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YIKES: Audience Communication

So… these days, as tween virtual worlds buzz about safety & proactive experiences, I find it interesting that I got THIS push email from Vizwoz – a British virtual world for tween/teens:

Club the Seal game from vizwoz virtual world

Interesting, right?

I don’t know what I find more insulting… the invitation to a game of blood & assault, the “Club the Penguin” which happens to sound VERY FAMILIAR to “Club Penguin” (a rival), the anti-conservative message during a time when the importance of animal conservation (especially in the Artic) is very high, or the tongue-in-cheek barring of U12 kids from playing such a game (which is IN FACT a total INVITE to U12… nothing they want to do more than things they’re not supposed to, right?).

This whole “Not for kids under 12” BS = clever strategy (but NOT necessarily the good shade of clever).  Aside from it’s “Can’t get on the ride if you’re not 5 feet tall” message, again, kids U12 are going to want to act tough and hang with the big dogs and play the game.  It ALSO is a HORRIBLE message for community.  HORRIBLE.  Why?  The “house” (the biz that runs the site) just gave a giant THUMBS UP for community segregation but giving it the good ole nod and wink.  Sure sure, kids know there’s a difference between their social interactions and their age groups and their ‘cool’ levels, but the minute the Powers-that-be give their acceptance of such a divide it gains credit.

When you’re a virtual world trying to bring some sort of comrodery and unity to your experience, why on EARTH would you then drive a giant wedge in the community by calling out the fact that the “kiddies” are not good enough to play a big-dog game?  I know, I know – it’s not like they’re actually BARRING the younger tater tots, but by openly admitting that they build games that are not necessarily appropriate for a valid part of their demographic – that’s just not cool.

What’s worse?  This email goes out to their entire email system… from parents to kids to market peers.  Tut tut, Vizwoz.

Even MORE amazing is how Disney might take this.  Why Disney, you ask?  Well, call me crazy – but I think the Mouse (aka owner of Club Penguin) just signed a deal to provide video content for the vizwoz movie theaters, etc.  Again, tut tut, Vizwoz.

Aim I being over sensitive to this?  Cos I really think this is in poor taste.  I could be… ya never know.  Anyone have thoughts?
Categories: Izzy Neis Links
  1. July 30, 2008 at 4:34 am

    It does really seem tasteless and not that smart for a site that has a lot of younger audience members..

  2. shapingyouth
    July 30, 2008 at 7:20 pm

    Izzy, you are NOT over-reacting…and as I just wrote on Shaping Youth picking up your insightful link to the Disney alliance, I hope the mouse house uses the full force of THEIR CLUB to bop ’em on the head for brand infringement and unethical conduct unbecoming… 😉

  3. July 31, 2008 at 7:21 pm

    OMG! That’s about all I can say on this one… :0

  4. Steve Jobs
    August 1, 2008 at 12:19 am

    I’m not being funny but it’s a game… perhaps we should be more concerned with global poverty, people loosing their homes in the housing slump, the AIDS epidemic?

    Or maybe not…

  5. August 1, 2008 at 4:36 pm

    Here’s the thing, “Steve”….

    This blog is about virtual worlds, gaming, online media, and other such things within youth entertainment – so global poverty & housing slump wouldn’t really fit the theme would it? Go fig.

    And yes it is a game – and if you note, this is more about the “message” of the push email, and what they’re trying to do to engage the users. That’s the issue.

  6. August 4, 2008 at 1:24 am

    And we wonder why our kids are unable to see the scary facts in most games today. Kill, blood, no feelings. We have so desensitized our children. And I fear there is nothing we can do to stop it because there is so much money in the sale of these games.

    Good luck and I support your site……

    Dorothy from grammology

  7. AJ
    August 22, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    This mass-mail was sent out after Vizwoz received emails from some kids complaining that it was too violent, so it was more of a reaction than a push.

  1. July 30, 2008 at 6:47 am

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