Disney’s Club Penguin Island comes out today, and a whole icy world of fans are ready to waddle on! The original Club Penguin shut down, but the whole Club Penguin game is rewritten and comes out as the new mobile app, Club Penguin Island. Scroll down for the video!
When the news broke that Disney was shutting down the original Club Penguin, fans were devastated. For many players, Club Penguin was a “crucial part of their early internet experience,” and the shutdown was seen as the “end of an internet era.”
USA Today points out that today’s university and college students were the first Club Penguin players when Disney launched it in 2005.
The kids loved the chance to hang out virtually with friends as they spent “hours playing mini-games or in the various rooms on the servers, chatting to friends online.”
If you haven’t yet run into a penguin in your neighborhood and don’t have any tweens already loving the game, you may not know about the unique avian-themed fun space that is Disney’s Club Penguin. The Club is primarily a social network and virtual world where kids take on a penguin persona and “Waddle on” in the cold, but friendly, arctic. It’s also a ton of fun if the pre-teen waddlers are to be believed.
There was a collective sigh of relief when Disney announced that the new Club Penguin Island would appear soon to take the place of the much-loved game. Club Penguin Island differs in a few ways from the original game, but Disney representative Kyle Laughlin assures us that the new Club Penguin includes the “best elements from the legacy Club Penguin.”
The most important change is the transition to a mobile-only app, “designed for the next generation of players who have grown up on mobile devices,” says Laughton.
Disney took this approach as one tool in their security toolbox, to keep kids safe. Laughton emphasizes that Club Penguin island will maintain and enhance “the safety features parents have come to trust.”
Club Penguin Island, like its desktop predecessor, is intended as a social space for middle-school kids, and producers want to ensure that there won’t be any problems with adults or older teenagers using Club Penguin to target the younger crowd.
Rebecca Warden is a spokesperson for Disney Canada, and she explained that designers for the new app have “taken all of the learning from” the legacy game and existing mobile products to come up with the new mobile Club Penguin Island security system.
“We want Club Penguin Island to be a really safe and inclusive place,” Warden says. The safety begins with a “safe names” policy for new penguins and includes peer helpers right from the beginning.
According to the iOS app resource page, appadvice.com, security measures on the Club Penguin Island app include “secure log-in and protection of your child’s private information, filtered chat, report player capabilities, and live moderators.”
Another aspect of that safety focus is the expressivity and inclusivity helpers they’ve put into place. There are new emojis and chat starters that help kids express themselves and open conversations in a comfortable way.
It’s not always a simple thing to find the right words to say, and in the virtual world, it can be even tougher since participants in a conversation don’t have any visual cues to go by. With Quick Chat, players can start a safe and easy conversation using pre-populated words and phrases to help as conversation starters. If an interaction starts feeling wrong, the live moderators are always there to facilitate getting it back on track or simply to extricate penguins from a frosty situation.
The strong encouragement on expressivity doesn’t stop at emojis and conversations. There’s a whole new clothing section where kids can create their own fashion-forward penguin outfits from a huge variety of mix-and-match. There are templates, fabrics, and decals to choose from so that each penguin can dress to really give other waddlers a good sense of who they are.
The design options are part of the paid membership choices, but the good news is that there’s a “generous community vibe” on the island and a lot of the paid props can be shared with non-members.
Buying a pizza-slice for you penguin? Throwing a party? Penguins can grab a whole pizza or a pizza pinata to share with others who can’t purchase the treats for themselves. A player can even get a party blaster to benefit the whole island. When you throw the party blaster up, it bursts open and rains free coins for everyone.
The fansite, Club Penguin Mountains, writes about the fun of sharing goodies on the island.
“My favourite supply is the ability to give players (regardless of membership status) food and drink for them to enjoy. These are known as sharing trays and are epic!”
On the expressivity front, players are encouraged to “express what matters to them in a way that is respectful of everybody.” Even political activism is okay so long as all the penguins treat each other respectfully. Last fall after Donald Trump won the election, Trump protests erupted all over the world. Penguins waddled on with anti-Trump signs too, and the town square Donald Trump protest garnered a lot of interest from “retired” waddlers.
In other signs that the kids in Club Penguin care deeply and are paying attention to what’s happening in the world, penguins sent thoughts and prayers to the victims of Hurricane Katrina and a whole swarm of penguins showed up wearing pink during breast cancer awareness month.
A built-in way to engage with social action is the coins for change option. Players collect coins through challenges and adventures, then choose to make donations to real world causes with game coin. There’s “a lot of very positive social engagement” amongst penguins.
[Featured Image by Disney’s Club Penguin Island]