Club Penguin is an online virtual community owned by Disney, and aimed at children aged six to 14 years of age. Users create a cartoon penguin to represent themselves in the colorful world – set on a snow-covered island. Once registered, they can take part in a number of simple activities and games, or interact with other users via text-based chat. These messages are typed and they appear in a speech bubble above their penguin’s head.
Users navigate through the locations in Club Penguin by clicking where they would like their penguin to go. Reaching the side of a screen will usually take the user to a new location. Alternatively, an on-screen map can be used to move instantly to a main location like the ice rink or beach. Activities are also controlled by the mouse, and clear instructions are given before the start. Some younger users may require assistance with the games and activities on offer, though for the most part they are designed to be very simple to play.
Participating in any of the dozens of these quick mini-games provides users with Club Penguin’s virtual currency, which enables them to purchase items of clothing (fluffy hats, silly wigs, holiday themed garments) and accessories for their personal penguin. In this way, players are encouraged to take part in a wide variety of activities in order to personalize the way they represent themselves to the community.
With simple movements and clicks of the mouse, penguins can start up a game. Simple instructions are provided on how to play, whether it is riding a tube behind a boat and avoiding objects in the water, or catching bags of coffee at the local coffee shop to help unload the truck. If the player fails, they are always given the chance to start over and can keep playing as many times as they like in order to gain coins.