I-RECALL: Private Surf - John O'Keeffe, the executive creative director at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, reviews sub-club.com

When I was a child, we had flowerpot men and Bagpuss to entertain us. These days, what with the web, entertainment for the seven- to 15-year-old is a bit more sophisticated.

When I was a child, we had flowerpot men and Bagpuss to entertain us. These days, what with the web, entertainment for the seven- to 15-year-old is a bit more sophisticated.

Sub-club.com is an e-tailing and entertainment site for children. But it's also a walled garden that prevents children wandering off.

The site combines 3D chat with e-commerce and has retail partners such as Micro Skate Scooter, Schuh, Kate's Skates and Fonehouse. The idea is that kids are able to buy stuff in a virtual mall, using credits from their account.

One of the most fun features is that kids logging on become 3D characters in the virtual world. They can choose their own nickname, decide what colour clothes they want to wear, and even whether they want to get about on rollerblades or a surfboard. I also liked the navigation system, which pops up as a TV remote control.

The bright colours and simplicity of the site make it straightforward enough to see what's going on and the pages are simple. One quibble: some pages have a bit too much content and not enough space. I also encountered a prompt to install some ActiveX controls. Some parents might not want their kids downloading more software.

In the four chatrooms (fashion, sports, games and coffee), kids can also see their chat buddies in 3D form as they enter the room. Best of all, on Friday nights there is a live chat show with Ant & Dec.

Another small gripe. I couldn't find a shop in the virtual mall to sell me Deep Heat muscle rub or thermal underwear. But then, I am just outside the target audience.



www.sub-club.com

Owner sub-club

Site positioning An online virtual reality portal for children

Launched February 2001

Developed by Parallel Graphics.



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