A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this site was created as a companion to the Tech Deck line of products by Spin Master and has yet to officially launch. In addition to "skateboarding" online, users will soon have the ability to chat with others (no word if the chat will be controlled with preselected messages or not), post to boards (for now they seem really clean), and send private messages. Although the site is being marketed as a free site, there's a paid subscription program in the works that will offer premium content. The site also has links to both Spin Master and the Tech Deck product site.
What's it about?
What started out as an actual physical toy -- tiny boards called Tech Decks that are used to perform skateboarding moves with your fingertips -- has now moved from the real-world desktop to the computer desktop with TECHDECKLIVE.COM. Here users can shred, ollie, and rip without ever having to actually break a sweat. The site, which has yet to officially launch, will allow members to create their own customized skater avatar who will be able to perform tricks, play games, and chat with others.
Is it any good?
Thankfully, when Tech Deck made the leap from reality to virtual reality, the fingertip skaters transformed into real people, albeit heavily-stylized cartoon skaters. But the philosophy hasn't changed: show off skating tricks without the risk of falling. The danger is removed, but so is the exercise component and some of the fun. The site does best when it doesn't try to be too cool. From the looks of the sample game Dodging Traffic, a Frogger-inspired challenge that's super fun to play, the site should be a big hit with younger skater boys and girls.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about virtual hobbies versus real-world pursuits. Skateboarding seems to be something that would be enjoyed because of its physicality. Do you think a site that allows users to perform online tricks will find an audience? Will these online skateboarding moves require the same amount of skill and practice that real skateboarding does? What are the pros and cons to online and offline play?