RocketOn is a San Francisco based startup is making a 2D virtual world you can access across any site through an embeddable widget. They also just raised $5 million from the D. E. Shaw group’s venture capital unit, bringing total investment up to $5.8 million.
In its alpha state, this virtual world is simply a chat widget with some avatars you can walk around the screen with the click of a mouse. You can chat in real time with other people on the network and walk into a variety of themed worlds (chat rooms) with different features. It’s also obviously targeted toward kids, with its fuzzy-looking avatars and chat profanity blocker.
The more complex functionality includes friending, profiles, fame, and items. Each world has an object or character you can interact with (dancing stones, little monster, arcade games). Although, you can unlock more worlds and features by inviting more users.
However, their widget strategy strikes me as odd because it flies in the face of the safety centered walled gardens other kid oriented sites have built to keep kids safe (Club Penguin, Webkinz, and others).
Update: RocketOn updated us, stating that the widget below was part of an experiment in October of last year. Also, the company says “we’re not targeting kids. I know those initial avatars look very Club Penguinesque, but when you see the full system, it will become clear that we’re going for teens and up (15+).” We’ll see how it evolves when the final product is released.