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Stardoll – Your paper doll heaven June 23, 2006

Posted by rajAT in barbie, culture, stardoll, startup.

stardoll.JPGWe all have played with guddas and guddias (dolls) when we were kids. And we were so possessive about them and we wont let anyone go near them. They will be with us all the time :). If someone will touch them then that is the end of world :).

But the digital kids are different, aren't they. There guddas and guddias are digital. They love to share them with their friends. I am touched. New age kids understand that you get positive karma by sharing things :). Ahem ! Ahem !!. The startup behind this is Stardoll.

Stardoll.com a brainchild of Scandinavian-born Liisa. Inspired by her childhood passion for paperdolls, Liisa drew dolls and accompanying wardrobes, and also taught herself web design. Rapidly her personal homepage became a destination for teens. In 2004, with the help of her son, she upgraded the site and called it Paperdoll Heaven.

Stardoll is an online celebrity dress up and community site for everyone who likes fashion and celebrities. Most of the visitors are girls between 7 and 17.

The site offers visitors more than 320 dolls and tens of thousands of garments and accessories and there are new dolls created every week.

Since its inception Stardoll has gained popularity with girls young and old from more than 190 countries. Relying solely on “word-of-mouth”, the company has built a global membership base exceeding 900,000 and attracts more than one million unique visitors a month.

Just thinking a bit more strategically, this is a great example of blue ocean strategy where you think different from the crowd and create new markets. Most of the other startups out there are trying to get the attention of this demographic by dishing out more games or enabling them to socialize with each other better. This can disrupt the existing monopolies of Mattel (Barbie).

Btw it got funded by, none other than Sequoia Capital.


Games + Learning + Society June 14, 2006

Posted by rajAT in augmented, culture, fun, games, technology, virtual reailty.

Lot of research work has started around the world to understand the influence of gaming on the learning capability of human beings. Moreover, the social implications that agls.gif gaming culture has over a society is debated and discussed very enthusiastically.

Games these days do not only reveal fantasy world in the virtual realm but they also inspire new world views in the physical world. For example – My name is Madison is an Augmented Reality Game that allows users to explore and interact with the urban landscape from a range of perspectives. This project approaches the city as a layered environment. Players understand the development of place through the eyes of history, culture and fantasy.

Now how cool will this be. Learning history in such an environment would be so much fun. It is much better than cramming the history books that we all generally do. After the exam the only thing we remember is, "Akbar was a Mughal Emperor". 🙂 We are not able to appreciate the architecture in that era and we are clueless about the paintings and literature.

But in a simulated environment a student will be able to grasp and retain more. Imagine an overlay comparison of Delhi in British era and present era. Using GPS enabled hand held computer, participants take on the roles of both recipient and creator, performance in context. While walking about the streets, they are provided with information that enhances their understanding of the environment and then gives them the tools to create their own interpretations of place. Amazing!!

The need of hour is more events like these so that issues like learning and social role of games do not get lost in building the gaming industry.

FightClub June 4, 2006

Posted by rajAT in culture, fightclub, social, US, youth.
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fightclub.JPGThe 1999 movie Fightclub, starring Brad Pitt and Ed Norton, has inspired underground bare-knuckle fightclubs in US. Youth is resorting to such things to vent out their frustration. They want to feel different by doing something different.

Ivy League degree holders turn into vicious street brawlers in a real-life, underground fight club. They beat each other mercilessly in a garage.Then, bloodied and bruised, they limp back to work in the morning.

Police in certain parts of US, came to know about these fight clubs when they posted the videos of their fights online. Some teenagers were selling DVDs of the videos.They were also caught.

America is a free country, so adult groups go untouched. These fights take place on private properties and nobody reports them. Only if someone reports the fight or someone gets hospitalized, action can be taken.

One of the fighters exclaimed that you get to be a superhero for a night, you have the freedom to do what you want to do.

A sociology professor blames the video games, cartoons and movies. The usual suspects ;).

Though Dinesh Prasad has a different reason. He joined the club because he wanted to get over the fear of fighting. He said it has worked for him. He is a much tougher man now. He has been a regular from last 5 years.

The good fighters always get the glory and the woman.
The full article is here on CNN.