It was been quite a ride at Digital Dollhouse! We are in full production on the Beach House which feels like I’m shopping for my real house with an unlimited budget. All of us were busy working through our tasks and I would stare vaguely at our member lists-blogging and pasting with hopes of hitting a vein of new user and then BAM!!! we got linked on a girls webgame portal yesterday thanks to an incredibly generous flash artist in London.
We had 1500 new users sign up in one day.
And they played with it! A lot of them stayed on Digital Dollhouse and made rooms and really played with it! I know I shouldn’t sound surprised, after all I’ve been making girls technology and media products for most of my career. But suddenly I had the incredible opportunity to watch over a thousand girls actually play with something that I’ve been thinking about, dreaming about and working towards for almost nine years. For the first time it wasn’t a Barbie/Tinkerbell/major-brand-with-millions-of-dollars product that I was looking at but truly something born of my own head and with the enormous effort of a small and incredibly talented group of people. It was equal parts exhilarating and terrifying. I kept refreshing my screen in shock while the rest of the team seemed puzzled…I mean isn’t this what was supposed to happen eventually? Shouldn’t we be expecting thousands of users playing on the site? Isn’t that the whole point?
But here is the funny thing about working towards goals and dreams. Often there is a fuzzy awareness that one day something might result from the risk taking, begging money from strangers, the desperately hard work and the gnawing anxiety that you might have cratered your career for the hopes of something better. Yet generally that something has a fantastical quality to it. Mine sort of included an Oscar, a smaller dress size and the easy ability to always fly first class. It included fantasies of hundreds of girls playing and naturally progressing to thousands and millions of girls making dollhouses and proudly sharing with friends and family. And it all would take something like…um about two weeks.
Instead traffic and feedback and usage and information comes in drips, drabs and an occasional tidal wave. Instead of learning to swim in life, I should have been taught how to build a boat, crash it and then rebuild a better one, every few minutes. I am not a zen surfer. My creative spirit is not light and cheerful and effervescent. Mine is more like liquid lead, pliable but not something you want in your running shoes.
And the site works in some ways and not in others. Some of the girls from our tidal wave have come back, new users stream in and consultant gurus are demanding that we all (ok especially me) keep our heads down and our eyes towards our ultimate goal-a great, rich user experience. I’m taking my finger off the refresh button, my hand out of the m&m bag and my stomach out of my throat. As of this moment we have 6117 Digital Dollhouse members. Wow.