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.



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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