The Internet has opened new ways to meet and get to know people like never before. Social networking Web sites are popping up to cater to all types of tastes and preferences. There are sites for dating such as eHarmony, sites for users with similar interests and hobbies such as CarDomain, and sites for, well, just plain-old social networking such as Facebook, MySpace and more recently Twitter. Video sites like YouTube have been a tremendous step toward self expression and a means for people to reach out to others interested in seeing what their imaginations can cook up.
One such site is Subeta, a social networking Web site on which users create human avatars that care for and interact with virtual pets. The site was created by Keith Kurson in 2006 and runs with the help of volunteers and a few paid staff members. Subeta is a virtual pet site with more than 150,000 registered users that gives members the ability to own and care for several pets while simulating the everyday rigors of keeping them healthy, feeding them and maintaining their health.
In this article, you'll find out about the features and resources found in Subeta, as well as some of the hurdles, including the infection that turned many users' avatars into zombies. Subeta is designed as a Web site for younger people to use to network with others from across the world. Subeta can teach some practical principles such as money management and marketing; however, it also has a darker side, which might give some users pause.
On the next page, we'll take a look at the basics of Subeta and learn how to get started.
Even though the site is aimed at young people, you don't have to be a teen to enjoy Subeta. Members are required to be older than 13 or have parental consent to join the site. It's free to join, but for a monetary donation, you can upgrade to a gold account with additional features.
Each user who signs up can have up to five virtual pets, while gold account members can have up to 10 -- they can get another 10 virtual pets with the use of the Mystical Montre Plushie or Mystical Donadak Plushie. Both can be purchased from the Cash Shop, from other users in the Trade Center or acquired in auctions. Once you sign up for your regular account, you are awarded 5,000 Subeta points or sPs. SPs are the currency used throughout the site to purchase items for your pets. Users spend sPs to adopt pets, customize their attributes and participate in the various areas of the site.
Users must feed and play with their pets to maintain their health and intelligence, and each pet can have its own minion or play friend. There are several ways to earn Subeta points, including playing games, taking surveys and what may be the most common method through a process referred to as restocking. Restocking is the ability for users to create their own one-stop shop for other players throughout the site. Players can visit other player's shops and purchase items for their use. It's sort of like a legal black market system. Or maybe it's just capitalism at its finest. Whatever you want to call it, most Subeta users predominately use restocking as their primary source of income.
Members can also chat with other users or join discussions in one of the several forums. If you'd like, you can even join or start your very own Cult. Cults are small subgroups anyone can belong to. A user who likes a certain type of music, like punk rock, for instance, might start a Cult based on that preference. Other users with like interests may chose to join the Cult to streamline their time on the site and meet others.
Visually speaking, Subeta's youthful feel and rudimentary appearance works for some, but can turn away users looking for a higher level of design. Subeta avatars are anime characters and the pets are loosely based on either real-life or mythical creatures.
Every so often, events occur throughout the site that can adversely affect pets and human avatars. As you'll learn in the next section, one such event is still having lasting affects. If you're not afraid of zombies, continue on to the next page and read about an infection that created quite a stir on the Subeta site.
On Feb.14, 2009 -- Valentines Day -- an event referred to as the Love Epidemic spread throughout Subeta. Human avatars came down with one of four strains of an infection that went through eight stages and dramatically changed their appearances. Users caught either the Love Leopard where hearts spread across the body like the measles; a Love Bite, that would grow infected with time; the Foot Burn, a rash that originated at the feet before spreading over the entire body or Boob-itis, a condition where a small mark on the chest would grow into a gaping hole, exposing the heart and rib cage. Once the avatar reached stage seven or eight of the infection, they were considered zombies.
Three medications, all of which could be purchased within the game, were found to aid in recovery, but each had side affects and none were proven to cure the ailments. Lovitol made the faces red and swollen, hyperamory inducer turned the eyes red and resulted in a pink, gooey discharge and amoricide resulted in a purple cloud over the face.
The cure eventually came from a non-player character named Louis L'amour. Dubbed Lamouracillin, the antidote was available for the cost of 10 candy hearts. In order to obtain candy hearts, users had to complete several Valentine's quests, which took about one hour each. In an unexpected turn of events, the zombie avatars became wildly popular among users. In fact, many chose to allow their avatars to remain infected.
In line with the zombie theme, Subeta users can apply blood-red coloring to their pets to give them a gruesome appearance. In addition, users can choose to make their pets look like zombies if they choose. Many of the human avatars on Subeta message boards have gothic appearances suggesting that many of these users may be in tune with the "emo" subculture. It's not uncommon to run across suggestive sexual anime characters and artwork in some Subeta user profiles.
While the Love Epidemic left some users zombies, and there is a fair bit of gore in Subeta, that doesn't mean users aren't getting some benefit out of the social networking site. On the next page, we'll take a look at how teens may actually be preparing for life after high school using some of the things they learn in Subeta.
Benefits of Subeta
As a virtual pet site, Subeta appeals more to a younger group of users than a site more targeted to adults. On Subeta, there are loads of activities to choose from and like other online networking communities, Subeta has its own audience. In this case, it offers young teens and adults the opportunity to network with others who share an interest in owning virtual pets. As a result, younger users have the opportunity to meet people from different regions of the world. Of course, safety can be a concern, as it's impossible to tell who is on the other side of a human avatar; however, that can be said for virtually every other Web site, too.
Perhaps the most appealing aspect of Subeta is the practical knowledge users gain with extensive game playing and virtual interaction with their pets. Subeta users learn to use currency, how to buy and sell merchandise, how to manage inventory and how to deal with a being that's dependent upon their every move. As users achieve more feats on the site, their profile gains credibility. A sort of online community government forms after users become well-established. Virtual online hierarchies are formed and players will often find themselves aligning with or gravitating toward certain influential users.
Subeta may not be for everyone. Some players may find some of the material questionable, or even objectionable. And it's not uncommon to see pets throughout the site that resemble something from the movie "Dawn of the Dead." Subeta is a showcase of self-expression, and sometimes resembles an underground art scene. Users aren't afraid to express their tastes for gore and sexuality. If these things offend you, Subeta is probably not the right social networking venue for you.
That said, there's still plenty of room for casual players strictly interested in socializing with other virtual pet owners. And the Cults offer exclusivity for users who like a more specialized interest and want other like-minded players to network with. Just remember, the Cults are often invitation-only, which can lead to some tension if someone is denied access.
Like all online networking communities, Subeta is a Web site that relies on self governance to keep people in accordance with the rules and site's bylaws. That's where things can get a bit tricky. The site's staff and moderators are responsible for monitoring activity within the various forums and areas of the site. Since many of these moderators are young volunteers, poor judgment can sometimes trump objective thinking. On several occasions, users have criticized Subeta for preferential treatment of other users.
Like every Web community, not everyone on Subeta gets along. Nonetheless, Subeta has a great many fans among all kinds of people on the Internet.
For more information on social networking sites and related topics, take a look at the links on the next page.
Related HowStuffWorks Articles
- Subeta. (June 5, 2009) http://www.subeta.net/
- Subeta Cheats and News. "Up Close and Personal with Keith Kurson." Oct. 16, 2007. (June 7, 2009) http://www.pinkpt.com/subeta/up-close-and-personal-with-keith-kurson/