Parents concerned about Miss Bimbo game
March 25, 2008
Parents' groups have
criticized a new internet craze in which young girls
give virtual characters plastic surgery and feed them
The Miss Bimbo game has seen girls aged as young as nine given an online alter ego, which they look after.
They compete against other players in beauty contests to earn money so they can dress their characters in lingerie and take them to nightclubs.
The aim of the game is to become "the coolest, richest and most famous bimbo in the whole world". Players keep the girls at their target weight using diet pills.
They are given missions, including securing plastic surgery to give their "bimbo" bigger breasts and finding a billionaire boyfriend to bankroll her, while keeping a constant check on her hunger, thirst, happiness and other statistics.
The game, which was launched a month ago, already has nearly 200,000 British players, most of whom are girls aged between nine and 16. When they run out of virtual cash, contestants can send text messages costing £1.50 each to top up their accounts.
The sister website in France, which has attracted 1.2 million players in a year, has been condemned by French dieticians and parents.
The game's creators claim it is "harmless fun" and builds on the success of Barbie, the Bratz dolls and Tamagotchis, the virtual pets invented in Japan.
But parents' groups fear it will fuel teenagers' desire for plastic surgery and lead to eating disorders.
Bill Hibberd, spokesman for parents' rights group Parentkind, said: "It is one thing if a child recognises it as a silly and stupid game. But the danger is that a nine-year-old fails to appreciate the irony and sees the bimbo as a cool role model. Then the game becomes a hazard and a menace.
"Children will do what they have always done with Barbie dolls and the like, modifying them with new hair styles and clothing. But the technology has changed and so have the fashions and trends.
"Children's innocence should be protected as far as possible. It depends on the background and mindset of the child but the danger is that after playing the game some will then aspire to have breast operations and take diet pills.
"Many parents have no idea what their children are looking at on the internet and there are financial dangers for parents too if they do not know what their children are texting when they pick up mobile phones."
The game's creator, 23-year-old web designer Nicolas Jacquart, from Tooting, south London, said: "The game is structured in such a way that it simply mirrors real life in a tongue-in-cheek way. It is harmless fun."