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MMO Family

The best of Massively's MMO Family column

MMO Industry, Massively Meta, Casual, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

Pirate101
While young children aren't Massively's target demographic, we frequently encounter MMOs that appeal to kids as well as MMO gamers with kids. That's why we ran the MMO Family column for over four years. Helmed first by Lisa Poisso and then Karen Bryan, the column reviewed kid-friendly games and offered advice and insight on how to survive as the parent of budding MMO gamers.

Enjoy our picks for the very best of their collected work in MMO Family.

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MMO Family: First impressions of Ganz's Amazing World

Opinion, Free-to-Play, First Impressions, Kids, MMO Family, Family

WebKinz is one of the oldest kid-friendly MMOs around, and it still boasts a healthy community, long after other running titles have closed their doors. But Ganz Studio recently launched a new MMO that takes the WebKinz spirit and plants it in a colorful 3-D world. Amazing World combines cuteness with adventure and adds a more modern look and feel.

But is Amazing World really that amazing? In this week's MMO Family, we'll take a look and give some first impressions!

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MMO Family: Winter fun and cool cash in Roblox

Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous, Sandbox

EverQuest Next Landmark might be generating a lot of buzz over the impressive creations that players are putting together, but Roblox has been doing it for years, and many of those creating are still in grade school. Indeed, Roblox has continued to improve the structure of the game and give players great tools to become amateur developers. Recently, the developers showed off those tools with a series of winter games. But the real excitement is found in their Developer Exchange system, which now allows arm-chair developers to earn up to $2,000 a month from the games they create.

Let's take a look at what Roblox has been up to this winter in this week's MMO Family.

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MMO Family: How to encourage reading through video games

Opinion, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

In a recent Wall Street Journal article, author Christopher John Farley posited that literature can learn from the rise and success of video games. Polls reveal that families are increasingly concerned that their children aren't reading as much as they should. And they're right to be concerned because studies have shown that good reading habits are forged during childhood, and after age 12, it's extremely hard to get kids to read if they aren't big readers already.

Video games and literature seem an unlikely duo, but there some important ways that gaming can encourage reading. Let's explore this topic in this week's MMO Family.

(Photo credit: Tim Pierce)

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MMO Family: Forbes' three essential parenting tips on video games

Culture, Opinion, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

As video games continue to grow in popularity each year, there is a correlating increase in the number of studies and advice columns offering insight into how parents should tackle the many parenting issues that go with it. Sadly, far too many of the "experts" who offer advice have little or no real experience playing video games, and their advice is shaped by an overall negative view of video games.

But as Forbes blogger Jordan Shapiro points out in his article 3 Things Parents Should Know About Video Games and Kids, video games and the internet are here to stay. And it's unrealistic to look at the issues of raising a child in the age of technology strictly in black and white terms. Shapiro offers up the three pieces of advice that are great starting points for parents, and we'll take a look at them in this week's MMO Family.

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MMO Family: Setting Sail in Pirate101

Opinion, Free-to-Play, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Pirate101

Pirate101
Yo ho ho and a bottle of yum! It's been a while, but I've recently returned to the Spiral to explore the world of Pirate101, along with my two younger game testers. We enjoyed our time in-game the first time around, and were curious to revisit the game to see what's changed. Would we find a hidden treasure or end up sunk? In this week's MMO Family, we're donning our Tricorn hats and setting sail in Pirate101!

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MMO Family: Yes, video games are good for you

Culture, MMO Industry, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

The good news continues to arrive for gamers. In the last MMO Family column, we looked at a decade-long British study that showed no connection between playing video games and mental health issues in children. And this week, the American Psychological Association published a report that goes even further, saying that playing video games has tangible benefits.

Can video games really be good for you? Let's take a look in this week's MMO Family.

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MMO Family: Study shows no link between video games and mental health issues in children

Culture, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

We've long heard concerns that video games might be responsible for bringing about antisocial behavior and even violence. But there's some good news for gaming fans. Recently, researchers from the University of Glasgow released findings that video games had no effect on children's psychological development.

The study included thousands of families over the past decade, tracking children's TV and video game playtime from nine months to seven years of age. Let's take a peek at some of the more notable results and what they mean for the young generation of gamers.

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MMO Family: How to raise an astute gamer (even if you aren't one)

Opinion, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

MMO Family  How to raise a healthy gamer even if you aren't one
As we trudge towards winter here in the States, the frigid temperatures make outside playtime a lot more difficult. And while we're hunkered down inside during those bitterly cold days, more and more kids choose to log in and do a little gaming to get through the winter doldrums.

For many parents, though, negotiations with their children over video game time is about as pleasant as a snowball to the face. Many of us have come across parents who don't play video games at all and are struggling to make sense of the whole thing. What advice is crucial to the uninitiated parents of gaming children? How can they instill healthy gaming habits and get a handle on video gaming in general? Let's look at a few tips that might help in this week's MMO Family.

