The client is a renowned food product manufacturer. For one of their brands targeted at kids and teenagers, they wanted to run a promotion that would engage its target consumers in a meaningful way, while increasing their frequency of interaction with the brand.
The creation of a customized virtual world was the perfect vehicle to gain the target group's mindshare. The virtual world was to be a game that would also integrate a strong nutritional benefits message.
Creation of the Virtual World:
The Virtual World has been developed as a multi-player, avatar-based online digital island where children can play games, have fun and interact with each other. The island consists of 150 places where players can customize their avatar, buy funky accessories, play great games, and build up their symbols to talk to other players. As they play, the players earn virtual money which they can spend on new games, cool clothes, travel around the island, and meet other players and interesting characters along the way. There are loads of fun and surprises around every corner.
- Variety of Places: Designing a virtual world with places that are varied and that kids would find fascinating.
- High-end Coding using AS2 and PHP: To create the highly interactive virtual world, where the users' avatars can move around easily and interact with other users, coding was done using ActionScript 2 (AS2) and PHP.
- Multiplayer Server: Working with SmartFox server, a powerful multiplayer server, to create the user environment.
- Load Balancing: Working closely with the client, we successfully met all the requirements for load balancing. Our development team created unique functional structures for the application which allow caching of source content by the cache engine.
- Local, yet Global: The application and the games are localized for over 7 markets, with different languages, and yet the players from all regions can meet, interact and play with one another.
- Various types of Games: Building various arcade, memory, and multiplayer games that are unique in concept and design.
- Educating through Play: Educating the kids (the players) about nutrition in a fun and engaging manner.
- Encouraging Real World Activity: Though Virtual Island developed is a great place for kids to have fun online, it is not a substitute for physical activities the kids should participate in. To encourage this, outdoor game ideas are designed to get the children to move away from the computer and engage in active play. Various games have been developed that employ creative, educational or physical activity that children can do on their own, with a parent, or with friends.
- Making the Virtual Island a Safe Place for Kids: To make the Virtual Island a safe place to play online, safeguards have been built. The only way that players can communicate with each other is by using pre-determined series of emoticons; they cannot draft content independently; and options are restricted to ensure maximum user safety and privacy.
- User Tracking: To learn where the visitors come from and how they interact with the site, and to strengthen the marketing initiatives, in addition to implementing Google Analytics, several custom tracking tools are used to improve the online results, with an easy-to-use interface to view and analyze reports.
- For Kids of all Ages: As Virtual Island is aimed at 8-12 year olds, but can be enjoyed by kids of all ages, the graphic style and music are not overly 'kiddish'
The objective of engaging the target audience was more than met, with the tremendous responses that the site attracted.
Benefits to the Client:
- Cost Advantage: The system was fully developed offshore, with the total costs of the project being significantly lower.
- Maintenance and Further Development: New tasks and changes were deployed without downtime on operational web system.
- New and Innovative Technologies: The platform includes all the up-to-date and unique industry functionality combined in one application.