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Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds

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The full KZero Worldswide report.

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Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds

  1. 1. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds A KZero Worldswide report Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 1
  2. 2. V irtual worlds are not just for adults. In fact, kids, tweens and teens (KT&T) worlds account for a significantly higher proportion of users than all the major ‘grown-up’ worlds combined - and these user-bases are growing rapidly. This KZero Worldswide virtual worlds case study identifies, explains and analyses the major virtual worlds with youth- oriented audiences. Brand and marketing activities in t h e s e d i g i t a l i n t e r a c t i ve environments are also rationalised and assessed, along with strategies for companies looking to enter this space. This case study is ideal for companies seeking to create new KT&T virtual worlds as well as marketers wishing to open dialogues with hard-to-reach youth demographics. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 2
  3. 3. Virtual worlds explained The rapid take-up of virtual worlds is also a factor of general progression in the field of IT. Broadband 2007 was the year in which virtual worlds, or penetration has increased rapidly in recent years and metaverses, caught the attention of mass media. Led prices for these services are falling. primarily by Second Life, virtual worlds were widely reporting on due to the number of brands across Coupled to this is the increase in computing power different sectors which entered and created presences and decrease in the cost of computers, thus enabling a and campaigns in-world. far greater experience (in a virtual world) compared to simply reading information or watching a video from a But what is a virtual world? In essence, it’s an online static website. The graph below shows a KZero 3D environment where people (avatars) can interact forecast for unique users of virtual worlds in the KT&T with each other by communication (text or voice space. chat), collaboration and shared experiences. And, although Second Life was the poster child for 250m virtual worlds in 2007, as the case study will prove, it’s 200m kids, tweens and teens (KT&T) which have really 150m embraced metaverses much faster than ‘grown-ups’. 100m That’s not to mean that grown-up worlds are not 50m important or do not play a role in the future 2007 2008 development of virtual spaces. They will, and as we’ll 2009 0m 2010 see through 2009 and 2010, a wide range of different 2011 uses and applications will be created. And, as virtual worlds for KT&T become more popular, However, as overall user (or resident) numbers the number of worlds available to them is growing demonstrate, KT&T worlds present significant with mainstream brands and companies now actively marketing and branding opportunities for both placing their brands and products into them in a marketers and companies wishing to create their own variety of innovative ways. platforms. Demonstrating the growth in this sector, there are now over 150 virtual worlds either live or in Why are they growing? development. KZero uses the term ‘Pages to Places’ to refer to and explain the migration and popularity of virtual worlds. This case study identifies and explains the virtual worlds available as well as demonstrates how real In the context of KT&T, todays’ children are introduced world brands are deploying marketing activities. to computers at an extremely early age (both at school and home) and have a much more open mind The following section details virtual worlds in the than adults when it comes to new computing KT&T sector, both live and in development. applications. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 3
  4. 4. In terms of the actual activities in Club Penguin, the crux of this virtual world is the ability to play (mini) games with other people in the form of Penguins. Players are able to chat with other players in a Positioned as a safe virtual world for kids to play, moderated format. interact with friends and have fun letting their imaginations soar, Club Penguin is a browser-based Club Penguin is ad-free, meaning no advertising of metaverse with over 28m registered accounts. The third-party products or services are allowed in-world. recommended ages range for Club Penguin is six - 14. Population growth was extremely rapid, aided mostly by word of mouth viral activity in playgrounds and in Geared as an educational virtual world, where late summer 2007 the company was acquired by the registered ‘citizens’ come from all over to learn, create Walt Disney Corporation in a deal worth $350m. and have fun together, Whyville has over 5m registered accounts. The recommended ages range for Whyville is eight - 15. Whyville was created by Numedeon Inc, with collaboration from the California Institute of Technology and focusses hard to create constructive educational activities with subjects ranging from science and maths through to art and economics. It is browser-based. The world itself is available via standard web browsers, as opposed to a downloadable client and offers two types of membership. Children can use Club Penguin for free, as a non-member. This level of access allows children to go anywhere in the world (except to member parties) and purchase (using in-game currency) a limited number of items. Subscribed members get additional benefits such as additional game items and up to 14 different game An in-world currency, the Clam, is in place in Whyville. characters - known as Puffles. Subscription costs Users (Whyvillians) accumulate Clams by $5.95, $29.95 or $57.95 for monthly, six months or participating in activities. Clams can then be used to annual access respectively. access enhanced features in-world such as the ability to own their own virtual business or to purchase ‘face parts’, furniture or other goods. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 4