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MMO Family: Good video games or bad mind games?

MMO Industry, Opinion, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

MMO Family  Good video games, or bad mind games
The video game industry suffers from an uncomfortable balance. On one hand, it's a business, and the best way to make money is to keep players playing. On the other are the methods that go into getting people playing -- and paying. From the bottom-feeding tactics of Zynga's FarmVille to the more subtle methods we see in MMOs through cash shops and microtransactions, studios are employing a variety of mind games to nudge players to open their wallets.

It's one thing to market to adults, who (in theory) are mature enough to make wise decisions on how much to spend on gaming. But kids are a growing percentage of the playerbase and might not be as savvy when it comes to smart spending. NPR took a look at the marketing side of gaming, in an article called How video games are getting inside your head -- and wallet. It raises some meaningful questions about video games and children, which we'll look at in this week's MMO Family.

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MMO Family: A cornucopia of kid-friendly Halloween events

Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Super-hero, Events (In-Game), Free-to-Play, Free Realms, Kids, Wizard101, MMO Family, Family, Clone Wars Adventures, Miscellaneous, Pirate101

MMO Family  A cornucopia of kidfriendly Halloween events
Part of the fun of MMOs is the chance to dress up our characters, so it's no surprise that the month of October is a big one for kid-friendly MMOs. There's a plethora of pumpkins, countless costumes, and copious amounts of creepy housing decor. And the vast tonnage of treats available makes those real-life treat bags look minuscule in comparison.

In this week's MMO Family, we've got a roundup of several Halloween celebrations in kid-friendly games. And while most are about the "stuff," there are also several creative contests and events that are worth a look. Get your scare on below!

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MMO Family: Highlights from ROBLOX's Virtual BLOXcon

Free-to-Play, Kids, MMO Family, Family

MMO Family Highlights from ROBLOX's Virtual BLOXcon
MMO conventions are always a good opportunity for fans to meet each other and for developers to solicit input. ROBLOX held a series of BLOXcons over the summer in Chicago, London, and New York City, where thousands of fans were able to get together and celebrate the game. But of course, not everyone can make the trip to a convention, so the company decided to hold a virtual BLOXcon as well. The firm ran a five-hour livestream that included a state of the game speech, new feature announcements, Hall of Fame awards, and gameplay that showcased some of the best creations by ROBLOX fans.

If you missed it, fear not, because this week's MMO Family has a rundown of all the highlights!

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MMO Family: Are kid-friendly MMOs doomed to extinction?

MMO Industry, Opinion, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

MMO Family  Are kidfriendly MMOs doomed to extinction
Recently, the family-friendly segment of the MMO industry suffered a bit of a blow with the news of Disney's decision to shut down Pirates of the Caribbean Online and Toontown. These were both titles that had been around for years, and both had loyal fanbases. Toontown in particular has been around for about a decade and won several awards through the years. So when the sunsettings were announced, it raised questions about whether kid-friendly games are as successful as publishers might have hoped.

In fact, these aren't the only relatively well-known kids' titles to be shut down over the past year. And while it might be premature to signal the death knell for kid MMOs, it's a good time to do an assessment on what's working and what might be hampering success. In this week's MMO Family, it's time to do a little state of the (kid-friendly) industry.

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MMO Family: First impressions of Dreamworks' School of Dragons

Opinion, Free-to-Play, First Impressions, Kids, MMO Family, Family

MMO Family  First impressions of Dreamworks School of Dragons
Who knew that the rough, barren cliffs of Berk could be so popular? The animated film How to Train Your Dragon has blossomed into a hit TV show, two upcoming sequels, and even its very own MMO. The studio behind Jumpstart has teamed up with Dreamworks to create School of Dragons, a kid-friendly MMO that blends in viking adventure, lessons in science, and plenty of fire-breathing dragons.

In this week's MMO Family, I donned my pointy viking helmet and heavy fur cloak to check things out. Read on for my first impressions of the game!

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MMO Family: MMO trends from kid-friendly game conventions

Opinion, Free Realms, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Clone Wars Adventures

MMO Family MMO trends from kidfriendly game conventions
Summer is convention season, and adults weren't the only ones who got to celebrate their favorite games and talk to the developers who make them. Young fans of Free Realms and Clone Wars Adventures attended panels at SOE Live, while Roblox fans recently wrapped up the third leg of the BLOXcon tour, which was held in Chicago, London, and New York City. And Minecraft fans scooped up tickets to MineCon as soon as they were made available.

Kid-gamers are a force to be reckoned with, and they can be just as passionate about their games as adults. What can we learn from them about trends in MMOs? Let's take a look in this week's MMO Family.

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