Sunday, December 7, 2008

Buildabearville -The Virtual World of the Five Year Old Plus

One of the many branch stores of Build-a-Bear Workshop

For months my daughter had been telling me that my granddaughter Sofia has been waiting for me to visit so that I could be her "friend" in the Buildabearville virtual world. She first discovered Build-a-Bear Workshop at a birthday party. This American company has grown to over 300 stores world wide now and as a birthday party venue it has become very popular. Sofia and the other children were taken to the store and "built" their own bears and even were given some clothes for them. Now that must have cost some mother and father a pretty penny.

But the most important thing you get is a birth certificate for your bear with an ID number so that you can create an avatar in Buildabearville and you and your furry friend who travels with you in your backpack can play games by yourself or with others to earn "bear bills "so that you can buy things like clothes or things to decorate your very own club condominium.

Thus Sofia Astronaut was born and with her Koala Bear which she named Cody she has learned to navigate this world with great skill. However she was not allowed to make "friends" with anyone else nor was she allowed to buy anything without asking her parents first. But she seemed to enjoy it all immensely and has been allowed a limited time there almost every day.

So almost as soon as we arrived, off we went to the closest store to buy a "bear" for Nanna, the thought being that the "bear" would be given away to a charitable group distributing presents for Christmas. Now I was allowed to choose my own furry friend and naturally I chose a dog, an Alaskan malamute in fact and of course I named her Cleo. Sofia was allowed to buy another furry friend but in fact they had a special for Christmas with a pair called Hal and Holly Moose which also included a book so that was her choice.

Samples of Sofia's choice of Hal and Holly Moose

A sample of Nanna's choice

This huge stuffing machine is operated by the store employee with
a little help from the purchaser as each
bear is "built"or stuffed.

Cleo is stuffed and ready to go

Back home I logged onto the site and Joanna Astronaut was born but now the tyranny began. Sofia Astronaut had been waiting for a friend to play with for a long time and poor Joanna was dragged from one place to another in her wake. Not only that, but in real life if I was a bit slow to respond the mouse was dragged from my hand as she operated both avatars and darted back and forth between the two laptops as she showed Joanna the ropes. She also started to call me Joanna in real life, even when we were doing something else. Come on Joanna, let's do this or that. It was actually quite funny.

After she had gone to bed I played around a bit with earning a few more bear bills and became a bit more familiar with the workings of the site so I wasn't such a dufus. But I never did catch up to her level of skill. Sigh. It's pretty depressing to be outclassed at something by a five year old.

As you can see these furry friends have become part of Sofia's real life and I am not sure that Cleo will be moving on to some other child's house via the Charity group. I think they will have to come up with another toy for the group to give away.

On the day before we left to come back to Vancouver, we made another visit to Build-a-Bear so that my daughter could redeem a certificate that she had acquired and now she is Susanna Astronaut with her furry friend, a dog called Niccolo, and she has joined Sofia and Joanna as the Astronaut family. I wonder how many other mothers and grandmothers are cruising around in Buildabearville, decorating their condos and fishing in the pond to earn bear bills or are we unique? I mean did I wop a five year old at baseball or was it perhaps someone's granddad?


Moggs Tigerpaw said...

Tee-Hee.. Sounds rather like SL for kids and probably great fun.

Bear Bills/Linden$, you can bear-ly tell the difference ^_^

Maybe you need to update your avie?

Or get a new ID. Should I keep an eye out for Joanna Astronaut in sl?

Crushed said...

Blogging, Second Life, Buildabearville...

Where will it end? ;)

Dr.John said...

Sounds a bit like Webkins. My grandkids got Betty started and now she goes every day and feeds her virtual dog.

sally in norfolk said...

sounds great fun to me and what a loevly thing to share with your grandaughter :-)

CherryPie said...

:-) Love that Reindeer ;-)

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Makes me want to be a child again!

Moggs Tigerpaw said...


Tell Sofia there are Teddynaughts in space...

jams o donnell said...

I love the look of sheer delight on Sofia's face!

Hannahboysrock7 said...

You are not alone. My 9 year old niece flew in from Arizona in June. Her birthday was June 30th so we took her to buildabear to pick out a gift. She chose a pink leapard print bear. We came home and brought Hannah to life. Since then I have bought 5 more furry friends to life. I love to play baseball. I have all the crowns and multiple bubble dresses and yes all the holiday dresses. I love my cute elf outfit. My name is Hannahboysrock7. I'm 27 and a buildabearville addict.