NEW YORK Jan 29 (Reuters Life!) - First came Second Life. Now there's Nicktropolis, a virtual world for children.
Nickelodeon, the children's TV network of Viacom Inc.'s MTV Networks, said on Monday it would launch a Web-based virtual world for children called Nicktropolis.
Children will be able to create their own personalized 3D rooms on the site, which launches on Tuesday, and move through Nicktropolis by taking on a self-designed 3D avatar similar to those on popular virtual world Second Life, choosing from an array of hairstyles, skin tones and clothing styles.
The site will feature gaming, online video, popular Nickelodeon brands and other elements to help children interact with each other or Nickelodeon characters in real time.
Nickelodeon said the new site would be supported by advertising, though it was likely to start with one undisclosed umbrella sponsor.
Nicktropolis is part of MTV's drive to offer more content online for its younger audiences. Recent MTV Networks acquisitions include NeoPets, AddictingGames.com and Xfire.
Nickelodeon said a 2006 research study, called "Living in a Digital World," found that 86 percent of kids aged between eight and 14 were playing games online.
More than half of this age group, or 51 percent, were watching TV shows and videos online, 37 percent were instant messaging and 12 percent were participating in chat rooms.
"Nicktropolis is built from our knowledge that kids' interest in social networking is all about gaming," said Cyma Zarghami, President, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group in a statement.
Nicktropolis incorporates numerous safety features to ensure children' virtual playground experience is as safe as possible with participation relying on an anonymous registration system, which does not allow children to divulge personal, identifiable information.