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MMO Family

MMO Family: Free Realms and Clone Wars Adventures at SOE Live

Free-to-Play, Free Realms, Events (Massively's Coverage), Kids, MMO Family, Family

MMO Family  Catching up with Free Realms and Clone Wars Adventures at SOE Live
While we've heard lots of news this past weekend about SOE's lineup of titles for the adult audience, there's an ever growing presence of children at the convention thanks to the popularity of Free Realms and Clone Wars Adventures. They might not have as many years of experience gaming as the "grown-up" crowd, but they still had lots of questions and insight to share with the developers of both games. To meet that demand, there were two panels for SOE's kid-friendly MMOs; one focused on the art of the games, while the other talked about some of the ways that the team designs their games around a younger audience. And there was some exciting news about what's planned for the future as well. Read on for the highlights!

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MMO Family: The many ways video games teach children

Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

MMO Family  The many ways video games teach children
Video games get a bad rap these days, but we've looked at several ways that they do redeem themselves. One area in particular is games-based learning, and there are some great games that are helping bring about a revolution in how we look at education.

But there are some more subtle ways that video games are teaching our children, too, and Forbes Contributing Editor Jordan Shapiro has put together a list of five types of learning through video games, regardless of whether a child is playing a serious game or is just putzing around. Let's look at the "other" side of learning through gaming, and see how it's perfectly tailored towards kid-friendly MMO experiences.

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MMO Family: Can gaming boost kids' physical activity?

Opinion, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

MMO Family  Can gaming boost kids' physical activity
One of the main concerns that parents have about their children's video game playtime is that it can correlate with inactivity, obesity, and a lack of interest in getting off the couch and doing things. And with reports coming out that sitting is the new smoking, they have good reason to be worried. As video games get more and more mainstream and the couch gets used more and more, young children could start to look like those passengers on the AXIOM in Wall-E.

But a recent study by Australian researchers featured in the British Medical Journal may shed a ray of optimism that video games can, in fact, offer opportunities for physical activity after all. Is there hope that younger gamers can avoid a sedentary existence as they grow up? Let's take a look in this week's MMO Family.

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MMO Family: Setting screen time limits this summer

Opinion, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

MMO Family  Setting screen time limits this summer
As June comes to a close, throngs of school children are free from "pencils, books, and teacher's dirty looks." But the end of school can bring a new problem, as parents and kids battle it out to to determine acceptable limits on game time.

How can parents set limits on screen time and still preserve some sense of sanity this summer? Let's look at a few pieces of valuable advice in this week's MMO Family.

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MMO Family: Study challenges common views on digital media, video games, and family

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

MMO Family  Northwestern study challenges common views on digital media, video games, and the family
When it comes to video games and parenting, there are two scenarios that often emerge. The first is that parents, children, and video games are a contentious mix. Parents and children often clash over things like playtime, game content, and the rising cost of devices needed to play. What results is a scenario where the children are constantly pushing for more and the parents are struggling to keep it under control.

The other is that parents have seemingly given up the battle and instead use video game systems and mobile devices as a digital baby-sitter, allowing their children to spend hours each day in front of the screen. So what's the truth? According to a study by Northwestern University, there are some surprising revelations about the real role of digital media in our families' lives.

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MMO Family: A look at Phineas and Ferb's Agent Alert

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

MMO Family  A look at Phineas and Ferb's Agent Alert
It's hard to walk by a school or a playground without seeing the image of an aqua-colored platypus emblazoned on a kid's shirt, hat, backpack, or lunch box. Phineas and Ferb, the long-running animated Disney series, has been a big hit with children, so it's little surprise that the tie-in game Agent Alert was launched a few months ago.

I'm not exactly familiar with the show, but when I got an email alert about a new MMO based on the series, I had to check it out. Was I about to head into a world of thousands of player-made platypus characters? I feared the worst but was pleasantly surprised.

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MMO Family: First Impressions of World of Trinketz

Business Models, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Free-to-Play, Browser, Hands-On, First Impressions, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

MMO Family  First Impressions of World of Trinketz
I have to begin this week's column with a disclaimer: I am not a fan of Facebook, and I'm even less a fan of Facebook games. The only one I found enjoyable was Ian Bogost's Cow Clicker because it was a giant middle finger to the bottom-feeding practices so commonly found in Facebook Villes.

But when I got a Google alert in my inbox about the world's first family-friendly 3-D MMO for Facebook, I had to head back to the blue-and-white wasteland of Facebook and see it firsthand. Could it be that the era of isometric views and mindless clicking is finally over? Have we finally moved on from agriculturally themed games? I decided to check out World of Trinketz to seek some answers.

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MMO Family: Are video games stressing kids out?

Culture, News Items, Opinion, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

MMO Family  Are video games stressing kids out
Video games get blamed for all sorts of societal problems, particularly for young children. Violence, obesity, and laziness are just the tip of the iceberg. And a recent article from Amanda Enayati adds one more potential problem: stress.

Growing up is complicated enough, but are video games making it even harder to be a happy, relaxed kid? Enayati, CNN Health's stress columnist and the technology and stress correspondent for PBS MediaShift, says it's complicated but points to a few studies that argue the pros and cons. Let's take a look at the debate over whether video games might be too stressful for children.

