Doko: Tween Social Networking With A Twist

Today sees the launch of Doko, a social networking game aimed at the tween market which claims to be “The World’s First Global Trading Game”. The game revolves around metal discs about the size of poker chips that are emblazoned with unique identifying tags. Friends are encouraged to trade discs with each other, which accrue virtual points on the Doko website (these in turn can be exchanged for real-world prizes).

Dokodiscs will be available for purchase at retail stores including Toys R Us. Kids are encouraged to register on a family-friendly social networking site, where they are assigned overly innocuous screen-names based on their favorite number and animal (I was given musmus13, a real keeper). From there, they can enter the codes found on each coin to receive their Doko Points, which can be traded in for prizes. The more often a coin is traded with other players, the more valuable it becomes (though it expires after five trades). The site tracks each coin during its journeys across the world, offering a cartoony 3D world perspective that reminded me of TwittEarth.

The game sounds like it could be a hit, but I’m left wondering what kind of strange effects it could have on its target audience. I can’t help but envision a bizarre, pre-pubescent mafia that will horde and distribute discs in an attempt to maximize profits. Or maybe I’ve just read Lord of the Flies too many times.

In any case, the social networking aspect of the site will likely appeal to many parents who would like to foster their child’s social interactions without letting them graduate to the “big kid” networks like Facebook and MySpace. Among Doko’s competitors for the tween market include Zwinky, Club Penguin, and Gaia. Even Facebook is making attempts to appease parents – yesterday they announced a number of new policies designed to safeguard against sexual predators.

Doko is a product of the Mammoth Brand of NSI International. Mammoth has been responsible for marketing more than $700 million worth of toys.