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Using a virtual world newspaper to enhance in-world community September 1, 2008

Posted by jeremyliew in culture, mmorpg, newspapers, virtual worlds.

The LA Times notes the popularity of the Club Penguin Times:

The Club Penguin Times … is more widely read than New York’s Daily News, the Chicago Tribune or the Dallas Morning News. And it’s not even 3 years old.

But this weekly “newspaper” isn’t tossed onto driveways or sold at newsstands.

Rather, it’s an online publication distributed to the estimated 6.7 million monthly users of Club Penguin, a snow-covered virtual world visited by more than 12 million kids, who adopt a colorful penguin persona and waddle around, playing games and meeting new friends.

Though no one would suggest that the Club Penguin Times provides Pulitzer Prize-worthy coverage, it nonetheless attracts 30,000 daily submissions from children, who pose questions to Dear Abby-inspired “Aunt Arctic,” compose verse for the poetry corner, tell a joke or review a party or event…

As the main source of information about events within Disney’s icy, penguin-populated virtual world, it boasts the kind of reader penetration that mainstream newspapers would envy. At least two-thirds of the players turn to the Times each week to find out what’s happening, Merrifield estimates.

Club Penguin’s CEO., Lane Merrifield, notes:

…he was looking for ways to incorporate learning — what he called educational “fiber” — in the game. Publishing a “newspaper” seemed an obvious way to encourage reading by offering information that users care about, such as the latest igloo upgrades.

In addition, the Club Penguin Times helps create social norms and shared experiences for players – an important facet to creating and shaping a culture in the world. Most online worlds develop discussion boards where the world’s creators have limited ability to shape the discussion. By creating a user generated (but company edited) newspaper for the world, the world’s creators give themselves a powerful tool for controlling and shaping the conversation. People building MMOGs and virtual worlds should read the whole thing.

(Found via via Paid Content.)


1. Kiri - September 3, 2008

What better way to make an immersive world more immersive than by giving it such real-life things as newspapers? I imagine similar stats could be found for the Neopian Times on Neopets.com.

2. Elizabeth Hodgson - September 4, 2008

Re: User generated news:

I just wanted to introduce you to my venture, http://www.indiconews.com.

Based in London and Seattle, we position indiconews.com as an originator of citizen/user-generated content/news via video, image and text for dissemination beyond indiconews.com itself.

We also view the site as a platform, enabling individuals, communities and other organisations to amplify their ‘voice’, spotlighting issues and encouraging debate.

Indiconews.com carries news mapping, a fully integrated Facebook application, plus users are able to embed reports back into their own sites (excellent for bloggers etc).

In short, indiconews.com is a site to empower, engage and enable users anywhere in the world to share their news, issues and community/locality concerns with a global audience – igniting action and reaction.

See for founder biogs: http://www.indiconews.com/founder_bio.php

I’d be more than happy to answer any questions – or criticisms – you have about the site. We’re keen to get all feedback and look at how we can improve and adapt to the needs of the end user.

Thanks for your time – much appreciated!

3. How a brand publication gets more readership than major daily newspapers » didn’t see that coming - September 11, 2008

[…] Via LSVP. […]

4. Virtual world news - October 21, 2008

Very interesting strategy because reading papers or any other form of lenthly documents can be a task inside of a virtual world so a newspaper or online paper can be a good outcome for a virtual world to cover what goes on inside of the virtual world. Club penguin just used the internet as a medium to broadcast news from inside the virtual world.

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