Parent tools and Imagination: Club Penguin style
Club Penguin is launching new tools to help parents manage their children’s online play experience. With the update, parents will be able to view account histories, change the password for the account and chat freedom levels, and, in the future, set time limits for play. More virtual worlds, like BarbieGirls.com, are beginning to promote parents’ areas as a unique feature of the game, and some are even charging for the safety tools. With the near-glut of youth-oriented worlds out there, it looks like developers are marketing as much to parents (the ones with the wallets) as kids (the ones with the demands).
“While Club Penguin offers children a world of opportunity to play and use their imaginations online, as parents ourselves we understand the value of making sure kids also spend time away from the computer playing sports and being with their friends,” Lane Merrifield, general manager and co-founder of Club Penguin, said in a statement.
HAHAHA. I laugh simply because – no GREAT IDEA is thought of once, by one person. Great ideas seriously POP into the heads of at LEAST 7 (that’s my estimate) people. The first one to act on that idea gets the glory. I shake my fist at the gods for timing.
Of course, webkinz and Pirates of the Caribbean Online both already have “parent account” areas, but as progression… well… progresses, as do tools, tech, and ease of use. (Besides, Webkinz parent area sucks. Sorry, but it does).
Oh, le sigh. Soon, soon parental controls of tween and younger sites will be customary. Virtual World 101. Expected, typical, demanded. And ya know what? Good. Put some of the control & responsibility back into the hands of the parents. Nice.
I highlighted Lane Merrifield’s statement because I wanted to share something else with ya. Club Penguin & their imagination offerings. I’m telling you, these people have got the magic. Seriously. I used to be freaked (back in the pre-VW youth boom) that the interweb was going to steal the soul of free imaginative play from youth. I was worried that storylines and structured play patterns were going to hinder any freedom. And then I drank the punch and became a VW advocate. And lately, Club Penguin’s population has calmed any spec o fears lying in the back of my brain from those old days of worry. Why? Because I found TWO events going on of free imaginative play:
The top image is a backyard barbecue with family-styled badminton. Badminton? Yes. Badminton. Notice the fence line (net), tennis rackets (badminton rackets), two separate teams broken into two colors. There isn’t a “badminton” animation for the penguins (let alone a tennis animation), but no worries. The kids mind modeled it. How? They throw snowballs, and it looks like they’re serving. One throws it to a kid, the kid then throws a snowball to another, and the game goes on. No winning or losing it seems. Just playing.
The second image is a SPA. Yes. A spa, complete with tanning beds, mani-pedi chairs, A BATHROOM, a pool/hot tub, a healthy kitchen, and a yoga studio. Crazy, right? Okay, okay – I’ll admin. The spa seems a bit complex and there COULD have been adult interaction (parent, staff, etc). I don’t care. Why? Because while I was in the spa, nearly 30 kids went through. That’s thirty sets of eyes and brains that see the possibility and take it as a role model experience. More spas have been popping up too. Imagination, my friends, is addictive to those willing to let go of rules and accept the possibility. Too freakin’ cool. 😉
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