Friday, March 28, 2008

Handipoints Thinks a Virtual World Could Make Kids Do Chores in the Real One

If your kid’s obsessed with Webkinz and Club Penguin but you can’t get them to do their chores, you may want to take a look at a new entrant into the virtual worlds scene called Handipoints.

Founder Viva Chu started Handipoints in January 2007 with the notion
that chore charts would be both more fun and more effective if they
were moved online. So he created a site with two main parts: one that
helped parents track how their kids helped out around the house, and
another that consisted of a virtual world on par with the other
pseudo-3D services kids have come to enjoy.

These two parts work closely with one another to create sufficient
incentives for kids to do their work. When kids successfully complete
activities (such as cleaning their room, taking out the trash, or even
brushing their teeth and eating an apple), they gain either of two
types of points: so-called “handipoints” that can be redeemed for
real-world items such as Nerf guns and toys; and “bonus points” that
can be used to buy virtual goods in the online world. Parents determine
which type of point, and how many of them, is rewarded for good

Setting up a system for kids to redeem points for physical goods (or
money) was easy enough; all they had to do was hook up Amazon’s APIs
and create a custom storefront. But a significant effort has gone into
creating an entirely new and appealing virtual world, one that’s
replete with different settings, activities, items, and other users.

Like Webkinz, kids can walk around the virtual world and talk to
each other using canned chat (where you pick statements from a list
instead of typing them). This prevents inappropriate behavior. The
graphics are impressive and the functionality is rather sophisticated.
In addition to buying items and socializing, users can play in-world
games and watch movies (these require points, too).

Handipoints has raised $800k from Charles River Ventures and several angels - Keith Rabois, Georges Harik, Gady Nemirovsky, Robert Fanini, and Aydin Senkut.
It’s been in beta since November 2007 and has gained 150k users so far,
with 3.5 users per family on average (that breaks down into 1 parent
and about 2 kids). Most of the service’s virtual goods are free, but
the company plans on making money through selling premium goods to
parents who want to make them available for their kids.

Article Link

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