Archive for the ‘entertainment’ Category

Mining for Awesome: Metrics to Identify Your Community

January 26, 2011 2 comments

This fine young man has a different type of impact on the community.  He impacts more users … without his participation, about 2% of the community no longer participates.  He does not impact the total oxygen of the community as much, in other words, he doesn’t impact the number of tweets or number of conversations.  But he does bring along 2% of the community.  And his impact lasts through the forecast cycle, meaning he impacts new participants as well.

This exercise can be run for every user in a community.  We can easily forecast what impact each user has on the overall future of a community.  By looking forward, we get to see what might happen, and we can take steps to change the future.  When we simply look back into the past, we only measure what happened in the past.

In this simple example, when we remove just two users from a community of about four hundred weekly participants, we lose close to 8% of all future activity in this community.  In spite of a ton of new users, these two folks, @michelehinojosa and @immeria, foster a wonderful and vibrant community.  That’s a decent measure of influence, don’t you think?

Kevin Hillstrom: MineThatData: Hashtag Analytics: Removing a Member of the Community

(Received in Twitter via @TiffanyRichison – my AMAZING Community Lead, who scored it via @TheCR and @mindthatdata)

Over the last year there have been THREE huge benefactors to understanding an audience that I feel like I can’t stress enough:

1. Avoiding the operational FAIL WHALE (oh man, do I have withheld rants on this)
2. Understanding that a competitive site in this industry must have diversity in everything (from gaming, to customizations, to approaching an audience)

For a few short minutes here, and I stress short, I simply must ramble about the importance of metrics and how our industry HAS to step to bat and start finding the value of users NOT just the abuse.

And when I say “our” industry – I mean specifically the CS, Moderation, and Community.  We need to TOTALLY BFF-up our Metrics peeps… and if there aren’t metrics peeps at your biz, then you need to step up to bat and figure out enough of a base line understanding regarding metrics and analytics to be able to support what you do.

Why? WE’RE EXPENDABLE.  That’s a lie.  I know it, you know it, but there are many a board member who don’t understand why CS & Community & (more specifically) Moderation staffing/tools/practices are so important – POST launch, when the belt gets tighter and the big bucks are takin’ a bit longer to roll in.

We’re just people who manage people – anyone can do that… interns can do that, right? PUUUUUUUUUUUKE.

WRONG. UGh. Shudder. Frustration + fist at the sky with some sort of user engagement battle cry!  Just because you have a background in marketing – that doesn’t mean you have that GUT understanding, nor ability to read a community.  Marketing folks can spin statements and emphasize the value of advertising and approaching product, but it’s not the same […feeling another tangent coming on. Must jump off this tangent path, my apologies].

What was I talking about?  Oh yes, Metrics.  Analytics.  Whatever you wanna call it – basically, this day and age those of us people-people need to have back up.  Stories are fun for conferences and for nailing a point home.  Leaderboard-esque insight into top players is great to show your front-line knowledge of the audience’s ability.  Social media platforms and conversations are great for keeping the product within fingertips of users everyday conscious.  But when it comes to number crunching – dude bettah getz some backup. For realzies.

So far, metrics have been great for game designers and registration flows.  It’s been great for microtrans and heatmaps (which, may I say – I love me some well developed heatmaps).

Blargh – OKAY, I’m biting off more than I can blog-chew at the moment.  I’m going to kinda filter through my metrics conversation from the big point (overall metrics and their importance), and wittle it down to SPECIFICALLY moderation + community necessity.

Finding ABUSE
– Individuals who abuse the system / community / experience
– What is the individual abuse (on a case by case, report, basis)
– Brings questions of WHY individuals abuse: is it the lack of game? Is it the drive of the content?
– Is it a growing group behavior?
– What exactly is the abuse of this growing group behavior?
– Brings again the questions of WHY individuals abuse: is it the lack of game? Is it the drive of the content? Is it the lack of appropriate competitive interaction?  CAN YOU FIX THIS?

Finding VALUE
– Individuals who represent the best of the community
– Individuals who engage from within
– Individuals who lead by example
– *Individuals who seem to be the best of the best, but actually become somewhat cancerous in their righteousness and maybe should be used as a best case
– Groups who lead by example
– Groups who promote desired community efforts
– Areas that promote desired goals for game or specific area
Individuals or areas that can help promote the MONETARY VALUE OF UPGRADING (via microtrans or subscription)

Remember – you want to gently lure and entice users into becoming monetary assets… and not just monetary assests but SUPER USERS.  For as gross as statement from a “purest” perspective as that is… YOU CANNOT RUN A GAME WITHOUT INCOME.  Just can’t.

