Poptropica markets itself as a role-playing game that is played online. The game was developed by Jeff Kinney Group and published by Family Network. It was released in the months of July and September of 2007. This is an educational game geared towards children between the ages of 6 to 15. The object of the game is to complete quests called islands. A novel game entails a change in the island, and advanced notice is always given when a new island is created. While completing these quests, children will be required to travel and communicate with each other. Prior to 2010, this was a free game. Currently, membership fees are in existence and start with as little as $3.95 US every month or $10.95 for six months up to $19.95 for a year round membership. Prices will differ according to the player’s country of origin. By simply clicking on your country, the corresponding price will be automatically displayed. Paid memberships have several benefits. You will be able to get items found in the store, quick access to a new island and access to unique costumes for your avatar. By buying Poptropica credits, you can acquire extraordinary abilities for your avatar. If you finish a game, you will win credits. Computer requirements for playing the game include an internet connection, a minimum of 512 MB of RAM including Adobe flash. All games are exclusively played at the Poptropica’s web site.
Children who have played Poptropica will surely recognize characters from Nintendo DS version, Poptropica Adventures. Even though there is no relationship between the online version and DS, the popularity of Poptropica on Nintendo DS makes the game as well as its mission a convincing point for the masses. Poptropica enables you to acquire characters and up to 3 islands with you depending on where you may want to travel and play. The ability to customize your avatars and the effortless way you travel from one island to another will definitely excite all children. While three islands only are available for playing in this version, there are plenty of gaming hours for the children who enjoy customizing their avatar and seeing the end result of the game.
However, if a child has previously played Poptropica, they will surely know other places for getting experience and exploration. The DS version is much smaller than its online version. You will able to travel to different islands, acquire costumes for your character, get artifacts from the museum and play mini-games. However this will soon become monotonous. There are no levels, but you still have to complete mini-games to proceed further. For example, the curator of the museum expects you to gather as many different artifacts but you will not be rewarded for your efforts and no explanation is given as to the purpose of you being on this mission. You are only aware that the curator is a man experiencing memory loss and who does not remember where anything is in the museum. Only a handful set of instructions are provided, directing your movement around the island. You will be allowed to communicate with other characters and some of them might give you clues about where to go, but it’s communicated in code language that is very confusing and frustrating to comprehend. The vivid colors and action-filled sequences may excite some folk, but many might not enjoy playing this game. From the pointless conversations to the constant repetitions in actions that are necessary to play the mini-games, these games were promptly eliminated from the DS collection of games.
New members have to fashion an avatar to act as their own virtual personality. The features can be altered anytime. Avatar names are chosen from non-colourful language choices. Players communicate with each other via a pre-scripted chat. When the Chat is in safe-mode, players choose words from a pre-prepared list. Players purchase items for their personalities may from the store. Most are costumes while others include special abilities. When an avatar finishes a game, they win a medal enabling them to shop at Poptropica store.
The main theme of the game is the adventure that awaits your avatar as he or she completes tasks on each island. These are plots requiring players to solve puzzles and clues from historical event. Some plots might be complex for young players, however several of the islands have been created, there will be plenty of options to choose from as there is ample content available. In July 2011, Poptropica reopened all old islands for players for replay. There are now more than 19 islands for selection.
Poptropica games is a involving role-playing, published by an educational company. It also appeals to children up to age 15. The appeal to small children may be because there is an absence of violence and a non-safe chat. The added bonus is the educational parts and plots of all the islands.
To be able to design an educational MMO that is successful, is quite a feat. It must engage older players. Poptropica’s success lies in its educational component because it includes humor, complex graphics and an intellectual but easy to understand plot. Poptropica is therefore a success!
Another added advantage of Poptropica is that free chatting is not allowed. In a virtual setting, it is next to impossible to moderate a chat room for inappropriate use of language. Poptropica avoided this grey area by only providing a prescribed chat room. The graphics and design of the website are outstanding. The avatars have a friendly personality which will make playing with them enjoyable! Risky behaviours such as drinking and smoking, drug are prohibited. There is next to no violence and a spider is probably the scariest encounter.
Online Safety is where most online chat portals lose marks. Poptropica owners have enabled only scripted chat to counter this issue. Personal information is never collected and it can never be “accidentally” shared.
Parents retain complete control over paying and maintaining memberships. Their safety policy is easy to spot.