Get a ‘Pet,’ Find a Friend and Save Some Lives—All From Home


By John Maloy

June 1, 2006


In April of this year, donated $1,000 to The Cambodia Daily Mosquito Net Campaign and will shortly be showcasing ways to continue making such donations to charities through contributions by its thousands of online users and their cyber pets.

At GoPets you can create a pet— say, a cat or a dog—and let them wander the Internet as your own furry diplomat in making new friends.

The GoPets online community works along the same lines as Friendster, but with the added twist of users being able to create a personalized dog or cat to link the user to the rest of the community.

Pets “live” on a computer desktop but have the ability to wander freely to connect with friends or seek out people with similar interests.

Significant parts of the GoPets experience revolve around personalizing one’s pet and obtaining items to trade with other users.

These items can be bought at the many stores on the Web site, and GoPets has even developed its own virtual currency for this purpose.

GoPets currency consists of three types of shells, two of which users can obtain for free. However, to purchase high-end items from the stores users have to buy “gold shells” at a rate of 10 shells for about $1.

Later this month, GoPets plans to introduce two new items in its virtual shopping stores—a traditional straw hat and a sarong—that can only be purchased with gold shells.

But for each item sold, which will cost 20 shells, or about $2, GoPets will donate $0.50 to the mosquito net campaign.

Gustaf Leksell, manager of charity at GoPets, said via e-mail that the people at GoPets “thought that it was amazing that we could help save so many lives for so few dollars.

“We started to take an interest in [the mosquito net campaign] and our users loved the idea to be able to give back by playing their favorite game,” he said. Currently, GoPets users are permitted to sell items in their own virtual stores, and Leksell says that a large percentage of exchanges in the GoPets universe are between members of the community.

GoPets has decided to take advantage of this feature by soon allowing users the choice of having a portion of their own personal sales go to charity. “[T]his change will really make a difference since the users themselves will be able to act on their own without any help from us,” Leksell wrote.

Additionally, GoPets plans to unveil a charity page on the Web site in the next few weeks. This page will provide information on the charities GoPets supports as well as providing a way for users to make donations directly.

“In the end,” Leksell writes, “we all here at GoPets hope that the money we raise...will make an important difference for the people in the malaria stricken areas of Cambodia.”

With 350,000-plus users and an additional 30,000 joining each month, GoPets stands a good chance of doing just that.