  5. 5. In April 2007, the Gaia Cinemas feature was added, allowing Gaians to sit in virtual movie theatres and watch films and other forms of programming. Gaia allows third-party companies to enter the world to Gaia Online is a anime-themed browser-based virtual create marketing-led initiatives and user experiences. environment launched in 2003 by Gaia Interactive. Registered accounts currently stands at over 18m. Gaia Online is positioned as an ‘online hangout’ and openly encourages and facilities avatar customisation. Gaia Online is a tween world, allowing anyone over the age of 13 to join for free. There is only one type of Based on the popular stuffed animal range of toys membership (free). from Webkinz (a Ganz company), Webkinz World is an interactive website (broswer-based) allowing children to ‘adopt’ a virtual version of their pet. Webkinz was launched in 2005. Every Webkinz animal sold comes with an eight- character code. This code allows access to the virtual Webkinz world where there are over 5m members. The age range for participation is six to 13. Adopting a virtual pet provides each user with Kinzcash, the in-world currency and then allows them A major aspect of Gaia Online are forums. The to spend it in the W Shop on food and clothing for company claims that there are over 1 billion posts on their pet. the Gaia forums and that 300,000 members log-in to Gaia every day, spending an average of two hours on the site. Users of Gaia (Gaians) can earn Gaia Gold (the in- world currency) by participating in activities such as events based around holiday celebrations. Over 190m Gaia Gold is exchanged every day in-world. Gaians are also able to purchase (using real money) ‘Monthly Collectables’ - special items added to their inventory.There is also a gaming element to Gaia Activities in-world include the collection of virtual Online, in the form of flash-based games such as items as well as participation in virtual TV shows via Fishing, Jigsaw and Rally. Players are rewarded by the Webkinz studio. participation with Gaia Gold. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 5
  6. 6. Competitions such as the ‘Pet of the Month’ are also The in-world currency is the Neopoint, earned by held with accessories offered as prizes. In addition to playing games and in fact, the economy is an the ‘pet management’ aspect, Webkinz also provides a important aspect of the world, within a stock market learning environment with interactive games such as (the Neodaq) and the ability for users to open virtual Lunch Letters and Quizzy’s Word Challenge. shops and sell products. As a brand-led world, Webkinz does not allow (at Neopets allows third-party advertising and marketing present) third-party marketing. and has worked with a high number of brands in the entertainment and consumer sectors. Announced in July 2007, Nickelodeon Kids (owner of Neopets) have stated that Neopets would be transformed in Neostudios, with an aim of investing Similar to Webkinz, Neopets is an interactive website $100m into the virtual world space. The first of the (browser-based) for virtual pets. Originally launched new worlds will be called World of Neopia, and is still in 1999, Viacom bought the company in 2005 for in development. $160m. Neopets has over 54m registered accounts in total and is open to all ages Habbo is a browser-based virtual Hotel created and owned by the Sulake Corporation where teenagers socialise with each other using personalised avatars. Over 135m avatars (accounts) have been created since launch in 1999. Within the environment (called Neopia), users can look after up to four pets and buy associated items for them. There are two levels of membership, free and premium. A premium account, costing £7.99 per The virtual Hotel features 'public' rooms where all month provides additional features. players can chat and private 'guest' rooms created by players. Teenagers are able to furnish their Habbo Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 6
  7. 7. guest rooms with items of virtual furniture and may choose to adopt and look after a virtual pet. Habbo also features a number of mini-games within the Hotel setting. Habbo has an in-world currency, Coins, available for purchase with real money and awarded as prizes. Habbo allows entrance from third-party brands and companies for marketing (and other) purposes. The minimum age to create a Habbo account is 13. The minimum age to create an account in There is 13, with no upper age limit. Basic membership is free with premium accounts allowing voice chat and event hosting costing a one-time fee of $9.95. Virtual world There is positioned as an online getaway where you can hang out with your friends and meet Brand and marketing activity is allowed in There. new ones. The company was originally founded in 1998 and is a downloadable application. In April 2004 it was purchased by Makena Kaneva Inc was founded in 2004 as a 3D virtual world Technologies and has enjoyed growth since. There are by Chris Klaus and Greg Frame. The company focuses currently over 2.5m registered accounts (estimated). on providing a virtual space combined with social There is aimed at teenagers and young adults with an networking capabilities and is a downloadable average user age of 22. This slightly older tween application. world is often referred to as a younger Second Life Kaneva is officially still in beta, although it is (the average age of a Second Life resident is 32). estimated to have over 2m registered accounts to date. Whereas most kids and tween worlds focus on including gaming within the virtual space, There concentrates on being an immersive social space - a shared experience that allows people to interact in an online society. Users also have a higher degree of customisation tools than in younger worlds and development of virtual items is allowed. The in-world currency is the There Buck, purchased using real money. A core feature of Kaneva is the ability to integrate web-based media such as video and pictures into an apartment setting given to all members. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 7
  8. 8. As such, this world is one of the first to actively attempt to bridge the gap between social networking sites and a 3D virtual environment. The in-world currency is known as credits which can be purchased via credit card from the website. Credits can be used to purchase items within the world. Additionally, avatars can earn rewards by completing tasks and participating in events. Kaneva accepts marketing from third party brands. The average age of a Kaneva resident is estimated in the 17 - 21 age range and the minimum age is 14. Stardoll is one of few places on the Internet developed with an emphasis on girls' self-expression through fantasy and fashion play (although several new virtual worlds are looking to emulate Stardolls’ success by Stardoll was founded in Sweden in 2004 and is a launching similar platforms). website/virtual environment that allows users to dress The in-world currency is called the Stardollar (one up virtual mannequins in a range of different fashion USD equals eight Stardollars) and new members and celebrity styles. receive 25 Stardollars. Additional clothing items are available by purchasing currency via credit cards. Stardoll has over 33m registered accounts and is Stardoll accepts third-party marketing and brands obviously tailored more towards girls than boys. such as DKNY and Sephora are already promoting their products. Taken from the website, ‘Stardoll is a virtual paperdoll community site for everyone who enjoys fashion, design and making friends. At Stardoll you can create your own MeDoll or choose from our ever growing collection of celebrity dolls and dress them up in our wide selection of fashions. Every celebrity doll has a SmallWorlds is a browser-based virtual world wardrobe full of unique clothes and there are new dolls currently open to the public created by Outsmart. It released every week. The membership is completely was fully launched in late 2008. FREE and most of our members are girls between the ages of 7 and 17.’ SmallWorlds allows users to create and customize their own rooms and worlds, and fill them with a wide variety of items and activities for them and their friends to enjoy together. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 8
