Is Sony's Free Realms, now in beta testing, a virtual world or a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG)? The latter is what Sony calls it, but I think it's both. Available online through a Web browser, the free version is more virtual world (with eight environments to choose from) which includes mini games in 14 categories (e.g., cooking, kart racing, mining, demolition derby, and music conducting). The $4.95/mo. version is the MMORPG involving quests and leveling as in the multi-million-player World of Warcraft. With both versions, you choose an avatar or "job." Member jobs sound a bit like some of WoW's – wizard, blacksmith, medic, archer, and warrior; free ones to be available at launch ninja, brawler, chef, miner, kart driver, card duelist, pet trainer, and postman (the game includes trading cards). Both members and free players can buy virtual goods for their avatars through "micro-transactions" with credit cards. Since the game's for all ages (likely starting at age 7 or 8), there are pretty robust-sounding parental controls (if kids are truthful about their ages). If you or your child would like to beta test Free Realms, email me at anne(at)netfamilynews.org, and I'll forward your request. Meanwhile, Sony has just released its "Let the Kids Game" guide for gamers' parents. The free booklet, downloadable here, offers advice for healthy gaming and pulls together third-party research about the positives of videogaming, saying it "can help kids socialize, improve cognitive abilities, and strengthen family ties."
NetFamilyNews – by Anne Collier
- New Facebook policy targets guns, other regulated items
- Google’s new learning tool that learns
- The flap over Talking Angela the chatbot app
- About the worldwide ‘selfie’ phenomenon
- How technology will improve the well-being of young adults
- Calling our children narcissists on ‘a sociopathic scale’: Really!?
- Nothing complicated about this: Read ‘It’s Complicated’!
- Teens’ own (wise) perspectives on life with social media
Analysis & News – by Larry Magid
- Smartphones that promise user privacy
- Author danah boyd on why teens and social media are ‘complicated’
- Security experts at RSA decry government hacking
- In defense of Internet safety education
- ‘Neknominate’ is a stupid and potentially deadly online dare game
- Confessions of a binge viewer
- People who suffer from so-called ‘game addiction’ have other problems
- U.S. Safer Internet Day focused on potential, positives and problems too