SOURCE: Ridemakerz

RIDEMAKERZ

April 16, 2009 08:00 ET

America's Newest Car Company Unveils Hybrid Fueled by the Internet

RIDEMAKERZ® Shifts Into High Gear With Combination of Real and Virtual Model Car-Building, Customizing and Racing Activities That Fuel New Playing, Learning and Sharing Opportunities for Boys and Their Families

ST. LOUIS, MO--(Marketwire - April 16, 2009) - Today one of the most anticipated virtual worlds for kids, RIDEMAKERZ, officially shifts from test drive into high gear, allowing kids everywhere to take the wheel and spin into action at http://play.ridemakerz.com. The first-of-its-kind experience combines authentic cars, next gen technology, super-charged games, and engaging and educational activities that fuel a whole new world of online and offline play focused on America's fascination with cars.

The online experience builds on the popular real world experience that kids have had with RIDEMAKERZ since it launched in May of 2007, customizing modern-day model cars and trucks, and learning about cars at home or at a RIDEMAKERZ SHOP. THE RIDEMAKERZ Virtual Experience adds a whole new engine revved up for personalized play options. Upon entering, "Customizers" express themselves by tricking out a RIDE with authentic body styles and paint schemes, tires and wheels, lights and sounds, and custom decals and accessories. Online and off, there are more than 649 million combinations! These personalized RIDEZ are how kids travel through three virtual regions:

--  The Open Road, where RIDEZ cruise around and hang at a rest stop to
    watch videos of real car culture activities, such as Big Foot crushing real
    cars and a Viper motorcade
--  Scrap Gulch, a custom parts and car hunter's dusty paradise that was
    inspired by the real world "Iron Triangle" in Queens, New York
--  RZ Motor Speedway, a futuristic race track
    

Within each region are a variety of racing, adventure and strategy games fine-tuned based on feedback from some of the more than 5000 RIDE enthusiasts who test drove the site prior to national launch. Additional games are in development and several are slated for release this Summer.

RIDEZ can be designed for either "SHOW" or "GO." Players can design their RIDE to look cool and show off. And, as typically only found in console games and sophisticated online multiplayer games, partz have been given performance attributes. So the different engines and treadz actually affect the RIDEZ' handling and performance in games. The more competitive the RIDE and Player, the greater chance to earn points that can be redeemed for specialized parts and powerups that ultimately unlock different and more challenging games.

The site also offers educational opportunities. A "RIDERZ ED" section teaches about the history of the automobile, the design and manufacturing process, custom car culture and alternative fuels. It also incorporates videos, so kids can see how cars are designed and then receive customizing tips from Chip Foose, star of The Learning Channel's (TLC) hit show "Overhaulin'" and an advisor to RIDEMAKERZ.

It is free to play and Customizers are awarded with surprise parts, achievement points and RIDEMAKERZ currency, called RZ BuckZ.

The RIDEMAKERZ virtual experience was designed in collaboration with leading game-developer, The Electric Sheep Company, and moves the bar set by previous virtual worlds with an immersive 3D experience that doesn't require downloads or plug-ins. This platform provides:

--  Larger play area offering a fully immersive look and feel
--  More sophisticated, improved quality of game play
--  Higher-quality graphics that increase authenticity and take on movie-
    like qualities
--  Console game attributes to allow a dynamic driving experience that
    puts players in the action
--  Advanced effects like smoke, flames and other particle effects
    (including farts!)
    

Designed with Boys Play Patterns as the Focus

The RIDEMAKERZ virtual experience was designed specifically for boys ages 6-14, who have been largely overlooked by other popular virtual worlds for kids.

"Our real life RIDEMAKERZ experience connects boys and dads, and now we're bringing that same bonding opportunity into our virtual experience," says RIDEMAKERZ Founder and ZEO Larry Andreini. "For example, boys get achievement points and trophies when they complete real world activities like learning about dad's first car, going to a car show, or checking and inputting the tire pressure from the family car. These kinds of hybrid experiences allow boys to play and learn while giving dads a fun, new way to interact and relate with their children."

