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Stories of web services that are using "fun as a frame"

Stories of web services that are using "fun as a frame"

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  • 1. Brand parasites and gaming lifestyle [email_address] June 2008
  • 2. Introduction
    • I have been researching & developing new types of web services and studying how various (informative and instructional) services for youth are moving to the web. I have also been working with associations and organizations who have understood the potential of utilizing ”fun as a frame” when offering more serious content in online communities. This presentations will focus on such brand parasites and lessons learned from their pioneer activity.
  • 3.
    • Currently the discussion on youth and digital media is biased. Some parties try to protect children where as the others try to go with the flow and utilize services and virtual worlds that are already inhabitated by children and youth.
    • This slide set will present stories of some successful experiments of turning e.g. drug prevention or youth services into virtual services in Finland.
  • 4. Attitude towards the web are often very biased Some actors are willing to utilize existing services or create their own ones. The other extrimity tries to restrain or limit the use of the net because there are potentially harmful material online. Such persons don’t understand that web is already crucial part of being young and growing up. Denial or limitations do not do the trick.
  • 5. Definitions
    • Brand parasite is a sub-service that depends on mother (online) service without reciprocating in business. It is referring to novel type of online business actors. The sub-services grow, feed, and are sheltered on or in a different web service while contributing (functionally or logistically) nothing to the survival of its host.
    • Usually the mother service is a brand with identified symbol or mark that distinguishes it from its competitors. Brand draw customers to the service. Brands are regulatory authority and cannot be used (utilized) by other parties except brand parasites who live inside the mother service. For many products and companies, branding is an essential part of marketing, that is the same reason brand parasites exists in online communities (such as Habbo and Second Life).
  • 6. Definitions
    • Gaming lifestyle developed when gaming become more common in digital youth cultures. Gaming lifestyle contains expectation towards more serious or boring content. Users expect experiences and fun and often more serious content is framed with fun. Gamers add gaming to part of the entertainment experience. It becomes part of a "normal" life.
    • What separates a normal gamer from someone who uses gaming as a basis for a lifestyle is that the former plays games because of their values or attitudes, while the latter play life because of their gaming based values or attitudes. Having gaming as a lifestyle is about taking the medium beyond its place in a normal life, and extending it into one’s activities outside the virtual realm.
    • [Partical source: David Supina:]
  • 7. Stories of brand parasites and the utilization of gaming lifestyle
  • 8. Youth department (city of Helsinki)
  • 9. The story of Netari (virtual youth house at Habbo)
    • Two youth workers from Helsinki (Sebastian Sihvola and Tero Huttunen) noticed increasing interest towards digital games and the net at youth houses
    • At the beginning of 2003 they were discussing:
      • Should youth houses be equipped with computers?
      • Should they arrange LAN parties at the youth house?
    • They realized that youth workers went to the malls in the 1970s because youth hang around there. In 2000 youth hang around online, it was clear that youth work should move to the web
    • But should there be online youth house?
    • Fall 2003 the directors of Youth department understood the need and Netari was founded
  • 10. How Netari is doing now?
    • Netari was set up at Habbo Finland in 2004
    • The number of visitors is constantly on the rise (when Netari opened, it served ~35 000 youth a year)
    • There were 35 325 visitors per autumn season 2007!
    • Youth workers are sort of idols to Habbo users because they have their special pins differentiating them from the mass
    • 30 biggest cities and towns in Finland have their youth workers at Habbo Netari (26 youth workers altogether. There are also several 14-17 year old helping out youth workers )
    • Currently Netari operates in Habbo and IRC-Galleria
    • is their general information page (in Finnish)
  • 11. Save the Children Finland
  • 12. The Story of Nettivihje
    • Northern Hotline (Nettivihje in Finnish) started in October 2002
    • It is child welfare service on the net and f ocuses on illegal and harmful material and child pornography
    • Save the Children Finland has crises chat ”Manteli” at popular chat services such as Suomi24, Irc-Galleria and Habbo and Hiiripiiri (”mouse circle”) for 6-12 year olds. Hiiripiiri is a free of charge online learning environment focusing on media education.
    • Save the Children Finland also provides studies on children and youth and their media use and related issues as well as is a member of European InHope and InSafe networks.
  • 13. How Nettivihje is doing now?
