The most recognizable product that Ty Inc. has produced is the Beanie Baby. Ty produces a long line of unique soft toys. In 2007, Ty Girlz first appeared as a stuffed animal, quickly followed by the Ty Girlz website. Both the toy and the website are aimed directly at girls aged 8 to 16. Non-members can consult the site for free; however, this limits most of the activity they can have in the virtual world. Unlike most other virtual worlds, Ty Girlz does not offer monthly or annual subscriptions. Instead, members must purchase a Ty Girlz doll that has a secret code attached to the tag. The code can then be entered on the website during registration, unlocking all membership benefits. Currently, the price for a Ty Girlz doll is $ 14.99, although this price can change and vary.
Ty Girlz is a very pink website designed especially for girls. The website is actually modeled after dolls and works for two reasons: to bring owners together in an online virtual world and to further market the dolls. Dolls actually look like dolls – with serene, happy expressions On Ty Girlz, avatars don’t look like dolls – they look modeled after teenagers with little respect for themselves. Once the girls purchase a doll, they enter the doll code in the registration process and fully activate their membership. Members choose an avatar as their online personality. This avatar can be customized with accessories and a unique look. The avatar gets their own room, the ability to decorate it, a choice of major cities to live in, and $ 500 in virtual Ty Dollars.
Although most of the website exists for girls to talk about the Ty brand and interact with other girls, there are games to play. These games earn players Ty Dollars, the website’s virtual currency. The more games people play, the more Ty Dollars they can earn. This currency allows players to purchase room furnishings, personal accessories, clothing, makeup, games, and other commercial items. Chat is the most popular feature in the virtual world. Chat Around the World prevents members from typing their own words. They must use pre-selected words and phrases. In the chat version of Freestyle, members can type their own phrases, but they are limited to words found only in the Ty Girlz dictionary.
The website only caters to girls of a broad age group who are interested in fashion and social chats. The graphics are quite good: clean, clear and crisp images. It flows quite well. It is a bright website with vibrant colors. There is no violence, alcoholism, drugs or smoking on the website or in the games. Chat filters eliminate foul language. Other than testing simple memory skills, Ty Girlz has no real educational value.
What’s wrong with that
The comparison with Barbie is unmistakable. Isn’t there more to a girl’s life than makeup, fashion, beauty and shopping? Of course, Ty Inc. doesn’t think this is all that is to come from girls buying and sporting their Ty Girlz – does it? There are no positive role models or messages contained in the virtual world for girls that will allow girls to become nothing more than vacant shopaholics. Girls can have fun on this website, but it doesn’t have to be taken seriously.
Ty Girlz has no control over who joins their website; however, they have control over what members say. In this regard, Ty Girlz is to be commended for at least trying to put in place stringent security measures to protect the girls. The safest chat mode only allows users to choose pre-selected words and phrases. Even in the open chat, only words chosen from their limited dictionary are allowed and the moderators patrol this area. Members are encouraged to report inappropriate behavior, and parents are required to give their consent before a child uses open chat.