"RIDEMAKERZ knows boys," adds Lee Nadler, Chief Marketing and Interactive Officer (ZMO) for RIDEMAKERZ. "We worked with boys to develop our virtual experience and every element is designed with them in mind, including the technology. They helped us create region names, games and customizing options. And our activities encourage them to create, explore, compete and achieve on their terms."

Boys in the RIDEMAKERZ virtual environment communicate in a way that is right up their alley, with fun, animated phrases called Z-motes that reflect how boys like to interact. Z-motes are visual, fun and safe. They can include words and graphics, so there's no need for open chat. "Game on," "Eat my dust," and "Sweet RIDE" are all common vernacular, as are burning rubber or shooting a lightning bolt at a friend. This combination of animated visual and text phrases provides both freedom and control, while keeping the focus on what boys like to do best -- play, and what parents like most -- safety.

Connecting Real and Virtual Experiences

Because every virtual part is tied to a real product, each RIDE built and customized in the real world can roar to life in the virtual environment, and a RIDE built and customized virtually can be made into a real toy. Each RIDE built at home or in a SHOP is given a Certificate of Title with a unique RIDE Identification Number (RIN). The RIN, when entered at RIDEMAKERZ.COM, allows the Customizer to cruise the RIDEMAKERZ virtual experience with a replica of the RIDE they built and customized. When starting out online, Customizers can convert any virtual RIDE they build and customize into a real RIDE by automatically creating a wish-list that can be emailed to parents or printed out for friends and relatives. Once purchased by an adult, the real RIDE is shipped unassembled, along with an ignition-key shaped hex wrench, and it can be built in minutes, right at home, with four embedded screws and snap-in, snap-on, or magnetic parts (no glue!).

The selection of RIDEZ includes such popular muscle cars as the new Ford Mustang GT and Dodge Challenger SRT-8, the exotic Dodge Viper SRT-10, the Corvette C6.R and C6RS, tuner cars such as Toyota's Scion xB and the RZ Wedge, the MINI-Cooper S, and everything in between, including retro hot rods, stock race cars, concept and production pick-up trucks like the Ford F-250 SuperChief and Dodge RAM SRT-10, and cab-over fire engines, dump trucks and tow trucks.

"Our virtual experience is much more than fun and games," explains Andreini. "We're finding our concept is serving a higher purpose by helping to connect family members of all generations through the common love of cars. The experience is truly intergenerational. Unlike sports, we offer a level playing field. Everyone is equal when building and customizing a RIDE and everyone has fun."

About RIDEMAKERZ®

RIDEMAKERZ' mission is to have great fun MAKING RIDEZ and FUELING GOOD -- with the ultimate vision of contributing to the positive development of kidz. The RIDEMAKERZ experience is specifically designed to: provide choice, unleash creativity, foster confidence, encourage collaboration, and instill a sense of community. RIDEMAKERZ awards include: First-place for "Best Attraction Retailing" in Chain Store Age magazine's 2008 Retail Store of the Year Awards; "Hottest Retailer" in 2008 by The International Council of Shopping Centers, Inc. and The Henry Award for Best Consumer Outreach presented by the Ford Motor Company. Visit RIDEMAKERZ.com for more information.

About The Electric Sheep Company

ESC is a leading provider of technology and services focused on multi-user, virtual world, and casual MMO experiences. ESC's WebFlock technology is a comprehensive virtual world platform for private-label, Web-based immersive experiences that are both flexible and scalable. WebFlock instances range from lightweight visual chat environments all the way up to complex, rich virtual worlds. Since 2005, ESC has worked with the world's largest brands, media companies, and agencies to design and implement award-winning consumer virtual experiences. ESC clients include CBS, MTV, Showtime Networks, NBC, NBA, MLB, Reuters, Pepsi, Procter & Gamble andmany more. Visit electricsheepcompany.com for more information.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Jeff Bachmann
    (314) 471-8344 or
    (314) 727-5700, Ext. 102
    Email Contact