Posted in Animal Jam, Club Penguin, Disney, gaming, kids, online community, Safety/Privacy, tween, virtual worlds, Webkinz

Virtual Worlds Mgmt 101

Izzy Neis and I worked on a primer of kids virtual worlds that we could share with people.  Kind of a what’s good about them, what difficult about them, what they are and are not. Enjoy.

And as I was uploading this one, I saw this fantastically designed on on Slideshare as well.  Guess which one of us has access to graphic designers 😛

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Posted in Club Penguin, Disney, gaming, kids, marketing, online advertising, online community, television, trends, tween, virtual worlds, web business, Webkinz

My talk at Pratt

Hi All,

I was asked to do a short talk at Pratt Institute, so I decided to share my slides.  Basically I wanted to have a short visual aid to a myriad of mainstream, large and successful properties and brands that did/do well interacting and connecting with their audience through online community and fan engagement .

Let me know if you would like more info or examples or if you have any questions.

Posted in Club Penguin, Disney, gaming, marketing, online community, Safety/Privacy, virtual worlds, Webkinz

KIDS AND PARENTS PLAYING TOGETHER ONLINE: THE NEXT FRONTIER OF CASUAL GAMING

http://www.edge-online.com/features/gdc-bringing-families-together-with-video-games

Jessee Schell
– toy story mania ride
– pixie hollow
– toon town
– pirates

10 things to try to achieve:

1. You have to decide to design for both kids and parents

2. Find themes that both kids and parents care about

– Toon Town’s executives takeover theme – work/play tension
– Last child in the woods – nature – offline tasks
– Nostaligia bridges generation gap – children want to learn about their parent’s childhoods

3. Understand what family wants and provide it

– Families want shared experiences and shared accomplishments
– Parents want to feel that they provided meaningful and useful experiences
– Parents also just want to feel like they provided
– Kids want to be more emotionally connected to their families
– Both kids nad parents want to connect to distant relatives

4. Parents want to teach & kids want to learn

– Adult jokes are teaching/learning opportunities
– Need situations where kids are in over their head where the parents can save them
– Opportunities for kids to brag/show off

5. Co-opt existing roles for quick immersion

– Parent’s understand how to buy a doll, that’s why Webkinz had a big jump off

6. Reverse roles to delight everyone

– Everyone wants a break
– when child’s skills surpasses parent’s – it’s a landmark moment

7. Consider Gender Issues

– There are 12 POV in a 4 person household (Dad, Mom, Sis, Bro)
– Make play patterns to facilitate

8. Deciding to pay is collaborative

– Club Penguin – elastic Velvet rope – effectively teasing enough in a free-to-play situation
– Mailers in Toontown gave the impression of value add

9. Safety is paramount

This is where Mr Schell’s up-to-this-point wonderful talk went off the rails for me.  Instead, he decided to perpetuate the culture of fear mongering that is so popular to do nowadays when discussing children in the online space.  Instead of going off on the rant that this point caused from me, I will just leave this point as the title, and move on. grumble…

10. Design for the family as well as for the individual
– Design to let them connect with one another
– Families are busy now
– Connection btwn parents and kids is a stoong emotional bond.  Leverage it.

Posted in Club Penguin, Disney, gaming, kids, online community, tween, virtual worlds

GREAT video on the value of kids virtual worlds

Go now and watch the Fast Company video from these posts. No, I’ll wait. The whole thing too, it’s all good.

http://www.virtualworldsnews.com/2008/04/video-disney-on.html
OR here
http://redcouch.typepad.com/weblog/2008/04/ive-said-it-bef.html

Well done Disney. Slow hard clap. I virtually shake your hand.

There are some days when I am so proud of what I do. These sorts of videos are the ones I have to watch when I am not having one of those days. 😉 I just wish I saw it when it was originally posted…

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Posted in Club Penguin, Disney, gaming, kids, marketing, mobile, MySpace, Nick, online advertising, online community, television, trends, tween, virtual worlds, web business, Webkinz, z friends

Proactive online content for kids

Those of us who understand the positive aspects of online play need to help shape the climate online in the next couple years. Gone are the days of bragging about how your child knows so much more about technology/computers/internet than you do. More and more of our lives are being spent online. Let’s treat that sea change with a bit more respect than simple awe/wonder.