  9. 9. From the website: ‘SmallWorlds is a new generation of The primary focus of IMVU is the ability to use virtual world that runs inside your web browser, personalized 3D avatars and environments that let the without the need to download or install any other user interact with the person they are chatting with. software. SmallWorlds combines media, web content, and casual games into a highly accessible & compelling Membership is free, although virtual items (over 2m 3D world that integrates seamlessly with the rest of the created) require the in-world currency - credits, to web, bringing Virtual Worlds into the mainstream.’ purchase them. The secondary focus of IMVU is allowing the members to develop content that can be purchased by other members for use in personalizing their avatars and environments. With their online friends and acquaintances, they can share experiences like playing games, watching YouTube videos, listening to their favourite bands, browsing through photo galleries, and so much more. SmallWorlds brings together the best aspects of online games, instant messaging, social networks and digital media, and wraps them into a persistent virtual world that is never more than a hyperlink away.’ Third-party marketing is allowed and according to the company there are over 35m registered accounts. It is not currently known if Smallworlds will accept third-party marketing but due to the presence of a Partners section on their website, it is expected to be available. Use of SmallWorlds is free although a premium version will be available on full launch to purchase virtual items. The minimum age is not currently Built using the technology created by Makena for known. There, Virtual MTV is a suite of virtual worlds serving various MTV TV programmes. vMTV was launched in 2006 and is estimated to have over 4.5m registered accounts. vMTV is designed to create a virtual place for viewers IMVU is a 3D chat environment created in 2004 by of programmes such as Laguna Beach, The Hills, Kaya, IMVU Inc. Pimp My Ride and and The Real World. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 9
  10. 10. given an apartment which can be customised as well as control over their appearance. ‘spaces’ in Home dedicated to games (with ten-pin bowling, pool tables and retro arcade games), media Furthermore, Sony is creating various ‘spaces’ in Home dedicated to games (with ten-pin bowling, pool tables and retro arcade games), media (with streaming videos of upcoming PS3 games and Sony movies) and retail A key aspect of vMTV is competitions and MTV works areas. hard to integrate aspects of their real world shows in- Selected, complementary third-party marketing is world. allowed in Home, the first campaign coming from Red Bull allowing players to race around an aerial circuit in Clothing and fashion-related items are available for a Red Bull racing plane. purchase (using a credit-card). In early 2009, vMTV was re-branded to MTV 3D and a new browser-based world was named vMTV. Lego Universe is a virtual world being created for Lego’s core audience of kids aged 8 -12. It is not known when this world will be launched but it is Playstation Home is a virtual world currently being anticipated to be early 2010. developed by Sony (in beta) and will reside on the PS3 gaming console. Home launched in December of Lego Universe is expected to leverage the building 2008. aspect of Lego and allow players to construct the world using their own imagination. In essence, Home is intended to be a place PS3 owners visit before and after they are playing games on the console. “LEGO Universe ties together all aspects of our community and line of products in an online It is a highly graphical environment maximising the environment that can be enjoyed by LEGO fans of all capabilities of the console. Within Home, players are ages. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 10
  11. 11. By merging the online world of social interaction with VizWoz caters for all tastes and interests in the teen the LEGO concept of play, LEGO Universe will provide sector including film, music, sport and fashion, is the our community with an entirely new way to experience first in online safety to have its very own police force LEGO and connect with other players in a fun and 'VizCops', and is set to become the future of chat and imaginative setting” gaming." Third-party marketing is not expected to be available. Vizwoz is free to play and also has a premium- subscription model available providing enhanced features to residents. Third-party marketing will be allowed in Vizwoz. Vizwoz has 750,000 registered accounts. Launched in March 2008, Vizwoz is a 2.5D browser- based virtual world aimed at early teens. The world is based around socialising with different zones and areas available to explore. Taken from a statement from the founder: A new aspect of virtual worlds is starting to emerge known as ‘Vertical Worlds’. These are platforms created "VizWoz is a stimulating, interesting and safe virtual to address a specific interest or genre. The first genre world for kids and teenagers to explore, meet friends, being explored on this basis is sports and one example make friends and hang out whilst stretching their of this is Empire of Sports. imagination and creativity. VizWoz appeals to both boys and girls who log on, create their own character and move from room to room chatting, playing games and hanging out with friends for free. Empire of Sports launched in December 2008(beta) and is a downloadable application. It is a 3D world based around playing sports. Taken from their website: Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 11
  12. 12. “A world where you can realize your wildest dreams The minimum age for FS is between ten and 13. Third- awaits. Embark on a journey that will take you from party marketing is allowed, the first brand entering ambitious amateur to the heights of sports stardom. being Puma. Empire of Sports, the first true multi sports gaming world. Empire of Sports" is not a MMORPG, it's something new. It's both familiar yet far beyond what you have seen so OurWorld is a browser-based virtual world currently in far. You will immediately feel at home while you beta and is expected to launch in November 2009. The experience a brand new realm of sports entertainment.” target market is kids with the average age of 16 and Kids and tweens will be allowed access and third- aims to combine casual games, socialising and quest- party marketing is expected to be allowed. based activities. The CEO and VP is on record as commenting: "We think people want to have fun, chill out, meet other people. We're all about cooperation. The more Another vertical world is Football Superstars (FS). This people you play with in your room, the more currency world was launched in November 2008 and is a you earn." virtual world and gaming experience purely based on football (soccer). These different characters that you'll start meeting throughout the exploration of the world, we want to tease some of these things, so you can unlock new environments or meet the designers," explained VP and Executive Wanda Gregory. "It's kind of a fun environment, and it's based on what kids want: that freedom and how you can personalize yourself. Kids come on and they don't want to get off." Whereas existing football games on consoles allow It is not currently known if third-party advertising will the player to control the entire team, FS will instead be permitted. OurWorld has 2m registered accounts. offer the functionality for people to play in one position as part of a team made up of people all online at the same time. When players are not competing in matches, they will Woogi World launched in Q3 2008 and was developed be able to live the life of a virtual footballer, engaging by the nonprofit Children’s Way Foundation. in a world of luxury items, social events and training Woogiworld.com is virtual world for elementary exercises. school children, with the average age of 7. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 12
  13. 13. It is important to know that this educational virtual world for elementary school kids aims to teach its young users good character traits, Internet skills, leadership, community service and health. Handipoints is another virtual world aimed at younger children, with the average age being 7 years old. The In Woggi World, users adopt a Woggi, and use this site is all about “making work fun.” Woggi to learn and play in-world. In -world, Woggi’s earn watts, the in-world currency, which are then used to buy clothing for the Woggis and other items. Activities and games in Woggi World are based around topics such as nutrition, economics, mathematics, reading and many more. “In this virtual community children’s “real world” chores earn them big prizes and new adventures in a safe online environment that is controlled and monitored by Digital Dollhouse launched in Nov 2008 and is an parents.” immersive playspace accessed via browser. “HandiLand is very similar to Club Penguin and In Digital Dollhouse members can create themed Webkinz in ways that you can adopt and dress up a rooms in a house (starting with the Dream Victorian). cartoon cat, walk around to different towns and interact Near photo-realistic household goods and items can with other kids.” be arranged in the rooms. A big aspect of Handipoints are their Chore Charts. Kids use these chore charts in-world to list their real- life chores, and when they complete their chores, they win points in-world allowing them access to games and prizes. This platform is suitable for brands in the home furnishing, luxury goods and interior design categories (brand marketing is allowed). Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 13
  14. 14. JumpStart is a virtual world targeted at kids with the average age of 6 years old. JumpStart is adventure based learning for kids. EcoBuddies’ goal is to normalize environmental concepts for children who are five to 12 years of age JumpStart is an award-winning adventure based 3D and provide them with a world of games, fun, and virtual world that is super-personalized, widly friends. imaginative and really fun, but do not let that fool you - it also teaches math, reading and critical thinking EcoBuddies focuses on educating children about skills so kids get a real jump start in life. environmentalism. The website is based on ecosystems with the first ‘launched’ world mirroring Jumpstart has over 1m registered accounts. the west coast of British Columbia, Oregon, Washington, and California. Chapatiz was launched in 2005. In the world of Chapatiz, children ages six to 12, play online in a safe environment. Kids’ avatars, named ‘Buddies’ in-world (in the form of lovable hamsters), first enter a hub, seemingly in the middle of the earth, and then travel through a tube to the west coast. The world of EcoBuddies is filled with fun and adventure for children. Their Buddies can currently Chapatiz is a free online game. Users can chat, make buy houses and furniture, dress in a large selection of friends, create their own avatar and make it evolve. costumes, and in the future will be able to purchase Users of Chapatiz can play all by themselves or with pets and other curios. There is also a large selection of other members; they can also create groups or even games for Buddies to play, such as bowling, hang- get married! gliding, blasting comets, and dancing. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 14
  15. 15. While the world seems to have a large social component, it's being billed as an MMORPG with customizable avatars, guilds, skill systems, and a player economy. Xivio is an online virtual world where kids can meet, There's combat and puzzle solving, but also crafting, play, shop and collaborate. Kids can design their own houses to customize, and puzzles. Targeted at females avatar, apartment, play games, collect rare items, in their pre-teens to twenties, the downloadable attend parties and more. world is free to play, but will monetize off of the Item Mall, which "allows players to use real money to The Guardians on Xivio (avatars with halos), have purchase special items and upgrades for characters." special abilities within the world of Xivio. Guardians are able to warn, mute, remove, and/or ban users not following safe chat guidelines, or for using profanity. They also contribute to rating user uploaded media, blogs and journal entries, music, and videos. Excerpted from the website description: Buildabearville.com was launched in 2007 by Build- “The 3D Virtual World Experience. Full of colorful, A-Bear Workshop. Currently, Buildabearville.com has interesting things to do! Chat, music, Blog, Share Pics over 5m registered users. This virtual world is targeted and Videos. No download required!” at children with an average age of nine years old. The in-world currency is called Vio and with Vios, users Similar to Webkinz strategy, after buying their new can purchase cool items from the Xivio Catalog. plush toy at a retail store in real life, kids can log on to Buildabearville.com and bring their bear to life in the One earns Vios by spending time on Xivio or inviting virtual world. friends to sign-up and join Xivio world. Xivio is safe for children to use; the average age is 8. In-world, kids can earn virtual currency by participating in games and quests. Currency can be used to buy clothes and furniture for their Cub Condo homes, among other items. Hello Kitty Online is a virtual world in which children, primarily girls aged eight and up, play with their avatars, blog, email, share videos and much more. It is a product of Sanrio and Typhoon Games. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 15