Why would you just use metrics for landscapes and game agendas, or finding bad users?  Dude – it’s the day and age of community! Of social media!  Own it.

Just as this AWESOME article above points out – not all users are just “good” or just “bad”… Use metrics and analytics from:
– Chat (a filter that reads positive chat and associates percentages, a chat filter that reads abusive chat and associates separate percentages)
– Interactions (Community event item clicking and purchasing metrics, guild-grouping, chat submissions, logins, time spent online, friending, time spent in social areas, time spent in gaming areas, time spent multiplayer gaming/interacting, leaderboards, time spent in “home” areas customizing, etc)
– Friending – viral quality outside of game, as well as inside the game.

If you are in the MMO or VW space… I would SERIOUSLY suggest taking a moment to have a solid “think” regarding understanding the bookends of your community, and the elements that drive the bulk middle either direction over the course of their experience.  The more you can automate that process for your moderations, customer service reps, and community managers – the stronger / swifter / and better the process will be for you!!  You will still need the insights and stories and multisocialmediaextravaganzamadskillz of community pro’s – naturally.  But you also need number crunching and proof of pudding products.

So, my dears, in this slightly confusing, probably ADD fueled post – my point is this:
Community and Moderation and CS folks… go rogue for a moment, totally ninja-BFF any metrics/analytics people on staff.  Make tools or practices that will help you to find the value, find the abuse, and back it up with the best kind of numbers you can find… AND THEN use your mad community skills to help understand why numbers show what they show, and improve your audience, your product, and the WORLD.

Make sense?  Hope so.  If not, as always, leave a comment at the beep……



Engage! Expo Conference Prezzie

September 27, 2010 1 comment

Hello, hello. Long time no talk. Yes, I realize this, and I send my apologies.

Last week (Sept 22nd), I spoke at the Engage! Expo conference in Santa Clara on User Engagement – aka, the art of engaging users (specifically online gamers 13 and younger, although you could argue for a General rating).  It wasn’t one of my most stellar performances, I drown a bit in having FAR too much to say… but I successfully rambled a few decent points & tales, and hopefully shared some new understandings as well.

I am always grateful to the Engage! Expo team (Tonda you’re amazing), and it was great meeting some new people.

Now, prepare yourself for some Heavy. Duty. Slide. Action.  I Powerpointed it up HARD CORE (my speech teacher would be throwing ninja stars at me if he knew).  Luckily, many people have contacted me asking for my Powerpoint slides… so, I am providing a video of them here.

Questions, comments, problems, scenarios, rambles, quips, complaints, queries, and soliloquies should be directed to the comment section of this post.  I’ll do my best to get back to you.

Things I’m kickin’ myself for leaving out: Monetization and the “velvet rope”, How to use live staff well,  the Parental Unit, and The fine art of event planning and support.  Thank god there’s always future conferences – I can do a “Part Two” slide set 😉

The Conundrum that is Planet Cazmo

August 2, 2010 6 comments

Planet Cazmo is going to partner with Fox’s Teen Choice 2010 awards and entertainment mogul Tony Mottola to create a custom virtual environment called the Virtual Teen Choice Beach Party. The special virtual environment will be directly accessible from a link on the Teen Choice Website. The Teen Choice 2010 awards will air August 9 at 8 EST on Fox Users will be able to visit the virtual beach party after casting their votes online.

In the Virtual Teen Choice Beach Party, users will be able to design an avatar and a virtual home. In the virtual world, users can chat, play mini-games, virtually dance, and even purchase virtual goods. One of the goods for sale will be a branded good shaped like the award show’s signature Teen Choice Surfboard. This won’t be the first virtual event Planet Cazmo has developed for a major brand or celebrity partner. Previous projects developed by Planet Cazmo were primarily virtual concerts or music-themed, though.

Virtual Teen Choice Beach Party

Okay… So, wow.