    • 37263 online tips have been sent to Save the Children Finland between 1.10.2002 - 29.2.2008
    • 44% of the tips have been focusing on illegal material
    • Save the Children has sent 8479 tips to InHope network and 8167 to National Bureau of Investigation
    • According to their user statistics, people have learned to know about the service and have sent increasing number of tips to the service. The number of tips have grown from 2002-2003 (3254 tips) to 2007 (9091 tips)
    • Manteli Christmas chat has also found its place
  • 14. Life tastes better without drugs (EOPH ry)
  • 15. The story of Hubu and MobiHubu
    • EOPH is focusing on telematic drug prevention
    • Hubu bus has been at Habbo since 2002
    • Antti Järventaus was the innovator and EOPH assocation was unprejudiced towards the idea
      • EOPH has similar looking busses IRL (since 2000 >)
      • Virtual Hubu bus became very popular, youth have been queuing to the bus ever since 2002
    • EOPH also has MobiHubu mobile Java games series
      • Free of charge (except transmission costs ~30 snt)
      • Quiz type of games
      • Currently two games out (Tobacco 2006 and alcohol 2007)
      • Focusing on knowledge sharing and drug prevention
      • Java games have been one of the most downloaded Java games in Finland
  • 16. How Hubu and MobiHubu are doing?
      • Hubu has over 20 000 visitors per year
      • In 2006 there were 19750 visitors at the bus
      • Only ~10 visitors accepted at once for 15-30 minutes to the virtual bus
      • Youth participate in group discussions and questionnaires at the bus. The discussion are led by experts in drug prevention
      • 94000 users visited web site
      • So far over 15000 Mobihubu games have been downloaded from game portals and hubu-sites
      • EOPH is opening a league format where youth can compete against each other in knowledge
  • 17. A-clinic foundation
  • 18. The story of Varjomaailma
    • The communication director of A-clinic foundation Teuvo Peltoniemi has been interested in digital possibilities for a long time
    • E.g. He is one of the founders of Prevnet-network and portal
    • Antti Järventaus and Tuuli Erkko developed Varjomaailma (Shadow World) in 2007-2008
    • It is inspired by Anima/Manga trend popular in Finland at the moment
    • Varjomaailma is a web site where children and youth can share stories, create comics and meet like-minded youth
    • The focus of the website is to give a forum form children whos parent(s) are alcoholics
    • It is also a way to share understanding and comfortable channel to get help from adults but also from the peers
  • 19. How Varjomaailma is doing?
    • Over 70000 printed comic books were circulated to schools (target: 10-13 year old Finns) in spring 2008
    • Some schools used classes to visit the web site and create comic strips
    • The web site has 1044 registed users
    • Currently there are nearly 400 comics created by the users
    • 62 stories have been sent to the site
  • 20. Mannerheim league for child welfare (MLL)
  • 21. The story of Nuortennetti
    • Nuoren netti (youngsters’ net) focuses on prevention of online bullying and online safety
    • Nuortennetti web site was put out in 2005
    • Youth participate in the improvement of Nuortennetti
    • MLL is utilizing multi-channel approach (mobile phone, online service, IRL events, parent’s night at school etc.)
    • MLL has their own web site, Nuortennetti has also personalized IRC-Galleria web community founded in September 2007
    • Currently there is only 25 members at the IRC-Galleria community
  • 22. How Nuortennetti is doing?
    • Peer support: Nuortennetti ”Stories” since 2005 (several thousands of stories from a teen to another)
    • Currently they are developing ”online prefect” system and strengthening collaboration with other actors in the field
    • 2729 messages were sent to MLL mail service in 2007 (2459 of them were from girls)
    • Top 3 topics: relationships at home, relationships to friends, dating, depression and school.
    • Nuortennetti has found its own role online as a provider of ”help line” type of activities online as well and listening to worries children and youth have
  • 23.
    • Many associations and organizations have understood how central role digital services and computer-mediated communication have in youngsters lives.
    • The link between real world circle of friends and virtual communities and virtual friends is blurred. Adults may think virtual reality to be a separate universe from the real world but youth do not think the same way. Virtual communities offer more personal and heart-to-heart communication channel to classmates, a possibility to explore and act out.
    • That is where youth work and various association have their potential. To link fun with function and be present on arenas where youth spent their spare time.
  • 24. Brand parasites
    • Hubu (EOPH) is an example of a Brand parasite. Hubu operates inside Habbo community and is getting its visitors from Habbo user base.
    • All or at least majority of Habbo users sign in to the Habbo-service because they want to be a part of Habbo community and meet friends, not because they would like to get information about drugs or alcohol.
    • As a parasite Hubu also have its function at the development chain. It gives positive image to the mother service and easy access point to needful information for children and youth.
  • 25. Gaming lifestyle
    • Several previously mentioned services utilize ”gaming lifestyle” approach in their services
    • They have learned to provide information in clear packages, enabling ways to participate and generate content by the users (children and youth)
    • Services are easy, interactive, funny and snack size
    • Actors try to utilize communication modes which are already common amongst youth who have adopted gaming lifestyle or multitasking way of working
  • 26.
    • Some research data and Franktown example:
    • Mika Joensuu: Youth’s Internet-Communities
    • and Their Meaning for the Youth Work
    • Virtual Franktown:
    • Virtahepo research project:
    • Short summary of Virtahepo results: