and WebKinz are so popular.
Humans love to quantify things. It makes things so much easier. We're constantly trying to make the abstract have more meaning. We might say we want to 'get in shape', but when we get right down to it, we say things like, "I'm going to lose 10 pounds", or "I want to run 15 miles". Be honest, have you ever clicked on one of those ads for a free IQ test? You want to be able to quantify how smart you are. It's in our nature.
World of Warcraft lets you do just this. It's one thing to play a game, it's another to be able to say, "I'm a level 70 Shaman, my blacksmithing is at 297, my mining is at 282, and I have tier 5 armor. The higher numbers not only allow you to do new and nifty things in the game, but it's an easy way to tell/show your friends just how good at the game you are.
The game allows you to progress, but it gives you a quantifiable way to show that progression. Webkins is the same way. You run around and do things, and earn KinzCash. The Kinzcash is an easy way to quantify that. The more Kinzcash you have, the more of the game you can explore/purchase.
I have some more thoughts on this, and it actually ties into this post. But I'd like to think a bit more about it, so...stay tuned.