Posted in gaming, kids, marketing, online community, Safety/Privacy, tween, virtual worlds

National Geographic Animal Jam – Open Beta!

Hey everyone!

The reason I haven’t posted in forever is because I am hard at work on our newly launched project (albeit in open beta) National Geographic Animal Jam!

The day is finally here to live wild with National Geographic Animal Jam™. Now you and your kids can be among the first to monkey around in this virtual world of discovery and fun. Combining the chance for kids to be the animal of their choice with access to National Geographic’s limitless libraries, National Geographic Animal Jam will open your child’s eyes to a world of adventure and exploration like no other virtual world out there. Your kids will soon realize that they’re having tons of fun in the coolest jungle around!

Two years in the making, National Geographic Animal Jam represents an ongoing creative collaboration between the great minds at National Geographic and the gaming gurus at Smart Bomb Interactive. The goal of this virtual world is to provide a fun, exciting, and safe environment for kids to play online, as well as inspire them to explore and protect the natural world outside their doors.

So come prowl around inside National Geographic Animal Jam. With lush tropical kingdoms, amazing adventures, and fascinating facts in store—plus the chance to live it up as your favorite animal—mommy and daddy bears (and their cubs alike) will find a wild world worth discovering!

National Geographic Animal Jam – Jump into the Jungle Today!

We are tweaking and polishing through the summer, and as such, it is completely free to play through the open beta! When we have our Grand Opening this fall, we will offer premium subscription content, but the game will always have free to play features.

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Posted in kids, online community, Safety/Privacy, trends

LITTLE HANDS, FOUL MOODS, RUNNY NOSES 3: RESEARCH FOR DEVELOPING KID-FRIENDLY SOCIAL GAMING EXPERIENCES

SPEAKER/S: Carla Engelbrecht Fisher (Teachers College, Columbia University)

SLIDES from her blog

5-6 is when kids have more motor skills and can start to understand dispersion

Displacement effect – if they are playing games, they are not homework, hanging with others etc

Tight racer – multi-player game

Preschool

Zone of Proximal Development – if I play with a partner, they will help bring me to their level, scaffolding

Hidden Park – iphone app

Panwapa

Super Mario Bros Wii is collaboratively like LBP

Middle Childhood – 5-8, 8-12

amanda project
clever hive

2 types of friendships
– aggregate – what the masses think
– dyadic – resciprocal

There is research saying that if a kid knows the kids they go to kindergarden withm, they will be more successful

Highlights answers EVERY letter that is sent ot them.

multi-player games have an effect of increasing offline social games

urban v rural comepteitive

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 gaming, kids, online community, Safety/Privacy, virtual worlds

Dir of Community Engagement for National Geographic’s Animal Jam

It’s true!  I got a fantastic opportunity to work with an insanely talented team of designers on one of the country’s most beloved brands, National Geographic.  The game is out this summer and it’s BEAUTIFUL.  So excited, stay tuned for updates.  😀

Joi Podgorny Joins National Geographic’s Animal Jam Team

Online Child Safety Veteran to Lead Community Engagement in New Virtual World

Washington, DC and Salt Lake City, UT (PRWEB) January 25, 2010 — Smart Bomb Interactive announced today that Joi Podgorny has joined the company as the Director of Community Engagement for National Geographic’s Animal Jam, an online virtual world for kids 5-9 launching in the summer of 2010. In her new role, Podgorny will architect and oversee all aspects of community management for Animal Jam, with the goal of creating an online destination that is an industry leader in child safety, parental engagement, and pure fun.

“This team and this project are a perfect fit for me,” said Podgorny. “Kids who love animals are going to be immersed in a fascinating virtual world of unprecedented depth, and they’ll be part of an online community that parents can feel good about letting their children explore. “

Podgorny is considered one of the industry’s foremost experts in online community and children’s marketing, specifically in the under-13-year-old demographics. Her management and production accomplishments range across six international children’s entertainment properties. She most recently served as Head of Community for Mind Candy, where she oversaw phenomenal growth in the user community of moshimonsters.com. She is a frequent contributor to conferences and forums on online child safety and digital engagement with children.

http://www.prweb.com/releases/2010/01/prweb3503254.htm

Posted in kids, Safety/Privacy

zip it, block it and flag it

Children will be taught to “zip it, block it and flag it,” under a new code for internet safety to be taught in every primary school in England from the age of five.

For the first time, web safety skills will be a compulsory part of the curriculum to help tackle the problem of cyber-bullying and online grooming by paedophiles.

The plans, launched by the prime minister in London today, come after a major review of online safety by the child psychologist Tanya Byron, and were drawn up by the UK Council for Child Internet Safety.

The “zip it, block it, flag it” code is based on the green cross code. Children will be advised not to disclose personal information, to block contact from people who are bullying or harassing them, and to flag up any problems up to parents, teachers or website providers.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/dec/08/code-online-safety

Love it.  Like “Stop, Drop & Roll” but on the internet.  😀

Posted in gaming, kids, mobile, online community, Safety/Privacy, trends, virtual worlds, web business

Kids Online Unconference ’09

I helped promote the second Kids Online unconference again and am so happy with the conversations that we all had.  I wanted to share the conversations we had.

We used the hashtag #kidsonline if you want to check out the tweets.

I have a collaborative google doc of notes. Please feel free to check it out and/or add to it.

I also tried my first streamed video (audio is poor for many of the talks, but if you listen hard, you can hear us).  It’s broken into 3 videos, each rather long.  And the video sometimes doesn’t match with the audio.  But I tried, right?

