We Recommend: Family-Friendly MMORPG and Educational PC Games
With the kids out of school, I thought I would start summer off featuring some of the existing, new and upcoming Family-Friendly MMORPG PC games as well as some wonderful educational PC games for you parent’s out there that I have game tested on my own 8 year old daughter. Let’s face it, why play outside in the hot sun exposing ourselves to deadly skin cancer when we can be vegging as a family playing video games.
(Just kidding of course)
First up is Wizard 101 by KingIsle Entertainment. This is a 3d-P2P (Play 2 Pay) game which costs $9.95 per month. This game has been out since 2008 but it is an enjoyable game for all ages to play and even better when the entire family plays together. Conquering those dungeons is far easier when you already have a group to play with! Plus, you get a family discount of $3 per person when on a family account!
Your Character chooses 1 of 7 Schools of magic to train within learning certain skills to benefit them best in game. You also have a deck of magic cards you put together to best suit the environment and needs of your team and yourself. This may seem a little tricky at first, but my then 6 year old had it all figured out within the first few rounds of combat. Along the way you complete quests, level up, learn knew magic skills, visit new and foreign lands and seize up the unlimited possibilities at your fingertips in this vibrantly colored fantasy world.
Pros: Has a fair amount of reading to engage your child and keep their brain stimulated unlike television. Is definitely a family oriented game despite your age. Relatively cheap fun, especially with the family discount.
Cons: Can feel repetitive at times. The graphics aren’t the highest quality.
Second is Dreambox by Dreambox Learning. This game is a 2d browser game which costs $14.95 per month. This is a math program for elementary students that make math fun and engaging while adapting to your child’s needs to ensure mastery of their grade level curriculum. What my 8 year old likes best about this program is if she didn’t quite grasp a concept in of the games, she could switch to another within the same area and learn it from a different angle. What I liked best about this program is it is Mastery based, which simply means they will not progress into the next level until they can continually show they understand what they are learning as well as it sends me email notices with graphs and descriptions of what and where my daughter is at.
Pros: Unlike regular school where children progress on a set schedule, this program allows them to progress as they master a specific area building a foundation for the next step. It has a reward system where they earn coins which can be spent to purchase items for their homes or open special games.
Con: It does cost $14.95 a month. Some of the games can be frustrating if your child has difficulty understanding a concept.
Third is Little Space Heroes by Bubblegum Interactive, an independent children’s entertainment studio, and rated for children aged 6 to 12. This is a flash based F2P (Free to Play) but you can upgrade to a premium membership for $6 per month. In this kid-friendly game, players must follow a Space Hero Code of behavior and are encouraged to work together with other Little Space Heroes in completing quests, playing min-games, solving mysteries and discovering what this virtual galaxy has to offer.
Kids will learn through problem solving as they undertake quests and figure out the step by step sequencing needed to complete the task, learn through stories as they watch stories unfold that show how actions have consequences and to confront these situations, approach science learning in an interesting and engaging environment as kids are introduced to age appropriate concepts, build upon a child’s creative imagination as they submerge themselves in design from their virtual home, stories, comics, and fan art, have free access to the Activities and Experiments page where parents can find new ways to peak interest in Science through fun experiments such as growing crystals and building paper airplanes while learning about concepts like lift and drag. Kids even learn Financial Literacy as they earn in-game virtual coins which teaches the concept of earning, saving, and spending. Available in 11 different languages, this game surely will be a big hit this summer for families looking for a safe environment for their younger children to explore the realm of virtual learning and gaming.
Pros: Produced by a company that devotes its time strictly aimed at children focused on what parents and educators want and children love. Relatively cheap premium membership compared to the normal MMO of $9.95 per month. Characters are children-like and very colorful to keep within the 6-12 age genre elements. Is certified by the kidSAFE Seal Program, and has been awarded the Seal of Approval by Family Friendly Video Games (.com) as well as by numerous other parenting magazines, websites, and organizations and law enforcement agencies.
Cons: Once a child plays for more than a few hours and realizes they are pretty limited on what they can do with a F2P account, they will quickly be asking for a premium account. Bubblegum Interactive Studios is considered a startup company, so there always poses a risk of the game shutting down if not enough interest is sparked and is maintained. However, they just recently received a $2.5 million grant to fund future development of Little Space Heroes so I don’t think they will be going anywhere soon.
Fourth is Jump Start Online by Knowledge Adventure for ages 3-12. Yes, I said age 3. It is a 3d based P2P game and a membership starts at $5.99(regularly $8.99 but on sale) per month that also gets you a free membership for up to 6 children and a free membership to MathBlaster.com; an outer space math based adventure game world. Most people are knowledgeable about Jump Start, which has been around for more than 20 years, as many of us grew up on the PC game as kids and for those who did play it, they can attest to its educational commitment.
In this game, you create a 3d avatar where you child explores a plethora of worlds that engage educational mechanics to support an enjoyable learning environment. As your child completes games, they earn coins and points that are used to personalize their world giving them the opportunity to define themselves. As a member, you also have access to printables, worksheets, activities, as well as in-game fun all wrapped around learning and constantly changing to include upcoming holidays and historical events. Although the majority of the areas in this game are designed with all ages in mind, there are specific areas which have been grouped by age range and by subject. The games are designed to encourage kids to practice math, reading, and critical thinking skills as well as many other subjects such as music, social studies, art, writing, and so much more.
This online game has been around for over 5 years and has received more than 300 awards.
Pros: Relatively inexpensive way to keep your child learning over the summer in a way they will enjoy. Long standing reputation approved by parents and educators alike. Constantly updated and newly added content keep the game from becoming boring. Includes access to many added features for free such as Apps, Facebook updates of your child’s playtime, printables and so forth.
Cons: Kids might start to feel they are in a constant learning environment and opt to play a game with little educational basis to it, however from my own experiences with my own 8 year old, this is rarely the case.
The Fifth and Final game is Star Wars Clone Wars Adventures by Sony is a 3d family friendly F2P MMO, that would best be experienced with a membership that would run you $5.99 per month. This game is based on the animated TV Series and allows the player the chance to battle alongside their favorite Star Wars characters as well as play mini-games, take part in daily activities, events, awards, and interact with other families who also love the Star Wars genre.
One of the membership perks is the ability to purchase pets which include a long list of droids, including C-3PO and R2D2 as well as buy sidekicks such as Jynx and creatures like Skreech and Babbo, some of my favorite creatures from the Original Star Wars movies. From battling waves of Battle Droids, playing mini-games, or decking out your house, this is definitely an entire game the family will enjoy.
Pros: Relatively cheap to play with a summer special currently underway featuring $9.99 for the entire summer. With most family style MMO games having more of a girly context to it, this game will surely engage both boys and girls equally as well as moms and dads and there is so much to do for every style of gamer.
Cons: Might be a bit to “boyish” for some girls who never really got into the Stars Wars genre. Might be a tad too much realistic “hack and slash” for conservative parents.
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