First, I do find it absolutely RAD that Planet Cazmo has broken the start-up, non-uber-brand IP curse and managed to score such a marketing bonanza as TEEN CHOICE AWARDS on Fox.  That’s kinda huge.  Brings in the eyeballs – aka, sudden brand awareness.

For the last two years I’ve watched Planet Cazmo score quite a few influential contracts with big music peeps… They’re freakin’ email machines – no one sends as many newsletters as this site… seriously.  There is always something going on it seems.

The art is easy, not too complex. The world is expansive (almost too expansive, but they try to pack everyone into the same server- providing the PARTY! feel of busy-busy).

Again, I’m still floored by their marketing department and promotions… well played for such high profile awesomeness.

PROBLEM: I just logged in as a minor and was able to share “my” phone number (or, ya know, the Empire Carpet guy’s number, five eight eight two three zero zero), “my” address (or, ya know, the white house), amongst other things.  Then I created another account, logged in, and watched myself say the same content all over again (aka, the public can read it, its not just author-only jedi-mind-trickin’).

At least they caught “shadows are as dark as holes” – but as holes, for as swarthy a curse as it is in kid land, is NOT A LEGAL PROBLEM.

I can’t believe I just logged in, approved my “child” via email plus, and then passed out faux-personal information.  What the what?!  AND THEY’RE GOING UBER-PUBLIC WITH A TV SPONSORSHIP!  It makes me very, very nervous for them.

Talk about disappointed.  I’ve been dealing with several companies lately that are looking to ensure that they’re sponsorships/partnerships/etc with youth virtual worlds are LOCKED DOWN and safe… why the heck didn’t Fox check into the legal nature of Planet Cazmo?

I’m still absolutely astounded that I could give addresses and phone numbers. Baffled, even.

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Taking a moment to GEEK OUT: Muppets

February 10, 2010 Leave a comment

As you know the script for the film was written by Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall, How I Met Your Mother) and Nicholas Stoller (director of Forgetting Sarah Marshall), the movie used to be called, The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made, the film is now called, The Greatest Muppet Movie of All Time, which is definitely a much more positive title.

They’re story follows a man named Gary, his girlfriend named Mary and the man’s life-long nondescript, brown puppet best friend Walter must round up and convince the now retired entertainers from the original Muppet Show to help save the famous television studio that the original variety series was filmed in. The film’s evil villain, Tex Richman, is due to take over the property, and wants to destroy the theater and drill for oil underneath.

Now, thanks to The Playlist we’ve got some more information on the script for the film and what we can expect. Here is a part of their review:

It’s a solid attempt at recapturing what made “The Muppet Show” and the first two Muppetmovies so great, but “The Great Muppet Movie of All Time” is no “Great Muppet Caper” — ‘Caper’ being to the first Muppets film, what “The Empire Strikes Back” is to “Star Wars” — but it is a fresh, younger approach. Stoller and Segel have fun with the characters, are aware of what made the Muppet early years so great (winks to the audience, friendly musical numbers, single gag repetition, friendship and togetherness being the answer to everything), and hit the mark 65% of the time. We’re hoping the songs (the majority of which were missing from the script) help elevate the script from a harmless Muppet flick to a more memorable one, but there’s more work to be done first. But what their script lacks (oddly enough, this being a Muppet movie and all) is forward pulse. “The Muppet Movie” is about a frog’s drive to get to Hollywood and the people he meets along the way and the friendships he makes.

The person that read the script definitely isn’t 100% sold on the script. Perhaps the script he read is a first draft and has since been polished. I’m still holding out for hope that it will end up being a good, solid, fun Muppet movie. Make sure head on over to The Playlist to read the rest of the review.

more-details-on-jason-segels-the-greatest-muppet-movie-of-al.html from – StumbleUpon

Yes: I do realize that this isn’t the “most glowing” of script-review previews… but I don’t really care (yet, of course – if its crap, hell hath no fury like an izzy scorned).  My heart just skipped several beats. I officially do not need coffee now.  If a girl could possibly geek out over anything more in the world… there is little that could possibly bring about the glee and joy I am currently emitting.

Ya know, I was psyched for Where The Wild Things Are, and still LOVE that property with all amendments and additions and awesomeness (I have very long, ramble-y tangents about why I still believe in what Jonze did, and the overall WTWTA awesomeness, but they’re best left for another time).