I know there were talks at the end about having another one of these next year.  If you are interested, let me know and I can let the rest of the organizers know.

ALSO… I want to start roaming cocktail parties where we can all get together and talk shop about the kids online industry.  We have a listserv that you should signup for if you are interested in knowing when the next one is (or starting one of your own)

Posted in kids, marketing, online advertising, online community, Safety/Privacy, virtual worlds, web business

2 golden nuggets from Liisa’s firm

Maine Kid’s Privacy Law Takes Effect September 12

As we have previously reported, the Maine governor signed a new law that: (1) puts an absolute prohibition on using personal information of a minor to market to the minor or to promote any course of action regarding a product to a minor – whether parental permission has been obtained or not and whether you know the person’s age or not; and (2) prohibits knowingly collecting personal information from children in Maine under 18 for “marketing purposes,” without first obtaining parental consent. The prohibited activity of using a minor’s personal information seems to be broadly drafted, and may include not just email and text messages sent to children in Maine – including those between 13 and 17, but also marketing messages sent directly to a child through social networking websites like Facebook and Twitter. It’s possible that it could also prohibit analyzing and internally using a minor’s personal information to determine how to market to individuals generally. The prohibition on collecting information for “marketing purpose” is similarly broad. Unfortunately, the exact meaning of the law is subject to multiple interpretations. The law allows not only for the Maine Attorney General to bring actions for violations, but also allows for a private right of action. Although many have objected to the law, an immediate delay or modification does not appear on the horizon. TIP: If you have an ongoing promotion, consider how you will address the eligibility requirements (for example, prohibiting all persons under 18, persons from the state of Maine who are under 18, voiding to Maine residents, or having a verifiable parental consent mechanism). If you do not currently collect date of birth for your marketing activities, consider doing so, or voiding Maine residents. For your existing database, consider separating out those who are under 18 and reside in Maine, and be sure not to send marketing materials to them.

For more tips, see our bulletin at: http://www.winston.com/siteFiles/Publications/4_ME_Tips.html.

Linking to a Non-Compliant Website Is a Violation of CARU Guidelines

The Children’s Advertising Review Unit (“CARU”) recently found that Kidz Bop LLC violated the CARU Guidelines when it contained a link on the Kidz Bop website to a website which allowed the collection of personally identifiable information from children without fully complying with CARU guidelines. The non-compliant website did not implement a neutral age-screening mechanism to filter children under 13, and various areas of the site collected personally identifiable information. CARU found that Kidz Bop could reasonably expect children under 13 to visit their website and CARU guidelines specifically provide that operators of websites which are for children or contain areas for children should not knowingly link to other websites that do not comply with CARU guidelines. In addition, the Kidz Bop website privacy policy did not include Kidz Bop’s contact information, as required by the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.

TIP: If you operate a website which is likely to appeal to children under the age of 13, ensure that your website is compliant with CARU Guidelines, including removing any links to websites which you know are not in compliance with the Guidelines.

Got these from The Winston & Strawn email newsletter.  To subscribe for yourself, go here:

http://www.winston.com/index.cfm?contentid=170

Posted in marketing, online community, Safety/Privacy, traveling, web business

OCS09 – Are you going?

The Online Community Summit will be held October 8th & 9th in Sonoma, CA. It is hard to believe that the Online Community Summit is now in it’s eight year!

The Summit was originally convened by Jim Cashel of Forum One in October of 2001 as a unique invitation-based event, bringing together thought leaders from business, government, finance, academia and the media, who despite different positions share a keen interest in online group collaboration. Each year we gather a select group of senior online community professionals to discuss topics addressing business strategy, emerging technologies, key trends, as well as many tactical issues during the breakout sessions.

This year, I will be hosting the Summit, along with co-host Joi Podgorny, Head of Community at Mind Candy. Joi is an online community expert with areas of expertise in virtual worlds and online experiences for children.

Online Community Summit 2009 – Initial Topics & Session Leads

Really excited to be helping out with this this year.  Love this event and always leave excited and invigorated. 🙂

Posted in gaming, kids, online community, Safety/Privacy, traveling, virtual worlds

Did I tell you about my new job?

So most of you who read this know already, but if you don’t, I got a new job!  And its in London! Working with a fantastic people at a fantastic company who I have been a fan of for years! Exclamation points are fun!

Moshi Monsters!

I am the new Head of Community at Mind Candy, makers of the wonderfully addictive Moshi Monsters.  We are experiencing terrific growth in our traffic and subsequent community, thanks to aforementioned addictive quality of the game, as well as due to the super powers of our Marketing team.  My job is to make sure the kiddos (and grown up fans) stay safe, have fun, and keep on playing.  Cool, eh?

If you don’t already have a Monster of you own, go NOW and adopt one.  If you become a member you get access to even more cool stuff.  And once you have one, become friends with my Moshi.  It’s name is Fizmo (bonus points to those of you who know where that name comes from 😉 )

My Moshi - Fizmo

You have been warned.  This is gonna be big. 😉

Posted in gaming, kids, marketing, mobile, online community, Safety/Privacy, television, tween, virtual worlds

Kids Online unconference – May 31

Hi all –

First of many plugs about the Kids Online Unconference that is happening the day before the Ypulse Youth Mashup. The whole thing is 5/31/09-6/2/09, but come to what you can.

We need to start getting a headcount, so if you could let myself or any of the other coordinators know if you are planning on attending, that would be great!

To sign up for the listserv we have set up, go to this link http://lists.idcommons.net/lists/info/kidsonline and click the “Subscribe” link.

Thanks!