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Live Webchat with Club Penguin founder, Lane Merrifield on Monday 5th July between 1.30 and 2.30

(61 Posts)
RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Wed 30-Jun-10 14:36:55

Club Penguin is one of the fastest growing virtual worlds for children aged 6 - 14 and many parents will be familiar with the sight of their children's Penguins waddling through the virtual world, throwing parties in their igloos or chatting with other penguins.

Lane Merrifield, alongside colleagues Dave Krysko and Lance Priebe, co-founded Club Penguin in 2005. The site development was self-funded and designed as a safe, ad free, online playground for the children in their lives to explore (the site was later bought by Disney in 2007).

Lane as a father of two, co-founder of Disney Club Penguin and executive Vice President of Disney Online Studios is joining us and able to answer any questions parents might have about Club Penguin. Whether it's starting a business, setting online boundaries and making sure your child is safe online to what Club Penguin membership means or why your kid's Puffle ran away, Lane can take your questions and provide answers to those that might not have been fulfilled through Mumsnet Talk. Join Lane here next Monday at 1.30 and if you're unable to join us but have a question you'd like to ask him, post to this thread.

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 06-Jul-10 17:55:52

Hi SparkleRainbow, Sorry you missed the chat - I'll certainly pass on your message and the name of your son on CB - fingers crossed something turns up smile

Dear RachelMumnet

I missed the live chat with Lane yesterday, as I had to go to the hospital with my son. Lane asked for my son's club penguin name so he could give him "something". If it is not too late, could you let him know that my ds name on clubpenguin is nikkicassie. I appreciate that this may not be possible, and I am being a bit cheeky asking, but it was such a nice gesture, and my ds would be thrilled.

Many thanks for you time.

LaneMerrifield Mon 05-Jul-10 14:48:59

Thanks everyone for taking the time to ask questions. I really appreciate the opportunity to connect with so many parents in one place.

LaneMerrifield Mon 05-Jul-10 14:47:44

stoppinattwo, I'm not sure why your child was banned. If you haven't heard from us after a couple of days, feel free to resend the email. Like everyone, our email servers aren't always flawless. We also recieve 5,000-10,000 emails per day and although we attempt to answer all of them the same day, sometimes that isn't always the case.

LaneMerrifield Mon 05-Jul-10 14:43:13

Finbar, I'm sorry to hear about your sons experience with the EPF Field Ops.

As that was only launched a few weeks ago, it seems we still have a few bugs to work out. I was told this latest mission was easier to locate and we will work to make sure the experience continues to improve as we recieve feedback from kids and parents.

Katisha Mon 05-Jul-10 14:42:54

Thanks Lane - DS will be delighted to get your answers!

RachelMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 05-Jul-10 14:40:38

The hour is over - Many thanks to Lane Merrifield for joining us today to answer our questions.

LaneMerrifield Mon 05-Jul-10 14:39:39

Thanks for the idea deepdarkwood, we do consider making a younger version at times (and I'll have to ask the folks at Disney abou the 10% ), but we have usually landed at instead, trying to find a way to make the existing experience more accessible so that siblings can play together and not on separate worlds.

pugsandseals Mon 05-Jul-10 14:38:01

Thats made DD very excited - thankyou!

LaneMerrifield Mon 05-Jul-10 14:36:29

Regarding your question, paisleyleaf, Islandsofsordor is correct. You do not need to be a member to enjoy the Nintendo DS game to the fullest.

LaneMerrifield Mon 05-Jul-10 14:34:51

Katisha had a few questions.

Unfortunately Captain Rockhopper doesn't let any other penguins sail with him on his ship so none of them have ever been to Rockhopper island.

Yes, there are plenty of secret items all over the island, hidden in various catalogs, as well as within the world. We always work hard to make sure a certain percentage of items have to be "discovered."

Regarding the background, Billybob doesn't have one yet, but hopefully in the future.

Lane

Rafi Mon 05-Jul-10 14:33:25

Thanks, I'll let her know grin

LaneMerrifield Mon 05-Jul-10 14:30:02

You're very welcome, I'm so glad to hear she enjoys it!

Tell her not to worry though, he's more afraid of her than she is of him.

Rafi Mon 05-Jul-10 14:27:27

Hi Lane

Herbert is my 9-year-old DD's favourite villain - she loves the spy missions but hides behind her fingers when he appears!

Thanks for giving her a lot of fun.

