Alright, so it's not quite Azeroth, but girls who log onto Mattel's new Barbie Girls online community can play games, chat and "hang out" with other tween-ish participants, which sounds just as good preparation as any for the chaos that they'll soon be able to experience (as in, as soon as the parents' credit card gives the green light) in more "mature" communities such as WoW, Second Life and the upcoming PlayStation Home. Girls can naturally customize and accessorize their avatars, with up to 2.64 quadrillion combinations available, and "B Chat" with one another in a moderated and as-safe-as-reasonably-possible environment. In July, Mattel will launch a companion Barbie Girl MP3 player, which will allow girls who have met in person and synced the player with each other's computer to participate in "Secret B Chat," which allows more privacy and more open conversation. The $60 device includes 512MB of memory and a miniSD expansion slot, and unlocks additional content for the girls, alongside $10 accessory packs that we're sure will make similar methods of extortion, such as the Oblivion "horse armor" incident, seem positively generous in comparison.

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