Nicktropolis to focus on games, video

Nickelodeon wants to help kids live among its brands online.

Viacom-owned cable net today is launching Nicktropolis, a new virtual community focused on games and video featuring characters like “SpongeBob SquarePants” and “Avatar.”

Similar to other online worlds popular with kids, such as Habbo, Nicktropolis denizens will create virtual representations of themselves with their own living space in the digital city. They can then find games to play, enter areas centered on Nick shows, and interact with other kids if they have permission from their parents.

Move comes as Disney is prepping a re-launch of its Disney.com Web site with the same goal of immersing kids in a digital world full of its properties. While the Mouse House site won’t be a “virtual world,” it also features games, numerous parental controls, and achievement points to keep kids online in order to earn virtual prizes.

Nicktropolis will feature the net’s animated shows aimed at younger kids, not its live action programs for tweens.

Nick parent MTV Networks has been investing aggressively in the Web with numerous acquisitions including NeoPets, IFilm, and Quizilla. MTV recently launched a virtual digital world around its reality show “Laguna Beach.”

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