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Wallace and Gromit creator launches kids' virtual world

Aardman Animations, the creators of the British animated duo, launch a virtual world for kids called WebbliWorld.

Fans of Wallace and Gromit, get ready to say "cheeeeeese."

Aardman Animations, the creators of the British animated duo, on Tuesday launched a virtual world for kids called WebbliWorld. In true Aardman fashion, the site is graphically rich and whimsical, letting kids create their own Webbli character, play games, earn "Webbles" or surf Web sites like the Dinosaur Directory.

The site has an eco-bent, too. According to Aardman, which teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund: "Our friendly characters introduce important topics such as the environment, climate change and recycling in an accessible and memorable way. Here, kids will learn without even knowing it!"

Virtual worlds for kids are all the rage. Sites like Webkinz, Club Penguin and Nicktropolis have exploded in recent years, with millions of new users as young as six. Aardman's entrance into the market shows that more creative talent is getting behind animated worlds online.

Still, it's unclear as to how well Aardman will keep the site safe for kids, given that anyone can join. But, it said, "Children must create and name a character who represents them. This protects their identity, promotes creativity and, let's face it, is much more fun! As part of our safety procedure, every user who registers is required to provide certain personal details and an authentic e-mail address."

In addition, its staff moderates content posted to the site with the help of an outside firm.