Television

Nickelodeon unveils virtual community playground 'Nicktropolis'

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MUMBAI: Nickelodeon, a division of Viacom Inc.'s MTV Networks, has launched new kid-targeted virtual community titled Nicktropolis on 30 January. It promises to offer visitors multi-media experience giving them an opportunity to engage in a virtual world filled with web-based activities.

According to an official release issued by the company, (at Nicktropolis, available at http://www.nicktropolis.com/ or through http://www.nick.com/), kids will have their own virtual community where they will have the opportunity to play games, watch video, explore Nickelodeon-branded and original environments, interact with other kids or Nickelodeon characters in real time, and create their own personalized 3D rooms.

"Virtual worlds like Nicktropolis are part of our strategy to bring immersive, relevant entertainment experiences to our audiences wherever they are, and to build communities around our content across every kind of platform," said MTVN chairman and CEO Judy McGrath. "The virtual worlds we've been building across our networks give the fans of our brands the high level of interaction they want with one another, and with the content itself."

Kids enter Nicktropolis by assuming an "avatar" that they design and personalize, choosing from an array of hairstyles, skin tones and clothing styles. Once a user selects a destination, the avatar appears in the particular environment and can move around simply by clicking where he/she wants to go.

"Nickelodeon has a deep connection with kids, and Nicktropolis is built from our knowledge that kids' interest in social networking is all about gaming," said Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group president Cyma Zarghami. "Nicktropolis serves as a one-of-a-kind multimedia virtual entertainment playground for kids that allows them to watch video from our immense library of programming, play games, interact with our characters and safely communicate with each other through controlled chat."

The site offers a 3D environment consisting of four main areas containing multimedia experiences, gaming, and opportunities to personalize their space, create video play lists of their favourite Nickelodeon content, and interact in a safe, community environment. Additionally, the company states that Nicktropolis incorporates numerous safety features to ensure kids' virtual playground experience is as safe as possible. Participation in Nicktropolis relies entirely on the anonymous registration system, which does not allow kids to divulge personal, identifiable information, adds the release.

Nickelodeon's Nicktropolis is MTV Networks' latest move in serving its audiences through original online and wireless content across all of its brands. This follows from Nickelodeon's latest research study, Living in a Digital World (2006), which found that 86 per cent of kids 8-14 are gaming online; more than half (51 per cent) are watching TV shows and videos online; 37 per cent are instant messaging and 12 per cent are participating in chat rooms.

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