LaneMerrifield Mon 05-Jul-10 14:25:18

Yes, deepdarkwood, obviously that is an average across all of our players who span a fairly wide age range (6-14) so the time online does vary.

My DS-8 will usually spend about 30 min at a time, but he's also been playing it for a few years, so he just logs in to see what is new.

LaneMerrifield Mon 05-Jul-10 14:22:39

Sorry PlumBumMum, I don't know when Gary will show up next, but I am sure we'll announce it in the blog before it happens next.

For Pugsandseals, Herbet is the only antagonist on the island. He is a vegetarian polar bear who hates the cold and is angry that he is stuck on Club Penguin island. He's a bit like our "Grinch" who doesn't hurt anyone (being a vegetarian and all) but he is grumpy so the secret agents do need to help keep him in line.

LaneMerrifield Mon 05-Jul-10 14:19:21

Hi SparkleRainbow, thanks for the message. I'm so sorry to hear that your ds has been in and out of the hospital this year. I'm glad to know that Club Penguin is helpful even in a small way.

Regarding your question about the trading cards, they are still availible, although the store you were looking for them in may not carry them anymore. I believe they have them at ASDA or WH Smith here in the UK. You can find more info at our website under "Toys" section.

Regarding membership, we do always try to have free elements for everyone and actually launch several free items every month. They are not always launched at the same time as the catalogs, but usually at parties and events so that everyone can feel included. Do you mind providing your sons "penguin name" (no password please). I'd like to give him something for being such a trooper.

Lane

deepdarkwood Mon 05-Jul-10 14:15:25

Wow, I'm amazed your figures suggest kids are usually on for less than 10-20 mins at a time ... how is that average calculated - does it ring true for you?

I guess ds is still at the stage of using it to play games> as a social tool ... and they (esp the wonderful spy games) take him forever!

pugsandseals Mon 05-Jul-10 14:13:21

Question from DD (age 7):-

Why does Herbert P. Bear always get upto mischief?

(Have no understanding of this question myself but I trust you'll know what she means wink )

PlumBumMum Mon 05-Jul-10 14:12:53

Sorry I know we are only allowed 1 question but ds is soo excited that I can ask you a question, he wants to know when/where/how to find Gary the Gadget guy?

Many Thanks Lane for a safe fun place for our children to play and practise their computer skills.

LaneMerrifield Mon 05-Jul-10 14:11:18

Thanks PlumBumMum, I'm glad you asked. All of our memberships are additive meaning you can enter the card anytime you want and the time just gets added on. You do not have to wait for it to expire.

LaneMerrifield Mon 05-Jul-10 14:08:55

MathsMadMummy asked about the importance of social skills and weather or not virtual worlds were impacting that.

First off, it wasn't a rude question at all, I get it all the time.

As I parent myself, I know how important it is to regulate "screen-time" of any sort. My son has an allotment per day that he can choose to use watching TV or playing games like Club Penguin. Personally, I prefer him playing games (even if its not CP ) because at least then I know his brain is engaged in reading, problem solving, communicating, etc. The truth is that most of our audience spend less than 10-20 minutes per session so that means the vast majority of their day is focused on schoolwork, socializing, playing outside etc.

That balance was so important to us, that we were one of the first childrens games to install a parent timer on our site. Which gives parents the tools to determine exactly how much time they want their child to spend on Club Penguin. This can be found in the parent log-in on the site.

I've seen some research by Jackie Marsh who has some articles that would be worth looking at if your interested in more detail on the subject.

PlumBumMum Mon 05-Jul-10 14:06:04

Ok understand, but dd1 got 6 month membership for christmas, if I had bought her another 6 month card for her birthday would it add on to the end or does she need to wait until nearer expiry date, if so would the card still be valid, iyswim?

LaneMerrifield Mon 05-Jul-10 14:01:16

Some of you have asked about the membership items not being available after the membership expires.

We made the decision a long time ago to have a very liberal refund policy on our membership in an effort to build as much trust with parents as possible. Unfortunately this meant that some people would take advantage of it by purchasing a membership, aquiring all the member-items and then canceling and refunding their membership.
In order to dissuade this behavior, when a member cancels, we simply put their member items into storage and all will be activated again once the membership is renewed. No items are ever "lost" or removed, they just can not be used until the membership is reactivated. It is no different than your cable subscription or magazine subscription. Hopefully that makes sense.

LaneMerrifield Mon 05-Jul-10 13:58:32

Thats very exciting, tell him "Billybob" says hi!

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