Thursday, September 4, 2008

@ Virtual Worlds: Disney Online SVP: ‘If It Doesn’t Matter To Kids, It Just Doesn’t Matter’

The “Disney (NYSE: DIS)
difference” lies in the company’s ability to weave its deep and
familiar library of content into virtual worlds that give kids the
opportunity to participate in their own storytelling, Steve Parkis,
SVP of Disney Online, said at his closing keynote here at the Virtual
Worlds conference and expo in Los Angeles today. Over the past eight
years, Disney’s online portal has transitioned into a place where
people come to participate in a community. “It creates a place where
you never have to leave Disney.” The underlying mantra at Disney Online
is: “If it doesn’t matter to the kids, it just doesn’t matter.”

Neo-storytelling: A sense of place is important for Disney’s
online audience. “Giving you no reason or specific subject to talk
about makes it difficult to do our job,” Parkis said. “If you take that
casual game player, you mix in our ability to take you to places you’ve
never been … add to that your friends … and you end up with amazing
results… We think this is the next version of storytelling.” Parents
are getting involved too. At 8 p.m. Disney typically sees usage flip
over from kid to parent after children go to bed. The former
Atari-fanboy and now proud parent of two added: “I don’t have the time
to train for these games anymore… I stink, I just can’t train enough to
get good at these games so that’s turned me onto casual games.”

Technology: “We took technology and applied it to storytelling,”
Parkis said. “This is very exciting. This is a new way to introduce
characters.” Disney began its online pursuits with a heavy bend on
technology that outpaced its competitors and the industry norm. “Our
R&D was so far ahead of the curve that PCs are just catching up to
where we were six years ago.”

Security: For the past seven years, Disney has utilized a
technology that looks at every conversation taking place on its online
properties, but also has live human moderation 24/7/365. “We’ve
operated very, very big worlds. We’ve also moderated billions of lines
of text.”

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