  16. 16. Whirled launched in the beginning of 2008 by San Francisco developer Three Rings, targets children age 13 and up. Poptropica is a virtual world for kids to travel, play Whirled is a web-based social world fueled at every games, compete in head-to-head competitions and turn by player created content - everything from communicate safely. Kids can also read books, comics avatars, to games, to pet monsters, can be custom and more. designed and 'remixed' by players using easy Flash development tools. Whirled is currently in live, open-beta testing. Action All Stars is a browser based, sports themed virtual world for children ages six - 14. Some information from the company website states: Poptropica was created by the Family Education Network and launched in September 2007. “The foundation of ActionAllStars.com is built upon four Poptropica’s virtual world targets children with the "C's": Compete, Collect, Customize and Chat. A average age of nine - 10 years old. There are currently combination of sports news and fun, pick-up-and-play over 76m registered users. games, in addition to a leveling and challenge-based system influenced by real-world sporting events, keeps the experience fresh and relevant for everyone.” Chobots is an entertaining virtual world, a family game aimed at creating an interesting, safe and learning environment for children aged eight and up. Chobots remains free to play overall, but monthly subscriptions will offer extra benefits, including exclusive clothes, upgrades for users virtual houses, and more. In the future Chobots plans to roll out extra furniture, pet upgrades, and new areas for subscribers. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 16
  17. 17. Dizzywood is a fun free game for kids where they can play free games, explore unique and imaginative Moshi Monsters was created with the intention to areas, and meet new friends in a safe environment. produce a ground-breaking new entertainment experience that would be fun, safe and educational for Dizzywood offers children ages eight to 12 the kids of all ages. opportunity to create their own adventure, cooperate with other players in exciting games and challenges, Visitors to the site can adopt their very own pet and have fun while learning. Monster, give it a name and design its color scheme. Each Monster has a lively personality that develops Dizzywood launched in November, 2007 and currently the more it is played with. has over 1m registered users. It's currently free to use and there are no advertisements on the website. Franktown Rocks was created by Brainwave Studios, a high tech children’s entertainment company, and is for children ages six - 12. Monster owners can nurture their pet by solving daily puzzle games to earn Rox, the in-game currency. Rox can be used to buy weird and wonderful things in the virtual shop to keep Monsters healthy and happy. Monster owners can make new friends and connect with existing friends through a wide variety of safe Franktown Rocks was set out to create a music based social networking features such as Monster blogs, virtual world where children can play games, have Newsfeeds, pinboards and buddy lists. fun, learn about music and interact in a safe environment. Moshie Monsters has almost 4m users to date. The company opened Franktown Rocks for public testing in May 2008 and officially launched in October 2008. Third-party marketing is allowed. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 17
  18. 18. MinyanLand, home of Hoofy the Bull and Boo the Bear, is a virtual world in which kids get to play games and make friends, while learning about earning, saving, spending and giving. MinyanLand is free for users. Each user of MinyanLand When a user has adopted their pony, they he or she starts out with $50,000 in MinyanMoney and a Condo will need to care for it so they can take it on virtual worth $50,000. rides along Wiggins’, the in-world town, roads and trails. Every few weeks a new trail opens for users to Players, or Critters, visit the ATM in the Bank of ride and explore. MinyanLand to invest their money and check their account each time they log in to see if they’ve saved or Taken from the website: not. By doing real-life chores assigned by parents, users have the chance to earn more MinyanMoney or “In Club Pony Pals, like the real world, ponies are not a virtual allowance. ATV's. Riding a pony means a rider has to keep track of when they or their pony are hungry or tired. A quote from their website: Ponies teach their riders to have healthy boundaries, to “We created MinyanLand as a platform to entertain accept responsibility with self-confidence and to believe and educate a young generation so they understand in themselves. Good riders know they can handle the concept of a market and the basics of economics whatever comes their way. and finance on a real world level. The economic system of MinyanLand mimics the real-life pricing of general goods and services. As players participate in the system, their actions will affect the overall MinyanLand economy. This is how they will learn.” Planet Cazmo is a virtual world set inside an alien solar system that is inspired by music, hip-hop and Club Pony Pals virtual world is based on the Pony Pals other Earth cultural phenomenon. books by Jeanne Betancourt. Club Pony Pals is a place In Planet Cazmo, users create their own Cazmo or to adopt a virtual pony. Players, ages seven and up, are avatar and customize it with different styles of able to choose their pony’s color and name. clothing, hair, eyes and more. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 18
  19. 19. Once a user creates their Cazmo, he or she can begin Constantly updated avatars, furniture items and other by hanging out in town and making new friends by articles of daily use make it easy for the users to present chatting in real time, or he/ she can jump right into a themselves and play to the gallery. quick game of Space Race 5000 to earn Cazmo Coins, the in-world currency. One may even choose to go The users create their world to their own taste and and talk to the Mayor and decide to take on his quest. liking and thus become directors of settings and scenes Customization is made possible in Planet Cazmo by without restrictions.” decorating one’s own personal Cazmo house. Each Cazmo can choose from a growing inventory of chairs, sofas, stereo systems, televisions, rugs, lamps and more. MyMiniLife is a new form of entertainment and social play experience that allows people to express The average age of Planet Cazmo users is 13. There are themselves and connect in an artistic and fun way currently 3m registered users on Planet Cazmo. through the online design of their own personal environment. Taken from the website: “MyMiniLife allows people to expand their life, relax and be creative by designing and decorating their dream surroundings whether it is their everyday house, Club Cooee is a 3D internet communication platform vacation home, ideal business, log cabin, dorm room, for teenagers - think of it like a chatworld as opposed Manhattan loft, Tuscan villa and more.” to a virtual world. It is currently in open beta and launched at the end of 2008. Taken from the website: “The core of Club Cooee is an innovative and worldwide unique 3D messenger capable of depicting a realtime and live environment on the user’s Windows desktop – without a surrounding programme window.” The users can network online and interact with each other in situations they created themselves. They can Users of MyMiniLife can construct and customize their chat, watch movies and pictures, listen to music, play spaces and homes by building properties and together and much more. Their own creativity is top neighborhoods. They can upload and sell useful priority. objects such as furniture, and buy objects using MyMiniLife money. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 19
