Second Life may pull in big numbers, attracting furries, virtual real estate moguls, corporations desperately appearing to appear "hip" and Something Awful forum goons raining penises down upon the unsuspecting, but it's online worlds targeted at kids that are drawing attention from executives. Take Webkinz, for example, the online world that sees wee lads and lasses logging on to the tune of six million uniques per month. That's three times the amount who logged on a year ago. Similarly, according to the New York Times, Club Penguin, which involves dressing up penguins platonically, has seven times the traffic of Second Life.
Everyone's getting into it, for those of you not aged in the single digits, including Disney, Lego, and Mattel. The goal? Shill wares to kids while they play free games, establish brand recognition, then help them "graduate" to the next-generation of online worlds, whether it's Pirates of the Caribbean Online, World of Warcraft or simply fantasy baseball. Oh yes, it's quite dastardly. Good thing I'll be raising my kids with good Quaker morals and no electricity.
Web Playgrounds of the Very Young [New York Times - thanks, Duane!]