I’ve written previously about how the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has embraced innovation to raise awareness of its cause.
Now Childline, which merged with the NSPCC last year, has created the Childline Zen Garden room in Habbo Hotel – a virtual community for teenagers. The child protection charity hopes that its three-month stay in Habbo (until May) will allow it to reach out to the young audience in their natural browsing environment.
The room was unoccupied when this screengrab was taken as all ‘Habbos’ (the user-created avatars) were in school at the time.
The charity will host events and activities on Habbo aimed at getting young people involved in its anti-bullying campaign, Don’t Hide It.
Rebecca Newton, Safety & Moderation Manager for Habbo’s creators, Sulake Corporation, told me that there’s a promo on the Habbo UK website about the Zen Garden room. This is the primary way of pushing traffic to partnered areas – along with word-of-mouth.
Habbo UK now attracts 750,000 players aged 11-18 each month, according to this BBC article.
Emily Knee, NSPCC’s digital project manager is quoted as saying…
It is imperative that we talk to teenagers in their own environment, much of which is online
She hopes the partnership with Habbo will drive traffic to the NSPCC website, as well as encouraging members of the community to take part in polls and design an anti-bullying themed room.
The NSPCC previously ran some interactive ads on Habbo (as well as Mykindaplace and Bebo).
Habbo started in Finland in 2000, so pre-dates Second Life by three years or so. It’s probably the first successful virtual world this side of the pond.
I like the look of the two-dimensional Habbo. It’s more colourful than Second Life’s 3D environment – and hence, more appealing to teens.
As Rebecca put it:
There’s no peer pressure to look “older” or “cool” since we’re all 2-inch pixelated characters.