  20. 20. Spineworld is a multiplayer fantasy world where kids can style their avatar, meet friends, play games, own a pet, furnish an apartment and have fun. It launched in April 2008 and is designed for young teens aged 11 - 15 years old. Participants of the virtual Muslim world customize Taken from the Spineworld website: their avatar or Pal, they can purchase presents for “Spineworld is an ever evolving story that moves friends with virtual money and seclude themselves to forward in chapters, similar to a book. Chapter marks a prayer rooms, or dress up traditionally. major change or addition to the worlds, new areas and Every character must satisfy their needs in areas of species are constantly being discovered.” happiness, spirituality, shape and skills concerning individual tasks. Muxlim Pal creators claim that it is not a religious world, but its goal is to promote the Muslim way of life. Taken from the blog Tech Crunch about Muxlim Pal: “The idea is that something tailored to the Muslim world would be allowed through the IP-blocks of countries like United Arab Emirates which currently stops access to virtual worlds and online games Spineworld has 2.8m registered users to date considered unsuitable or offensive to Muslim culture. The virtual world will “allow the opportunity to wear a hijab (or head scarf), and go to prayer rooms.” The revenue model will be VIP accounts, virtual gifts, virtual furniture/clothes, themes/styles, profile applications, advertising, branded communities and Muxlim is a Muslim-oriented virtual world. It was physical merchandise like t-shirts.” created in late 2008 by the social network Muxlim.com that has been live since 2006. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 20
  21. 21. Through Muxlim Pal users can have their online “Roiworld.com is a style portal that provides visitors persona shop, play sports, go to concerts and socialize with a virtual wardrobe where fashion knows no around the virtual town. As the pal prays or engages bounds. The site promises users access to over 65,000 in other religious activities its spirituality meter rises. fabulous clothing items; from minis to gowns, women Elements deemed un-Islamic, like drugs and sexual will explore, experiment and discover their own sense of references, are banned from the virtual world. style in a fun online game setting. The predicted average user age of Muxlim Pal is 14 Roilife boasts the most sophisticated and artistic virtual years. dress-up design talent in the world. Roiworld.com provides the perfect setting for women to escape, have fun and share their personalized style ideas with a social network of their fashion-savvy friends.” WeeWorld is a virtual world for tweens and teens. It is a social network built for fun where users can meet and interact with WeeMees (the in-world avatars), invite friends, send messages, play games and create personal online cartoon pages. WeeMees are the in-world avatars, or a cartoon that tends to look just like the user creating it. They are Taatu launched in the beginning of 2005 in Belgium thought of as one’s own personal avatar or icon. and The Netherlands, and currently has 1.2m WeeMees can be customized on the WeeWorld site or registered users. Its focus is for Dutch and French on AIM.com. speakers and targets the 12 - 25 age group. WeeWorld launched in 2006 and currently has 27m Taatu members chat with friends, listen to music, users. watch videos, play games, meet real-life celebrities, organize in-world parties and have fun. In the world of Taatu, members create their identity by customizing their Taatu, or avatar, and their personal 3D space. Users can generate content and share it with other Taatus from their own space in-world. Roiworld is a virtual world with a focus on style with fashion games and dress-up games. The only gaming In-world advertising and brand marketing is allowed destination is designed for teen girls and women. on Taatu. Taken from the website: Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 21
  22. 22. Meez Nation launched in June 2008 and currently has over 12m users. Meez is a thriving social entertainment community of teens and college-aged RocketOn launched in 2008 and allows users to take youth that create 3D avatars, play casual games, their avatar everywhere they go online. connect with others in virtual worlds, share media and participate in the virtual economy. Members of RocketOn can adopt virtual pets, play Taken from the launch press release: party games, go on virtual dates and participate in treasure hunts and quests. “Meez Nation is designed to let everyday users easily Quoted from their website: connect with others and share experiences. Residents can chat with one another, watch YouTube videos “You can now play with friends, socialize and explore together, listen to music and leave answering machines virtual spaces on any webpages. You can join in messages. treasure hunts across the web, meet friends on your favorite sites, and find virtual goodies as you browse.” By typing various text triggers such as "LOL," "OMG" or "dance," Meez users can launch animations to amuse others in Roomz. There are also numerous interactive objects spread around Meez Nation to inject fun into the scene, including walls that can be tagged with graffiti Frenzoo is a unique 3D avatar and dress-up games and a Tesla coil that zaps users.” virtual community for fashion and lifestyle. In addition to all this, Meez Nation provides unique Users, or ztylists, design clothes and accessories and promotional opportunities for musicians, artists, and sell them in their own 3D shop. Ztylists style their brand advertising to reach the enthusiastic population avatars and join fashion games to win fame and coins of Meez. (the in-world currency). Frenzoo helps designers and brands showcase their creations in beautiful, interactive and animated 3D, allowing users to get deep impressions on their work. Frenzoo is free for everyone to join and the website is Outspark launched in January 2008 and currently has offered in multiple languages. The average user age over 5m users. The average user age is 19. Outspark is on Frenzoo is 17. a gaming 3D virtual world, offering multiple games. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 22