I love the muppets. I am a muppet – or as close to a muppet as possible without actually being made of felt and some stranger’s hand.  So forgive me as I take a rather lengthy moment to explain why I – and many of you – could be considered a muppet, and then another moment on why this future edition of the Muppet Movie could be, in fact, like a moment of pure unadulterated youthful bliss – if delivered the way it seems to be promised.  So forgive this momentary blog entry, a partial love-letter, in a way… to the Henson (may he be praised).

Like I said. I am a muppet. Hi, nice to meet you.
There are many versions of Muppets in this world – and many wannabe muppet-puppets.  Lambchop, you are not a muppet.  Clearly.  Howdy Doody, sorry bud, not a muppet.  Elmo, not a muppet.

errrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, rewind. Yes, I said Elmo is not a muppet. Okay, okay – you’re a muppet, Elmo, I just tend to believe that the Henson (may he be praised) would never have okay-ed a muppet that a) has a “breakout star” attitude for a show about community, b) have a “Me” first attitude, c) look-at-me, look-at-me, show & tell character format, d) is so babyish.  Say what you want about the nature of Big Bird and his young voice – but he never seemed to revel in anything babyish, he was always about growing and learning and love and support.  Clearly, I have deep seeded issues about Elmo, like one does with a backwater cousin (aw snap).

Anyway – I’m getting off on a tangent here about Elmo that probably will get me in trouble one day with some Elmo-fan.

As I was saying, I am a muppet.  So might you be?

Outside of my direct family, the entity that affected me most in life would have to be the worlds and lessons and community of Jim Henson (may he be praised) (we’ll leave my TV family, the Cosbys, and the epic Disney for other conversations).  Henson, in many ways, taught me:
1. Acceptance (of yourself, and others, yet the push to reach for your dreams and not accept what you don’t want for yourself)
2. Cultural diversity (I’ll have to ramble on this particular point some time)
3. Simple lessons (near, far – COME ON, it’s BRILLIANT)
4. Love & Friendship (you can complete anything with your friends)

And most importantly: Community (the sum of 1 – 4)

Community was at the base of anything I’ve ever seen from Jim Henson (may he be praised) – it was about people: diverse, unique, the same, friends, soon-to-be-friends, group triumph, etc – the story of “together”.  I may be a “kook”, but I’m not alone – there are other like-minded (or complimentary alternative) kooks that you’ll come across in life.  Acceptance of others is also, sometimes, acceptance in self – love people for what they bring in your life, and the adventures they accompany you on, and the support they provide – and oh, the laughs of it all!

It takes all kinds of people in life – all kinds!  And if Jim Henson (may he be praised) not only presented this concept to you, but also empowered you to express your addition to community, both large and small (whether it be with silliness, creativity, support, and/or acceptance), then yep – you might just be a muppet too 🙂

Now, enough about me explaining my muppetude.  After the Henson passed (may he be praised), the Muppets (all Muppets) had a heck of a rollercoaster ride – what with Sesame Street going one direction, and the Muppets (Piggy, Kermie, Gonzo, Foz, et all) going quite another (finally ending up in the lap of Disney).  There have been many movies – some cute (I do love Muppets Treasure Island), and some slightly lost at the heart (Muppets From Space), there have been television shows (the two attempts at reviving The Muppet Show), and many, many commercials (Piggy supporting Pizza Hut… um… Sausage Pizza, Piggy… not ideal for you).  Somewhere in my soul, I can’t help but fear that the Henson wouldn’t be too happy to see his creations hocking Disney products – or any product, for that matter.  Some Muppets were created (Jim Henson Creature Shop simply must be a magical place) for alternative programing (I seriously began watching Farscape only for the muppets), and keep alive a beautiful form of art that CGI seems to want to destroy (ugh, don’t even GET me started on how I feel about the lack of muppets in Star Wars: Ep 2 & 3).

For the last year, The Henson Company and Henson Studios have been slipping further and further into the new age of viral content – and THANK GOD FOR ME.  From Twitter – @hensoncompany & @muppetsstudio, and @muppetnewsflash and @muppetcentral, to Youtube –, where they’ve been delighting muppet-loving-viral-audiences with hilarity – on the street vids, music vids, Waldorf & Statler doing what they do best, and clips.  This is the first time in a LONG time that I’ve seen the original Muppets doing what they do best – silliness and fun.

