Disney’s most popular Virtual World, Club Penguin, has just rolled out a set of new features designed to make the game more social by making it easier for the participants to find each other and communicate. Over 56 million chat messages are sent a day and the new system helps automate part of that process. Another major update allows kids to better organize their friends list.
“We’ve added powerful social networking technologies to the biggest online world for kids, making it much easier for kids to find and connect with each other in Club Penguin,” said Lane Merrifield, co-founder of Club Penguin and executive vice president of Disney Online Studios. “The new Friends and Chat systems are the most significant enhancements we’ve ever made to Club Penguin and we’re just getting started.”
Club Penguin maintains a fun and safe experience by using filtering technology and live moderators. The game contains no third-party advertising and is free to use and enjoy, however a subscription membership provides access to additional features that enhance the play experience. If you want to try Club Penguin for yourself, The Disney Blog readers get 12 months of Club Penguin membership for the price of 8 months.
The press release with more details is below the jump:
Disney’s Club Penguin (clubpenguin.com), the #1 virtual world for kids with more than 150 million registered players, today introduced new Chat and Friends tools. With these new tools, which will begin to roll out today and be available for all users in the coming weeks, Club Penguin has completely overhauled its in-world communications tools, and designed systems to create a safer and more social experience for kids online.
The new Chat system allows kids to communicate faster more efficiently by automatically completing words and phrases as they type. The patent-pending system was developed by a team of Disney computational linguists, producers and engineers, and represents one of the safest and most advanced Chat technologies for kids. It incorporates six years of learning from player behavior in Club Penguin, and includes a database of nearly 300,000 approved phrases in each of the virtual world’s four supported languages globally. Chat has become one of the most popular features in Club Penguin, and each day millions of kids exchange more than 56 million Chat messages.
The enhanced Friends functionality allows players to better organize, find, and visit their penguin friends. The new features change the way kids connect with one another in the virtual world by allowing them to choose best friends and add new friends by searching for specific penguin names. Each player is also now represented with a personalized penguin avatar in the friends list, rather than just their penguin names. Additionally, in the coming weeks, Club Penguin will launch a “jump” feature that allows kids to easily travel to the location of their penguin friends.
More details on the new Club Penguin features follow:
NEW CHAT SYSTEM MAKES COMMUNICATING EASIER, MORE EXPRESSIVE
- CHAT SYSTEM THAT FILLS IN THE BLANKS—The new Chat utilizes a proprietary algorithm that enables players to type only part of a phrase or sentence and have the anticipated phrase automatically completed, word-by-word as the player types.
- HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF PHRASES —Club Penguin worked with computational linguists to design this program as an easy and safe way for kids to communicate. The program currently encompasses nearly 300,000 approved phrases, which have been identified based on six years of Chat history in Club Penguin.
- CONTINUED COMMITMENT TO SAFETY — The new Chat evolves Club Penguin’s screening technology from one based on pre-approved and banned words to a system built on pre-approved phrases. Because every phrase used in the new Chat system has been previously screened and pre-approved, it’s designed to give kids the ability to easily communicate, but not share any personal information or abusive language.
- MULTI-LINGUAL – The enhanced Chat functionality has been translated across four languages making it accessible to Club Penguin’s global audience. The new Chat is available in English, French, Portuguese, and Spanish.
FRIENDS LIST BECOMES MORE PERSONALIZED
- FULLY CUSTOMIZED PENGUIN AVATARS—Until now, the “Friends” lists in Club Penguin featured penguin names only. Now fully customized penguin avatars and backgrounds will represent each friend on players’ lists, and these customized penguins will appear transparent to denote that a friend is currently offline. Additionally, a cleaner user interface will allow players to more easily organize and locate friends
- TAG YOUR FAVORITE PENGUINS AS BEST FRIENDS—Friends who are communicated with most frequently, based on friends who you jump to play with, send a postcard to, visit their igloo, and stampbook with most frequently will appear at the top of the list. Penguins will also be able to tag fellow penguins as “best friends” so they appear on top of their lists. Once a penguin has exceeded 10 friends, they will be able to tag “best friends.”
- BETTER TOOLS FOR LOCATING FRIENDS AT CLUB PENGUIN HOT SPOTS — A new and improved Friends interface will allow players to instantly locate where their friends are in world so they can easily meet up with them, regardless of which server they are using.
ADDING NEW FRIENDS HAS BEEN SIMPLIFIED—Players just need to enter another penguin’s name into the search box and send a friend request.
- ELIMINATE PENGUINS FROM YOUR COMPUTER SCREEN—The Friends list now contains an icon that empowers kids to “turn off” players they don’t want to be contacted by or interact with in Club Penguin. These players can now be completely hidden from a player’s screen, which offers increased protection for players.
“JUMPING” TO LOCATIONS IN-WORLD
- TRAVEL OR “JUMP” WITHIN THE WORLD IS MORE FUN AND IMMERSIVE—Images of penguins jumping into box will appear on screen to showcase their journey to meet up with friends in other locations.
- “JUMP” TO FAMOUS PENGUINS —Club Penguin is making it easier to discover and visit the “Famous Penguins” of the island, such as Captain Rockhopper and Aunt Arctic. When the Famous Penguins visit the world, players will be alerted at random to their whereabouts so they will have the opportunity to “jump” to them to enjoy this unique experience.
About Club Penguin
Club Penguin (www.clubpenguin.com), a product of Disney Online Studios, is the #1 virtual world for children. Club Penguin works to maintain a fun and safe online entertainment experience by using filtering technology and live moderators. The award-winning virtual world of Club Penguin contains no third-party advertising and is free to use and enjoy, however a subscription membership provides access to additional features that enhance the play experience. Club Penguin, headquartered in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada, is enjoyed by children around the world, and can be played in English, Portuguese, French and Spanish.