Teens and tweens are moving away from social networks and becoming fantasy avatars in virtual worlds instead. The latest figures from comScore show that only 11% of Twitterers fall into the 12-17 age camp, and whilst teens originally forged the way for social networking, there are now just 9% of them on Facebook. Second Life was a fad for adults, but for yutes, virtual worlds are a rapidly growing, here-to-stay market. There are now 112 virtual worlds designed for under-18s, with a further 81 in development. These are our top 3 new discoveries.
Planet Cazmo is an online world set inside an alien solar system which is inspired by ‘earth culture’, particularly hip hop. The site has 3m users, a virtual Pop Idol, merchandise you can buy in the real world, and recently announced a collaboration with music bigwig Tommy Mottola.
Lego Universe, which launches next year, is one of the most highly anticipated online worlds, driven by Lego’s cultural renaissance. Lego players will be able to virtually build whatever they can imagine and shown how to bring it to life in the real world. Users or ‘Minifigs’ will also be able to fight, dance Lego-style and meet ninjas and pirates.
GoSupermodel was originally designed for 20something women as a parody website of the modelling industry where you create a model avatar and the purpose is to get dressed and look hot. However, it actually took off amongst 12-year-old girls who approached it rather seriously. It’s now evolved into a Mean Girls-style virtual playground complete with cliques including the Posers, Celebrity Wannabes, Goody Two-Shoes, Emos, and those that seriously describe themselves as Hot Asian chicks. Unsurprisingly, it attracts a lot of perverts too.
Thanks to Ellie Osbourne for this story. Ellie’s fantasy is to be a part-time mermaid.