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Teens talk about Online Communities

I think it’s safe to say that with Club Penguin, Toon Town Online, Pirates, Pixie Hollow and other popular online role playing sites, The Walt Disney Company has invested a lot of money in online communities. These games are more than just a revenue stream for the mouse, they’re the front lines of interaction for a new generation of Disney fans.

Ypulse, which tracks youth marketing and media, has asked some of its teen participants to talk about their experience using similar online communities. I found this one from their advisory board member Julia to be very insightful. Kids invest a lot of themselves in these communities, they work hard to get around limits put on their game play and interaction, and they still miss Disney’s Virtual Magic Kingdom.

Do you play any of Disney’s MMORPGs? If so, which one, and what do you like about it?

4 thoughts on “Teens talk about Online Communities”

  1. I play Fairies and Cars Online with my kids. We all played VMK and miss it very much. My 11 year old also plays the Nickolodeon games, Club Penguin, Webkinz and Build-a-Bearville. She is 11 so she likes the shopping. There is very little I like about the online games I have tried. PixiHollow is a Beautiful game, the art is amazing. Cars is still in its Beta phase so we will wait to see. Unfortunately since VMK was my first online game experience, no others have been able to measure up. The closing of VMK also made me shy away from getting to attached to virtual items because they can be gone with the click of a mouse :(

  2. My daughters (now 12 and 15) spent a lot of time with VMK, and were tremendously sad to see it go. That has probably contributed to our utter LACK of desire to try any of Disney’s other online communities – it’s the one way in which I’ve ever seen Disney break faith with young people.

    My girls still talk about VMK from time to time, and I have to admit I miss playing Pirates and the original Fireworks game. It used to be a great stress reliever for me, and I would often be in the line in from of the castle, waving as it closed for the night. When VMK shut down, we captured a lot of screenshots and made photo collages for the girls of their rooms, friends, etc.

    We also enjoyed the in-park quests at WDW, and stopping in at VMK central on Main Street USA. What a neat feeling to be “in” on what VMK was and visit a physical touch-point with what otherwise was simply a virtual world. It was too bad that Disney missed out on merchandise opportunities – quite unlike them!

    All good things come to an end, and in the long run it was probably a “life lesson” for my girls to see it go and deal with the transition, but Disney handled it very badly.

  3. my older daughter (now 15) was on VMK and she loved it. I have two younger one a girl 11 and a boy 9. The 11 year old started on her father and i about signing her up for Facebook — (then her younger brother began to nag us as well). The fact that a couple of lax parents in our school district has not helped this — as they are letting their kids go on the mayspaces and Facebooks even though the minimum ages are 13!!!

    Then one evening I attended a school talk on cyber-safety — the woman who was very knowledgable explained that just saying NO can often be worse that you really need to offer kids alternatives. One of the sites she told us about was this facechipz website — and how it works as an invitation only site — and there is no search.

    When I mentioned it to the kids — they reminded me that I had initially told them “no” to the facechipz site — but having a change of heart, we all checked it out. We registered and now they are on it pretty much every day. They really have taken to it (and their friends as well). It seems pretty safe (they have a swear word filter) but also its hip for the kids because it looks like facebook JR.

    So I guess this facechipz is the new VMK? Has anyone else had the same experience?

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