January 8, 2010

Fashionably Friday: Style Lab

Part of the joy of making jewelry, or even buying jewelry, is getting your hands on it. I have had so many customers ask to first "see" some of my pieces before they decide to buy because they "want to touch it." Though I have done my fair share of buying supplies online, there is something to be said for finding an awesome piece in a store, putting your hands on it, examining it in person with your eyes, holding it up to your ears or neck or next to other supplies, and deciding that you can't leave without it! That said, I was a little concerned when I first heard of "Style Lab." Don't know what it is, either? In short, it's a game for the hand-held Nintendo DS that has teamed up with my favorite online jewelry supply distributor, ArtBeads, which gives you the "chance" to "design" your own jewelry with ArtBeads supplies. Real ArtBeads supplies that are photographed, and, in the words of the game's description, "manipulated," can be put together on the screen and made into designs of the player's choosing. Additionally, "The game features a retail-based storyline in which players take on the challenges of running their own jewelry boutique. As they complete designs for their clientele, the boutiques will blossom and more customers will come to commission new work." Take a look:
As if that's not,
ummm, interesting enough, girls can then upload their pictures and place their designs on their own faces and necks. If she (or he, no need to hate!) likes it, they can then send money to ArtBeads, where their staff will then create the piece based on the animated design and send it to the gal.
I don't mean to be a hater. I think it's great to get girls - and boys! - in the mindset where creativity is nurtured and explored. But is this really the best way to go? How many more computer screens will replace hands-on creativity? Why place another barrier between you and raw creation? Furthermore, the players only "design" their jewelry, they don't even get the satisfaction of actually making it with their own hands! And speaking from experience, though I LOVE ArtBeads, their supplies can add up quickly. Financially, I mean. If Little Miss Molly makes an exclusively Swarovski Crystal necklace for herself, and then has to pay for the staff at ArtBeads to construct it and ship it, you are looking at a (minimum) $75 piece of jewelry! And for what - so you can say that Molly "created" it? Stepping down off my soap-box now. Actually, no, I still have more thoughts! On the plus side, this game might be a great TOOL for envisioning jewelry when you don't have all the pieces in front of you. I have personally copied and pasted some bead product photos and photo-shopped them next to each other to "see" what they would look like as a finished piece. But if ArtBeads were really thinking about integrating technology to their full advantage, they would offer this component to anyone as a way of increasing their site traffic and eventual sales (at least I think it would be a smart move). Charging Molly $30 for the game, plus the $130+ it cost for the gaming system in the first place, plus the fee to have the staff assemble your piece, the supplies, and the shipping, you could just as well buy all the supplies you wanted and play with the components in person! Is this game thus enabling Molly's creativity or inhibiting it? Ok, now it's your turn on the soap-box, lovies. I want to hear what you think - the good, the bad, and the ugly. And don't worry, you won't hurt my feelings. I would have made a horrible reporter anyway - my opinion prevents any chance at objectivity!


  1. I get where you're coming from, I do. However, I have to add that I have BOXES upon BOXES of craft supplies from my childhood, from things that I lost interest in along the way, or crafts that I was way too ambitious about. Now, if I had a system like this already, and my parents bought the $30 game for me, it'd probably be cheaper in the long run than buying me a ton of beading tools and supplies for necklaces I might not create after all. Also, I like the "retail" aspect of the game, it makes me think a little of Lemonade Stand, that computer game we played in grade school. It didn't preclude us from trying out hand at an actual lemonade stand down the road, but it gave us a little bit of "experience" in a retail capacity, in a simple way. I agree that this is a ridiculous way to actually let your kid design a necklace for herself (or himself!), but as a way to explore the combinations and supplies, in addition to the retail aspect, in a totally portable way, I think it's not a terrible idea.

  2. I had not heard of that game! Yes, interesting idea but I agree with you on all fronts. Thanks for sharing this! I enjoy your Fashionably Friday posts greatly!


  3. I think the game is a good way to introduce younger kids to creating jewelry who may not have had the opportunity otherwise. Its also portable so they can play where they wouldn't be able to make jewelry.

    It's definitely one of the more creativity-driven DS games out there and the story is pretty cute.

  4. I don't like that fact that "they" are making everyting for kids in the form of a GAME! I think this sets an alarming precedent. You present the facts, about actual hands on experience---trial and error and satisifaction. Thanks!

  5. Crazy! I never heard of this game. I've heard of the Brain Age one and the pet dog one...but never jewelry! Neato :)

  6. The best of both worlds is to have the game and also some supplies to do hands-on creation!