But there’s no connector piece – no full-stage, chaos.  No collection of diveristy & no drive forward in some representation of teamwork, community, and sense of togetherness that can be seen in the old TV show, or in the movies – the review that Playlist has in the clip I snagged above clearly points this out.  Adventure – the linear path of adventure.  The beginnings and middles and sad-to-be-leaving, endings.  This is the make or break for Muppet movies that seem to achieve the tone we all like, but feel “flat”.

I watched the “director’s commentary” version of Forgetting Sarah Marshall a year or so ago – and I particularly remember the mention that Jason Segel is a HUGE muppet fan, and that he geeked out massively when he got his Drakula muppet (um, who WOULDN’T, I mean, really – IT’S A MUPPET, a girl could only wish!).  I can’t help but feel that Jason Segel is of muppet origin, just as I claim to be (perhaps, a wee different version, but still).  I commend anyone for taking on a massive undertaking like a Muppet movie – for me, it’s like drinking my own koolaid and trying to predict what happens next.  In other words, I couldn’t do it, not faithfully, and I’d get WAY too caught up in playing out stories, like an 8 year old with her Barbies, to be able to give it a fitting and concise story.  I’d want it all, neverending, and repeat, lol.

I really do hope this movie gives a fitting nod to the Muppet dynasty. Really, truly.  Sometimes I wonder if the youth today are benefitting the way I did from the Henson (may he be prasied).  How horrible it would be to be raised without Cookie Monster who eats COOKIES (not freakin’ fruit), Big Bird and Telly, Oscar the Grouch, best buds Ernie and Bert, and Snuffy – both imaginary and real, Kermit and Fozzie Bear, Ms. Piggy (who came to my 8th birthday – best visitor ever), and my BELOVED Gonzo, not to mention Sam Eagle, Waldorf/Statler, the entire Muppet show ensemble, Ludo and cast (The Labyrinth), and all of the realistic characters from The Storyteller – which, had one of the LARGEST impacts on my imagination of all time (save that story for another reason).

Okay, I’m realizing I could keep going with this… I should probably end awkwardly now with no closing point, as I feel this topic is going to keep bubbling up over the next year. But before I do:

Please feel free (if you made it THIS far in this love-letter-ramble) to comment on your favorite Henson reprocussions of your life, or in general!!  I’d love to hear it.  I’m fascinated with how one puppeteer subtly altered our generation and entertainment….

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NFL Agrees: There are some issues for Teens with digital dating

February 5, 2010 Leave a comment

NEW YORK, Feb. 4 (UPI) — The National Football League Players
Association has joined Family Violence Prevention Fund to stop digital dating abuse, the union said Thursday.

The NFLPA and the FVPF have launched a national public service
advertising campaign designed to help teens recognize online dating
abuse and prevent it from happening with e-cards called “That’s Not

The campaign invites teens to create their own “Callout Cards” that
can be used to raise awareness of teen dating abuse and win cool
prizes, with the grand prize winner receiving a trip to Washington to
attend players’ gala later this year.

NFL players to fight digital dating abuse –

I’m going to be perfectly honest: I have no idea what this is about.

Things I see & assume:
1. Based on my tenure in moderation: Digital dating (or, more particularly – digital explicit sexually charged conversations) are on the rise, and kinda sketch – and for tweens/early teens in social gaming, these relationships are with people they meet online.

2. Based on what I’ve seen from teens in social networks & real life dating – they are not ashamed of explicit content nor do they hide their highly charged, uber-sexual social exploration (example: a 13 year old relative of mine posted lyrics to a song which suggested the sexual act. Her boyfriend of the moment commented on her status saying, “you mean you wanna f*ck”. Our whole family can see these comments, and neither seem to care).

3. Sports social gaming / etc sites, that I’ve visited, have had the most – THE MOST – aggressive audience, if we’re talking about tweens/teens.  Why?  They’re not getting the adrenaline payoff or euphora-burst they would get from a hard fought game, or from a big-win as a fan.  Due to most of the sites treating sportsfans like adult-kids (stat tracking and not emphasizing the playground crazy love of sports & games), they are looking for social competition – and from there its all an equation, right?

Hormones of demographic + need for euphora + competitive drive + strength and determination + excitement + social environment + boredom + mixed gender avatars of cartoon-cuteness = forms of dating abuse? …Perhaps… It might be a leap, or it might make sense… up to you how you want to swallow that pill.

