|How old am I:||I am still in my teens|
|I love:||I prefer shy male|
|Color of my eyes:||Big gray-blue|
|What is my Zodiac sign:||Capricorn|
|Figure type:||My figure type is strong|
|My favourite drink:||Red wine|
|In my spare time I love:||Diving|
A sk a parent what they're most afraid of when their kids go online and the answer is unlikely to be SpongeBob SquarePants. Few fear that their children will be indoctrinated into a bizarre new society by Nickelodeon's box-shaped poriferan. They're being naive.
Virtual worlds are the new battlegrounds for toy manufacturers, kids TV channels and software companies with an eye on the youth market. It is the classic no-brainer.
These days, kids are so into social networking sites that their parents have to get Bebo s just to call them down to dinner. The same kids are also into videogames and would probably be into Second Life if it wasn't aimed at overs.
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So, combine social networking, gaming and youth-friendly virtual living into one experience and you're practically mainlining your brand into the eyeballs of a whole generation. This was doubtless what Disney was thinking last year when it bought child-friendly online community Club Penguin.
It is certainly what Mattel had in mind when it set up Barbie Girls, an online community based around the popular dolls, which attracted 3 million users within 60 days of its launch. It's on more than 10 million now - impressive, but dwarfed by the massively multiplayer animal-rearing community Neopets and its 45 million pet owners. Now Nickelodeon, which already has a virtual world in the shape of Nicktropolis, is expected to launch two more: one based in SpongeBob's universe, and another named Monkey World, an original IP.
The former will be scarily huge, the latter will have its work cut out, with new kid-centric virtual worlds popping up seemingly on a daily basis. What media companies love about virtual worlds is the opportunity to truly engage with the youth demographic on a symbiotic level.
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It's not about shouting at kids from a TV set any more; it's about creating a world for them, and then subtly loading it with messages. And hey, if you can't set up a virtual world, why not advertise in one? Social entertainment company Doppelganger has just ed a partnership with in-game advertising specialist Double Fusion, which will allow real-time targeted to appear in teen virtual world vSide. Double Fusion CEO Jonathan Epstein referred to vSide as "a place where advertisers can develop powerful interactions with their teen audiences".
The imaginative and social universes children used to create for themselves have now been populated by toymakers and TV networks. Virtual space, head space and ad space are the new holy trinity of corporate manipulation and indoctrination.
And to think my parents worried about me watching Tiswas. Gamesblog Games. This article is more than 13 years old.
Keith Stuart Gamesblog. SpongeBob SquarePants is the latest brand to turn to online social networking. SpongeBob SquarePants.
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