  23. 23. Outspark games are free to play, but it allows players to customize their characters via an innovative online store. Items are designed for individual games. Furthermore, the games feature dynamic content that change on a daily basis to further entertain players and drive the community’s engagement. Outspark offers a broad range of multiplayer titles including fantasy role-playing and advanced casual games like sports and racing, where players can meet, Registration and basic usage is free to all people socialize and have fun with friends. wishing to join sMeet, but some premium services are available by purchasing sMeet Coins. The average user Third-party marketing and advertising is allowed on age is 18; minors are allowed access to some of Outspark. sMeet’s content. sMeet currently has 1m registered accounts. What do kids want to do? sMeet launched in the end of 2006 and is currently live and open to the public. On sMeet users can watch Companies targeting kids and tweens across many videos, listen to the radio, test their knowledge in different sectors have opportunities in virtual worlds. quizzes and meet new friends. Users can also take part in ‘Meet & Greets’ with celebrities and talk on the But before one starts to think about potential telephone. strategies it’s extremely important to understand how kids and tweens use virtual worlds and other social Taken from the sMeet website: networking environments. “sMeet combines virtual 3D environments with live Firstly, kids are web-savvy, in many instances more communications and entertainment functionality into than adults. A recent Ofcom report (April 2008) an innovative mixture, creating a world of rich suggested that a quarter of eight to 11 year olds have experiences for you and your friends (social network). a profile on a social network. The focus is on social interaction between you and your group of friends, where the way you communicate and And whilst these environments are not strictly the creativity with which you design your “avatar” play speaking virtual worlds, this is an indication into the central roles.” future direction of kids activities online. The Market Research Director at Ofcom stated: Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 23
  24. 24. "Social networks are clearly a very important part of • Social climbers: Competitive and outward people's lives and are having an impact on how people children focussed on their social position in the live their lives. Children's lives are very different from environment. Slight bias towards boys. what they were 20 years ago. Social networks are a way of creating a social bond." • Collector-consumers: Interested in acquiring and accumulating virtual items and rewards with So what types of activities do kids want to do in a perceived value. Likely to be older children. virtual worlds? • Self-stampers: Identity-driven show-offs First and foremost, they are social chat environments. wanting to make their mark. Likely to be older Kids use virtual worlds to chat with their friends and children. make new ones. • Fighters: Interested in death, violence and They also like to play games. Websites such as destruction. Likely to be older boys. Miniclips with over 24m registered members have proved that gaming is an extremely popular past- • Power users: Proposition advocates keen to time. assist others by sharing their knowledge. ‘Relationship exploration’ is also popular. By this, it • Nurturers: Interested in looking after their avatar means giving kids something (a pet for example) to and pet (if applicable). Likely to be younger boys look after. Building on his theme, kids and tween and girls, plus older girls. worlds are also popular when the residents can experiment with dressing up (avatar customisation). So, in summary, kids and tweens like to play, chat, experiment and look after things. • Life-system builders: Creatively-driven children interested in creating new objects, items and Types of player/member environments. Likely to be younger children. A research study carried out by the BBC from Dec 07 to This research provides good insight and therefore Jan 08 investigated how children interacted and guidance for marketers considering virtual entrance as engaged with a virtual world in development. well as the positioning of worlds in development. This study identified the following eight types of The options for marketers members profile. Bearing in mind the key activities detailed above, • Explorer-investigators: Confident and curious marketers considering entrance into a virtual world children driven by quests and challenges. need to understand how their brand or product can be placed alongside these activities. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 24
  25. 25. Being able to create educational environments is also This might take the form of providing features or showing early signs of being extremely popular. ‘gadgets’ in-world that give the residents a service or experience not currently available. Kids and tweens do not overtly want to be ‘taught’ during their spare time but if education can be As shown in the following sections, providing clothing transformed into a fun experience then engagement is and accessories for avatars is also a popular strategy far higher. for both brands and the residents. The following sections provide examples of how the Drawing on and leveraging real world assets is also first wave of brands in kids and tween worlds are worth considering. This can take several forms. creating new relationships with their target markets. Firstly, many real world companies have extremely Making education fun strong brands in the real world. Being able to leverage Several companies and brands have experimented these brands and associated values and features could with using virtual worlds as a way to provide lead to successful campaigns. A great example of this educational experiences for kids and tweens. is the upcoming Lego Universe platform. Furthermore, K Zero predicts further growth during 2009 for educational applications in virtual worlds. Being able to tie in to media assets such as films and TV product is also a strategy worth investigating. The first example here is from Bankinter, the fifth largest bank in Spain. Bankinter opened a virtual bank branch in Whyville to teach children about the basics of finance in August 2007. Being able to create virtual environments or at the very least virtual items facilitates the building of virtual groups and associations online full of kids and tweens. These can be developed as an extension of the offline interest. Bringing real-world events into the virtual world can also work. This is typically known as ‘Simulcasting’ Commenting on the Bankinter project, a Bankinter when a virtual version of a live event is broadcasted. General Manager) stated: This has the primary benefit of bringing kids and “Opening a virtual bank in Whyville is absolutely a tweens closer to something they may not be able to natural for our bank whose fundamental approach to experience in the real-world. business is based on the education of our customers. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 25