4. The current plight of mega-star athletes and their, ahem, discretions (and inability to stay faithful, perhaps? …Tiger, Shaq, Kobe, and the many, many football players who are outted in the press – wasn’t there a football player killed last year by his mistress?)

Whatever the NFL’s reasons for this campaign – I say thank you.  I like to believe that every little bit helps, and if the NFL wants to help an image, I think this is a smart path.

Why?  Technological education is NEEDED – but not just “math blaster” education, but a variety of support that reflect digital lives AND offline lives.  This is an excellent example, just as Sweety High’s youtube videos about cyberbullying and netiquette.

Problems teens/tweens are experiencing online are now very much reflecting problems offline, and vice versa.  Finding new ways to educate and empower youth to protect themselves, build a voice, find a mentor, become a mentor, protect others, better themselves, believe in the systems surrounding them, etc… the better off we will all be.

Long story short, I’m hoping for good things of this initiative, and I hope they don’t drop the ball (muhohahahaha, sorry, i love with a pun works well with a story).  There’s something here, and it’d be nice to see the NFL support it for the long haul, and with a boisterous voice, yeah?  None of this “PR” schtick and hide.  Fingers crossed.

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Connect Safely Kids’ Virtual World Safety Tips

January 11, 2010 1 comment

Virtual worlds are online spaces where kids create avatars (kind of like cartoon characters) through which they communicate, socialize, learn, shop, play games, and generally express themselves. There are hundreds of virtual worlds on the Web aimed at users of all ages. Some aimed at young children have controlled text chat, “profanity filters” to block offensive or sexually related chat, and staff or contractors moderating user behavior – you’ll want to check for these safety features. Parents also need to know that there are worlds kids can find and access which are not designed for them.

As with all kids’ online experiences, the No. 1 safety practice is routine parent-child communication. Keeping it low-key and frequent helps our kids come to us when stuff comes up. The most likely risks in kids’ virtual worlds, just like on school playgrounds, are cyberbullying or peer harassment and social-circle drama – including clubby behavior and kids playing “teenager” and talking about “boyfriends,” “girlfriends,” “breakups,” etc. The latter escalates and gets more sexually charged as they head into middle-school age. Language filters help, but kids can be creative with workarounds (see below). The main thing you need to know is that virtual worlds are user-driven: Positive experiences depend on users’ behavior toward each other and how well the space is supervised. Here are some pointers for safe, constructive in-world experiences.

Connect Safely |Kids’ Virtual World Safety Tips | Safety Tips

I truly suggest you head over to Connect Safely’s tips for navigating kid virtual worlds as a parent (and kid). 

Anne Collier, esteemed author, is amazing and is always watching these area with her eagle eye and brilliance. 

The trends and behaviors of kids online are always changing, and yet not changing at all.  It’s  like a tag cloud – there are all sorts of behaviors a foot and they’re always floating around… they just take turns in the “who gets to be the biggest issue”.  It’s never a stale world, my friends – probably more cyclical than anything else, but there you have it… kids. Lol.

I can’t stress to you HOW IMPORTANT it is to understand many of the safety tips that Anne points out.  SHARE THEM. Seriously…. SO MANY PEOPLE ARE SEVERELY UNDEREDUCATED or MISEDUCATED regarding the crazy world of web social media.  It’s easy, it’s hard, its crazy, and it’s exciting, and all shades of each. 

Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeease pass that link to any / all of your friends with kids, working with kids, etc. 

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Wowza: Designing and practice for kid sites

January 8, 2010 Leave a comment

How would you like to design a beautiful, colorful, stimulating website that is captivating, memorable, and allows you to let your creative juices flow without the need to worry too much about conventional usability and best practices? In today’s web design market, it’s rare that such a project would present itself — unless you were asked to design a website for children!

Websites designed for children have been largely overlooked in web design articles and design roundups, but there are many beautiful and interesting design elements and layouts presented on children’s websites that are worthy of discussion and analysis. There are also a number of best practices that are exclusive to web design for children’s sites — practices that should usually not be attempted on a typical website.

This article will showcase a number of popular commercial websites targeted towards children, with an analysis of trends, elements, and techniques used to help keep children interested and stimulated.

