Creative expression has a new name — Club Penguin. The popular virtual game, conceptualised by Walt Disney, is now accessible to Indian kids. Whether it’s inculcating reading habits, acquiring critical skills, developing better writing abilities or even improving their typing speed, kids can now learn faster, without directly being taught.
On a snow-covered online playground, kids from countries all over the world congregate to play games in real time. “The games are about interacting, sightseeing and learning. But no personal information is shared here, unlike what happens on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter,” says Robb Beeston, head of Disney Online Studios, Asia Pacific.
Kids like reading
Ask him why a penguin has been chosen as the icon and Beeston explains, “Penguins are a perfect example of a well-knit community, so it makes sense for them to represent unity and team work. Also, they are incredibly cute creatures and appeal to kids.”
Individual research showed that the most popular activity on Club Penguin was reading. Games such as Pizzatron 3000, Puffles, Paint by Letters and Book Room help develop positive personality and behavioural skills in kids. So whether it’s making pizzas using toppings of the kids’ choice, taking care of a pet or simply reading a book, it’s all about sharpening their talents.
While Club Penguin aims at self-expression for kids, it also presents an option to involve parents. They can create an account to log in and view their child’s account history. Safety measures are in place too. Beeston says, “Members of our staff understand pop culture and its impact on the youth. If some content is inappropriate, the filter is designed to block it from being seen by other players. Depending on the level of the offence, one might also receive a ban.”
“We’re looking to provide wholesome entertainment whilst maintaining focus on storytelling, creativity and fun, through this platform. A lot of games are creativity-based, so it’s a great learning experience,” says Nitin Chawla, executive director, Disney Interactive Media Group, India.
Available to play in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish, Club Penguin optimises the safety of its online environment through chat filters and live moderators to monitor activities on the site. A monthly subscription fee of Rs 199 is charged in India, but a majority of the games are available for free.