If we don’t want EVERY brand space online to be blatant consumerism with no message or goal, we have to be proactive about preventing that from happening. We must work toward not just calling out the bad sites, but creating and commending the good sites. And not just ones that give lip-service to more holistic goals – ones that actually step up and do it.

I ducked out of the Kids and Teens talk at the Virtual Worlds conference last week in order to see a young girl doll brand case study. Oy vey, was that a hard one to sit through. The developer giving the talk continually talked sarcastically about the girly brand that he developed, which showed me that he didn’t respect the audience and community the site was trying to develop. How can you create a great community if you don’t care about them?

Through his talk, he talked a couple times about the core values of “Empowerment” etc that the site’s founders wanted to convey in the virtual world. But almost in the same breath, he would reiterate multiple times that the only purpose for the site was to “sell more dolls.” Makes you wonder if the brand managers of those dolls know and care how their brand is being conveyed to conference audiences and their online community.

If “to sell more dolls” is truly the reason that the parent company wanted to launch this world, fine. They certainly are not alone. But that doesn’t mean all the other sites that will be developed in this category have to be like that.

Sesame Street’s Panwapa world is a cool approach to get into a space that is bound to be crowded in the next 2 years – preschool to early readers, 4-7 year olds. Kudos to them for being there before anyone else with a solid idea for a world (and not just the mindless wandering and silly games that make up almost every world in this space).

Whether we like it or not, a child is assimilated into the tech space earlier and earlier as the years go by. To pretend that this isn’t happening or block the kids from sites on a micro level is not the way to improve the situation. It’s the ostrich effect and doesn’t improve anything for anyone, especially the kids.

People who grew up with technology are now having kids. These younger generation parents have less or no aversion to introducing their kids to the online/tech coolness that they have grown up with. As producers of content (be it for a marketing purpose or pure creative), we have to develop for the parents AND the kids. These younger parents will still want the educational aspects that the past decade of attentive parents wanted, but the younger parents understand all of this on another level. Many of them understand that you can have fun, build relationships, and develop as a human online. They also understand the importance of design, navigation and user interface in your online experience. AND they will, directly or indirectly, teach these concepts to their kids.

Hopefully the content will start to catch up with paradigm shift that is happening world-wide as I type. Is your content up to the task?

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Posted in Club Penguin, Disney, gaming, kids, marketing, mobile, MySpace, Nick, online community, trends, tween, web business, Webkinz

Virtual Worlds Forum Interview

Lizzie: What do you think draws children towards immersive environments and virtual worlds?

Joi: I think role playing, that playset, that play house thing and
that play pattern has always been there. And I think what’s happening
now is that technology is just allowing that experience to be played
out in a different way…Allowing them to go into those virtual worlds
and actually be that character, be the doll, be whoever they were going
to be as opposed to just holding the dolls and playing so….

Lizzie: This is a natural extension?

Joi: I would say so…I think virtual worlds are very much at the
beginning and of course kids are always right there in all the stuff.
Kids are always right there, right at the beginning when something
comes out. I don’t think the virtual worlds that are out right now have
really figured it out. I think there’s a lot of room for improvement.

Lizzie: What needs to be there to get children going?

Joi: I definitely think games…I think the video games right now,
especially the first person, real time, strategy type of things? Those
ones are really hitting it…If you need that complete immersion you
definitely have to have game play, you definitely have to have
interaction between the users, they have to communicate with each other
and not be hindered by a specific list of words or pre-defined chat.

Lizzie: Should businesses launch their own virtual worlds?

Joi: Is your audience, you know, screaming they want to get to that next level or is it just because it’s in the news right now? I think there’s a lot of those really basic questions that people have skipped over. Do you need a virtual world? How are you going to justify the costs? These are questions…I don’t see people having those kinds of conversations. I think the hype is making people skip some basic strategy questions.

Virtual Worlds Forum Blog » Blog Archive » Interview with Joi Podgorny

Even though my name is spelled wrong (the “r n” DOES look like a “m”) and I have a tendency to say “you know” way to much, still fun to show off another interview.  🙂

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