Designing Websites for Kids: Trends and Best Practices – Smashing Magazine


I can’t go into a ramble, as it’s Friday and I’m a busy-busy gal.  However, its definitely FANTASTICAL for the amount of content the author goes through. Seriously – check it out.

And to you, Mr. Louis Lazaris, thank you for creating such a jam-packed info-share!! Props.

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Lookie Lookie: Wizard101 has the cookie!

January 7, 2010 Leave a comment

One game, however, stood out among the rest as the Best Family Game of 2009. The nominees were:

  • Club Penguin
  • Free Realms
  • Fusion Fall
  • Maplestory
  • Wizard 101

The Winner: Wizard 101

Wizard 101 has been heralded as the kid’s MMO for adults. The game is geared toward a younger audience with its playful characters and cartoon graphics, but don’t be fooled by its exterior. Inside Wizard 101 is an intense MMO that uses great special effects for spells, daring and risky card game style combat, and a fun universe to explore for players.

The reason Wizard 101 takes home our Best Family Game of 2009 is because kids can play it with their parents and no one will be bored. Hardcore MMO players have come forward and said the game is fun and exciting to them as well.

Wizard 101 : Best Family Game of 2009 – Wizard 101 for PC at MMORPG.COM


YAHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  I am really pleased with this out come.  For as much as I still nod-in-appreciation to Club Penguin, this is really a well-deserved win.

Think about it:
Wizard101 came from an independent company without broadcast support (aka, no big dog marketing pushes, like Disney / Cartoon Network / MTV / Sony, etc).  It was smart enough to find an IP that could be both independent in content & game play, but also capitalize on a desired-yet-missing brand (HARRY POTTER, PEOPLE). 

It’s got boy game play, girl game play, school play, card play, and it effectively finds ways to suck a wallet drive (subscription only gets you so far – potions & rides/mounts are extra $$).

It’s the MMO I play as often as I can, and because I ENJOY playing it – not just for work / research.

What I’d like to see Wizard101 do in the next year?
1. Make houses more important – why do I care I’m in the Fire house? Why do I care others are in the Fire house?  Give me reasons to be Fire-House-Evangelist in the game, please!

2. Change the chat set up.  By “redding” out the words that I cannot use – you are giving me clues to work-arounds.  OH, I can’t say “dork”? Well then, let me try “door k” DONE. Thanks red for telling me WHICH WORDS weren’t allowed, and confusing me other times when you’re not allowing me to say something I need to say (like “fizzling”).

Other than those two wee things – keep on keeping on, Wizard101. I’m psyched for you!!

ON a SIDE note… why the heck is MapleStory in there? Um, last time I played that game a guild named “Pedophile” was causing rukus through the servers… Kids swear like they’re afraid its going out of style, it’s Ad Mad, and it’s not family appropriate.

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Digital Downloading in Diapers

January 6, 2010 Leave a comment

According to the NPD Group’s study of women with children age 2 to 14 in their household, marketers need to focus their marketing campaigns as much on the parents as they do the children. Why? Because 43% of children obtained their first digital download at the tender age of six, or under.

NPD Group: Digital downloading starts age 6 and under – Trends & Ideas – BizReport

The article also states: 79% of children age 2-14 have obtained some form of digital or physical content.

Wowza. There you have it – they just keep getting younger and younger.  Digital education for both YOUTH and FAMILIES continues to be more and more important.

props to ypulse for the find.

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Top Points in the latest FTC Report

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

This is pioneering stuff on the part of the US government. The Federal Trade Commission today sent to Congress its close study of 27 online virtual worlds – 14 for children under 13 and 13 aimed at teens and adults – looking at the level of sexually explicit and violent content and what the VWs were doing to protect children from it. I think it’s important for parents to keep in mind when reading the study or just the highlights here that “content” in virtual worlds means user-generated content (which is why, in “Online Safety 3.0,” we put so much stress on viewing children as stakeholders in their own well-being online and teaching them to be good citizens in their online and offline communities). Here are some key findings:

As I rambled (extensively) earlier, the FTC report has been making its way across the web today.  The oh so wonderful Anne Collier at has picked up the pdf and given it a good read over… click the link above to read her top points.

I’m so jazzed to see what comes of these findings, and how they improve digital citizenship, or enlighten those who did not realize the power of TEXT online.


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