  26. 26. The financial services currently available in our branch in Whyville are just the first step in establishing a “Whyville Scion Solutions is a perfect example of thoroughly modern and diverse set of financial services motivated, engaged learning. The Scions are a huge hit and instruments for Whyville’s citizens.” with our kids. They want cars! But most citizens just don’t have enough clams. We’ve set up the motivation for them to learn what it means to take out a loan. They’ll learn about interest rates, down payment, credit history, and, perhaps most important of all,being responsible. If you default on your loan, you’ll lose your car, and your credit history Proving that this initiative resonated with the Whyvillians, 25% of the entire world currency, the will be ruined so that you can’t take out another loan. Clam, was deposited into the bank in the form of saving accounts or certificates of deposits (CoD’s) within three Educators and researchers know that students learn months of the campaign launch. best when they really care about the topic. That’s exactly what we try to do in Whyville.” On a related theme, Toyota Financial Services (TFS) has also deployed a finance-related initiative in Specifically, this campaign involved the creation of the Whyville with their ‘Scion Solutions’ project in October Scion Solutions Office with the presence of a Loans 2006. Advisor on-hand to explain the various aspects of financial services. This campaign was a follow-up effort to Toyota’s first foray into Whyville with their virtual Scion brand, the xB. The virtual car proved to be very popular with Why We anticipate educational and learning-based virtual residents but not all of them could afford to purchase worlds to be a growth area in late 2009. In particular, them. the field of peer-to-peer learning presents some unique opportunities. The demand to accessorize A trend seen across all virtual worlds, regardless of the targeted age range is the demand by people to customise their avatars. Just as in the real world, ‘virtual people’ want to dress Commenting on the campaign, the President of up their avatars to express their personalities. As a Numedeon Inc said: result, all virtual worlds offer the functionality to change hair styles/colours, skin types and clothing. Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 26
  27. 27. Contact lens company Acuvue has also placed their brand into a virtual world opting to go into There. This campaign was an element within a project initiated by CosmoGIRL magazine. CG teamed up with ABC’ America’s ‘Prom Queen’ show to host a virtual prom. For real-world brand owners in the clothing, fashion Residents of There were able to visit the venue and and accessory sectors, this presents a massive purchase virtual contact lens to accessories their opportunity to only present their brands into the kids avatars. and tween marketplaces but also generate brand-new revenue streams derived from micropayments. Further support here was provided with events and themed parties. There are several brands already immersed into virtual avatar customisation, with Stardoll being a prominent Simulcasting and events metaverse facilitating it. In 2007, Turner Broadcasting Services (TBS) signed an agreement with virtual world Kaneva to being their Within Stardoll there’s an area called ‘Starplaza’ - think media content in-world. of it as a virtual shopping mall. Several brands have Under this agreement, one of the first activities was shops inside Starplaza and sell virtual versions of real augmented into the 2008 Screen Actors Guild Awards. world clothes and other items. Taking place in LA, the awards show broadcasted in Two examples are DKNY and Sephora. Both virtual real-time the footage from the red carpet into a stores have designs based on real world stores and specifically-designed venue in Kaneva. This allowed show clothes on mannequins. The Group Managing residents to watch the action as it happened. Director of LVMH (parent company of Sephora) commented: Taken from the press release: “The millions of members of the Stardoll community are “In addition to watching the Screen Actors Guild a group of great relevance to the future of our brands Awards Red Carpet Pre-Show at tbs.com and tnt.tv, and it is exciting to be able to interact with them in their fans worldwide can now walk the SAG red carpet inside space. In bringing the exceptional style and offerings of the 3D virtual world of Kaneva. DKNY and Sephora to Stardoll, we hope to further enhance the experience for their members and to gain Set to take place in the 3D TNT backlot inside Kaneva, valuable insight into the virtual world that will benefit the event will allow fans to create and dress their our brands and our current and future customers,” avatars in high fashion, walk the carpet, watch live interviews of the hottest celebrities on the Hollywood Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 27
  28. 28. red carpet on multiple in-world screens, mingle and They have taken several of their shows and re-created chat with friends and even participate in a red carpet the environments virtually, allowing residents to photo shoot.” explore these venues and socialise with other fans in the same place at the same time. This particular strategy may well evolve into a genuine revenue opportunity for brand owners. The flagship venue in vMTV is Virtual Laguna Beach. Taken from the launch press release: As the concept of event re-creation and simulcasting gathers pace and popularity, it could be possible to "Viewers can hang out at the beach or shop at the local actually charge a ‘virtual entrance fee’ to attend these surf store and interact with one another in ways that events. mirror the on-air program," a press release from MTV Networks touted. "Just as the cast gears up for the What’s really exciting in this instance is the possibility winter formal, so too can viewers within 'Virtual Laguna for unlimited numbers of people to attend the events. Beach' prepare for the big night, find a date online and select the tux or prom dress for their onscreen identity." Extending the relationship The point here is that being able to shift viewers from Many people say that kids live in ‘their own personal passive viewing into an interactive environment worlds’ most of the time anyway! means they spend more time ‘engaged’ with a brand. With the advent of virtual worlds, this concept can And time is the key factor here. Spending time with a actually be taken to the next stage by creating brand means you create a sense of association with it environments based on real world places and/or - a relationship between two entities. fictional places shown on TV or in film. And, by this relationship being ‘fed’ by virtual context and interaction, one has to assume that the individual vMTV is probably the pioneer of extending the then becomes more likely to watch the program the relationship between viewers and programs with their next time it’s on. suite of virtual worlds. So, think of virtual worlds as a technique of driving return viewing audiences and extending the program relationship, if done correctly of course. There’s also a sense of inclusion related to being able to walk around a location you would normally only experience by watching the program - it brings you closer to the content. Another upside is the opportunity to introduce third- party brands into an already branded space. Laguna Kids, Tweens and Teens in Virtual Worlds: A KZero Worldswide Case Study. Copyright 2006 - 2009 Page 28

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