GoPets engages Community to OWN community

Via, an uplifting story of corporate responsibility to counteract yesterday’s exploration of corporate neglect. Erik Bethke, CEO of a virtual pet MMO-environment called GoPets, has announced that their site wants the game community’s help (academic and practitioner, as well as players, I would assume) in drafting an “Avatar Bill of Rights” that will allow players to retain IP rights and foster user-generated content…as well as create a much more level and democratic playing field wherever political, ethical and legal issues arise.

Gamine Expedition: GoPets Avatar Bill of Rights

(Sara G over at Gamine Expedition has a more detailed account of the GoPets initiative. Check it out)

Okay, so granted: this is a great PR opportunity.

If a brand has an existence online… it has an agenda. And as I’ve said before… all these virtual worlds created to support user playpatterns & promote brand/product–>That stuff ain’t free. And it ain’t cheap either.

GoPet is capitalizing on their audience (THEIR OVER 13 YEAR OLD AUDIENCE, no U13 tater tots allowed, thanks) through their community. Give community engagement, give community empowerment and you’ve got a blindly dedicated audience (nothing more promising than boredom cured and a busy kid appreciated).

So by asking the community to CREATE their own bill of rights? A bill of rights that helps them OWN their online creative brilliance? Genius.

a) Problems on the rise with UGC. You put content that YOU created on a website? Goodbye ownership. That site can do anything they want with it because it’s THEIRS now. Sure, if a minor puts content on a site and they grow up– after 18 they can sue (even if their parents had given permission), and sue successfully. Why? They were a minor! Our deep-seeded American moral obligation says “don’t take candy from babies, you jerk.” (And I’m glad for that obligation)

So these days on sites like and so on kids are uploading their brilliant masterpieces. Then other (either clever or stupid) tater tots come peepin’ along, steal it, and then go all “Andy Warhol” on it by “graffiti-ing” it until it because something slightly different… and then resubmitting it as their own. Basically stealing and redecorating.

Kids, with their MIGHTY justice-system cores (like the bloomin’ justice league holding court in their souls, good lil buggin’s) do not like to be taken advantage of (yet, they can distribute it and not think twice), find this to be the MOST IRRITATING, HORRIBLE action ever, and start screaming from the rooftops “Yay, now, oh unfair beast! Giveth back my art-eth, you JERK-eth!” And then the mini-tantrums come. And uproars and chaos reigns.

So, by allowing kids to have their say in the Privacy Policy & Site Rules… it gives them the opportunity to safe-guard themselves and their worries.

b) Instead of engaging the community to write their “own bill” (which can be predicted from the start by professionals), GoPets could have just grabbed a Creative Commons License, and avoided the whole “tell us what you think” mess. But what hazzah would that illicit from the users? What “look at us, we truly care!” slogan would the company be able to shout?

Exactly. Give. And. Take.

Users get a voice. Users are lulled into thinking they’ve developed a new nation, a new ideal, safeguarded themselves, and pride in safeguarding the environment & their fellow community. Gryffindors the whole lot of ’em.

Company gets to send out “look at us, we’re awesome” press releases. They get a boost in stats from a dedicated community. They get a more detailed explanation from their community directed AT their community (how can a community complain if they’re the ones dictating their own rules?)

Everyone wins. Yay. And PR high fives Community.

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