Launching today and billed as a "virtual world," Nicktropolis (accessible via nicktropolis.com or nick.com) will allow kids to play games, watch video, design personalized 3D areas, and--perhaps most importantly in the increasingly socially networked world--interact with other kids in real-time.
"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," says Judy McGrath, Chairman-CEO of MTV Networks.
MTVN operates Nickelodeon, and with Nicktropolis the latest example, has tried to move aggressively over the last two years to acquire and develop online gaming sites, social-network operations and user-generated content opportunities.
Nickelodeon says its research shows that 86% of kids in the 8-to-14 demo play games online, while 51% watch streaming video (be it TV shows or other content). These are two critical areas of focus for Nicktropolis.
"Nicktropolis is built from our knowledge that kids' interest in social networking is all about gaming," says Cyma Zarghami, president of Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group.
Nickelodeon says it has taken great efforts to ensure the safety of users in the social-networking sphere, including certain information about their child sent to a parent. Parents can also have some control over how, and with whom, a child uses the "chat" function.