Angry Robot

My Thoughts on DGamer

Disney has launched their new social networking system aptly named DGamer today along with the first compatible title Prince Caspian. Basically, this is a completely safe and secure way for young DS users to interact with one another, share stats, share game bonus items like avatar costumes, do polls, and simply get more from their gaming experience.

I know, I know why does one need more than the game itself? Because that’s just the way entertainment is going. You can’t just have a book, you need a movie based on a book, then a video game based on the movie. You need websites for books and comics, tv and film. Facebook, MySpace pages, all for upcoming movies to entice the youngins. Basically, if it only exists in one form then it really doesn’t exist at all. Do I agree? Not always, but I understand that the current trend is for media to exist in different dimensions.

Moving on, how does it work? Simple, you sign up at DGamer and set up your account. This is for kids so parental supervision is needed in order to sign up. A registration email is sent out and then you log on using WiFi to the DGamer network. You set up your avatar and away you go prancing about looking at leaderboards and stats. I’m just concerned with how I look at the moment…Once you get that sorted you can hop into chat with friends if you have their friend info or into the public chats.

I went in there and talked with a dude for a bit and it was fun for being a total stranger because the chats are loaded with emoticon animations for your character so I was dancing and jumping and cheering to no end. It was fun! But more so if I had someone to talk to that I actually knew. You don’t get full chat opened unless you have an actually friend code, not just someone on your friends list. Much like a Wii friend code you need to really know the person to have full chat unlocked and then you can type anything. The other two levels are restricted for certain language and phrases and there are human monitors as well. The most basic chat level is all predetermined greetings and phrases that you click on to use, plus the emoticons. From the press release:

Kids can either communicate using a predetermined list of words and phrases called “Speed Chat,” through modified free-form typing that blocks inappropriate language or suggestive phrases called “Speed Chat Plus,” or via “Open Chat” which requires an exchange of a True Friend Code outside of the DGamer system. employs several safety features to ensure all chat communication is moderated for safety.

Disney is on the ball with this and if I was a parent I would feel pretty okay with my kid using these features. Much more so than the rabid free for all of the Live universe.

Of course, what’s at the heart of DGamer is connecting kids to Disney content in a more direct way and ensuring brand loyalty for years and years to come. I mean I loved Winnie the Pooh because I watched the movie and had a few of the books. Nowadays kids can get the book, the toy, the movie, the show, the website, the game, the bonus unlockables from the game which open up even more of the website, and then give exclusive extra content from the show/movie. It’s a cycle, vicious maybe, but a solid damned fine cycle of concentrated content for Disney fans.

So what do I think of this baby-Live? Well, I really do think it’s a safe and dandy way for kids to experience social networking without involving stupid things like how many friends they have and what their likes are and make it into an online popularity contest that can make some kids feel extremely estranged. You like Caspian? You’re proud you beat the game with 700 flawless battles? Well, you can chat with people who think that’s cool too and even give advice on how you did it. Plus you get a shiny Honour for doing so and have your name on the top of a Leaderboard.

I think that is fantastic for any gamer kid and I’m happy the option now exists for players of Disney games.