Subetax was a virtual pet site that appealed to the younger audience more than a website that was designed to target adults would. The Subetax community had a lot of different activities users could participate in, and it had an audience of its own just like every other online networking community. There was the ability to offer teens and adults a chance to connect with people who share their interests – particularly owning virtual pets. The result was that young people were afforded the chance to connect with people from all around the world. Safety was going to be a concern of course, because there is was telling who was really behind a human avatar, but you can say that about any website. There are fake profiles on every single networking site, including social media.
One of the most appealing aspects to Subetax was that the practical knowledge was passed on to users through extensively playing the game and interacting virtually with their pets. It taught users about how to use money, including how to buy and sell their own merchandise, manage their inventory, and deal with something that is dependent on them entirely. After a community such as this one becomes established, they begin to form their own online community government.
This leads to the creation of hierarchies as players start to align with users that share their interests or are seen as being influential. In a way that’s just like the way the world of celebrities and politics works. You’d be surprised what you can learn from something that sounds as simple as a virtual pet.
Not everyone saw the appeal of Subetax however. Some people felt that the content of the website was a little questionable, if not objectionable. There was also the “problem” of seeing pets that look like they belong in a zombie movie and not in a game catered towards children. Even so, it was a true showcase of the power of self-expression. There were times when the website could feel more akin to underground art. The users of the website didn’t shy away from their need to express their sexuality and their love of gore.
Even so, there was a lot of room for the casual player who just wanted to socialize and connect to other virtual pet owners. The Cults were there to cater to users who had specialized interests and wanted to connect to other players. Cults places were invite-only and this sometimes created some tension if a user was told they couldn’t join the Cult.
Self Governance and Eventual Demise
As is the case with other online networking communities, the subetax community relied heavily on self-governance and users keeping each other in check with the bylaws and rules of the site. Sometimes things can get a little tricky in that regard. The site had moderators and staff that were responsible for keeping an eye on the website, including the forums. Unfortunately a lot of these moderators were young volunteers. They may not have had the objective thinking skills necessary for moderation and would make the occasional poor judgement. There had been several occasions where the staff of the site have faced accusations of favoritism and giving some users preferential treatment.
It wasn’t a place where everyone got on perfectly. And indeed a person believed to have been upset over the use of a character caused major amounts of grief for the website and the owner who did not have the required resources to take the hacker out. Nonetheless, the game is active on another domain now and is still highly active.