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MMO Family: Is it time to regulate MMO cash shops?

Business Models, Culture, MMO Industry, Opinion, Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

MMO Family
"I want it now!"

We're all familiar with that screechy demand by Veruca Salt in Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. And for those of us raising children, it's an all-too-common request. When kids want something, they'll pull out all the stops, and for many kids, that brand-new video game warrants an Oscar-winning tantrum.

MMOs, on the other hand, are a different breed because the bulk of kid-friendly MMOs are now free-to-play and make use of cash shops and a variety of subscription plans in order to generate revenue. In essence, MMOs have to work for their money now rather than rely on the traditional monthly subscription, but that has led to questions about how far studios should go in getting players to part with their money. In some instances, it's led to children (and some adults) spending large amounts of money without fully understanding what they've done. Should there be regulations on marketing practices of game companies?

A recent announcement by the U.K.'s Office of Fair Trading regarding web and app-based games might hint at that answer.

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MMO Family: The consequences of kids at conventions

Events (Real-World), MMO Industry, Opinion, Massively Meta, Events (Massively's Coverage), Kids, MMO Family, Family, Miscellaneous

MMO Family The consequences of kids at conventions
As I wound down my time at PAX East recently, I couldn't help but notice how different this convention was compared to when I went a couple of years ago. Yes, the exhibition floor was bigger, and there were many more in attendance, but the overall feel was different as well, and part of that was the increased presence of children.

We normally don't think of a video game convention as a family activity, and yet the fact that so many adults brought their children is telling. And whether you agree with it or not, there's something to be learned from the presence of kids at game conventions.

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MMO Family: How soon is too soon?

World of Warcraft, Opinion, Kids, MMO Family, Family

MMO Family  How soon is too soon
You might recognize the pictures above and in the body of the article. The first is from a video of a baby using an iPad while still in a walker. The other is from a viral video that came out a while back showing a baby trying to interact with a magazine as if it were an iPad. A quick search reveals the fact that this is growing more and more common. It's an interesting vignette of how much the digital culture has woven its way into our lives, but it also makes you pause and consider whether it's OK for an infant to already be "plugged in."

There are many questions about how early we should introduce children to the variety of devices out there and how soon we should let them start playing video games. And when it comes to MMOs, the issues become even more complicated. How soon is too soon? Let's explore the topic in this week's MMO Family.

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MMO Family: What exactly is a kid-friendly MMO?

A Tale in the Desert, Flyff, Opinion, Kids, Wizard101, Star Wars: The Old Republic, MMO Family, Family, Clone Wars Adventures, Miscellaneous

MMO Family  What exactly is a kidfriendly MMO
Recently, Massively's Jef Reahard seemed to revisit his inner-child with his Why I Play article on Clone Wars Adventures and a Daily Grind of a similar topic. He summed up perfectly why CWA, a kid-friendly MMO, is a lot of fun for grown-ups too. There are actually many MMOs that are marketed toward a younger audience but are fun and challenging enough to entertain adults. Meanwhile, there are plenty of kids who have no problem holding their own in "grown-up" MMOs.

So what exactly makes an MMO kid-friendly? It might not be as easy to define as we think.

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MMO Family: Lessons learned from parenting and gaming

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

MMO Family  Lessons learned from parenting and gaming
If you look at the past two decades, it's really amazing how fast technology has improved. Not that long ago, dialup was common, 3.5" disks were all the rage (so much better than those archaic 8" floppies!), and people were excited to be able to take digital photos (that also used those flashy 3.5 disks with a camera that was as large as a truck). Kids are growing up in a completely different world than their parents did, and that means there's a tabula rasa feel to the rules on parenting and video games.

Parenting sites are great at general parenting advice, and gaming sites are great at gaming write-ups, but there aren't too many sites that juggle both. As a result, parents are left with advice that usually falls into one camp or another, and absolutes really don't work well in this challenging area. So this week in MMO Family, I'd like to toss out a few lessons about raising kids in a digital age.

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MMO Family: Failure isn't just an option; it's a requirement

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

MMO Family  Failure isn't just an option, it's a requirement
The other day, I stumbled on an interview of author Paul Tough, who wrote the book called How Children Succeed. He stressed the importance of building grit, curiosity, and character in our children as they grown and learn. In addition, he emphasized the need to let our kids fail as they grow. In an age of helicopter parents and trophies for all, his message is simple but uncommon.

It's not unusual to hear people debate whether children are getting soft because of the need to protect them from failure. Could video games actually be the answer? This week, let's look at the topic of failure to see whether it might be more than an option -- it might be a requirement.

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MMO Family: Why Catfish is a term your kids should know

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

MMO Family  Why Catfish is a term your kids should know
By now, everyone's probably heard the strange story of Manti Te'o, the football player who had an online relationship with someone who wasn't really that person. The question that people keep asking is whether or not he was in on the hoax, but I think that's irrelevant. The real question is why people are surprised to begin with.

Ironically, gamers probably have a leg up on the Catfish scenario, since there are plenty of examples of players misrepresenting themselves through their in-game avatars. And there's often a grey area when it comes to roleplaying and honesty. In this week's MMO Family, let's look at the lessons of gaming, identity, and social media and what children should learn about all three. (And I promise I won't mention Manti again in this column.)

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