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Monday, March 19, 2007 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Interface

Flowplay site will let teens "express" their inner selves

What: Seattle-based Flowplay

Who: Derrick Morton, co-founder and CEO

Employees: Ten, including contractors

Game: The startup is developing an online social-gaming site targeted at 13- to 17-year-olds. Participants create identities, choose their games and interact with others. They play on the same team and learn how to work together.

Financing: About $255,000 in the bank, from owner financing and angel sources. Revenue is expected from premium memberships (standard play is free) and advertising.

Personality transplant: Players create an "avatar" they can dress up and buy things for from the virtual store. They can also project characteristics onto it. The avatars then interact with other players' avatars. "This is a place where people can express themselves," Morton said. "If they are shy in real life, they can be extroverts. If their parents make them keep their hair short, their virtual self can have long pink hair and wear anything they want."

Inappropriate behavior: Flowplay is attempting to make its environment safe. Players can make only approved moves and gestures, and 500 words are on a censored list.

Admission price: Now running in "stealth" mode, restricted to those receiving a secret URL. A closed beta is expected next month, for which the company will invite select participants. An open beta program is set for June. Those who want to participate should check www.flowplay.com.

Channeling energy: Morton doesn't think gaming promotes aberrant behavior, saying computers and software won't turn people into something they are not.

Charles Bermant

Copyright © 2007 The Seattle Times Company

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