It’s me, Ditto the monster. To anyone who might not be familiar with me or my bloggy-thingy, I guess I am somewhat unique in the gaming blog community, probably because I have orange hair – apparently that’s pretty unusual. It may also be because I am what some people would call a puppet, though I prefer to be known as a Fabricated American – ‘no strings attached’ as it were. I’m really not so different from anyone else (though I do tend to spend a lot more on shampoo) but I have a pretty normal life; I have a job, good friends, I like music, cool movies, fantasy and science fiction books, the usual suspects, but most of all I love video games!
I love all kinds of games; anything that transports you into another world, engrosses you in a narrative that your actions have an impact on, or even something that just engages your mind, like solving puzzles or fitting things together. I’ve never been as big on the shooty games, mostly because a puppet’s reaction times on the mouse are probably on par with that of a deeply medicated tree sloth, but give me deep adventure and a good story, be it fantasy, science fiction, distant past or far future, and I cant’ get out of my seat. Literally – someone put velcro on there for some reason and it sticks to my fur, takes forever to get unstuck.
I love lots of different kinds of games, and I really like interacting with other people! Thankfully, there are a lot of amazing and fun social and online games available for all ages, but with so many different options out there it’s important to know what’s around, what’s fun, and most importantly, what’s safe. That’s what I’m here to talk about, to help sift through the ocean of family friendly Internet games out there and talk about what’s new and exciting, as well as how to be smart and stay safe online.
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For my first article I’m just going to talk about what I mean by ‘family-friendly Internet gaming’ and what kinds of games I’m talking about, because it can mean a lot of different things to different people. Internet Gaming is easy, as ‘playing games on the Internet’ should be fairly self-explanatory; it can be playing popular MMOs like Wizard 101, it can be fun online gaming hubs like Clone Wars Adventures, and it can be social network games on Facebook like Backyard Monsters – really any kind of gaming experience that connects players online and allows them to play together and talk or share scores or awards falls into this category.
‘Family Friendly’ is a little more opinion-based, of course, but I try to find games that are not violent or that keep the violence very low-key and cartoon-style, games that are well moderated or use technology to keep chat channels safe for everyone and won’t expose younger kids to inappropriate language, and games that don’t try to take advantage of players by forcing them or tricking them into making purchases or signing up for shady deals to continue to play the game.
For games, there are probably as many ‘kinds’ of game out there as there are ways of serving cheese and meat in a flour tortilla at Taco Bell; that is, people think there are hundreds, but really there’re just a few with subtle differences between them.
Massively Multiplayer Online games (that’s the ‘MMO’ in ‘MMOCrunch’ if you were at all curious, though you’re probably not) have been around for a long time and usually allow the most complete social interaction, allowing players to create avatars and actually meet up together in the game world, adventuring together, helping one another on quests, or just hanging out talking.
Online gaming hubs like Club Penguin or Clone Wars Adventures are a newer creation and allow similar levels of social interaction to MMO games, usually with some style of avatar creation and in-game chat in open social areas, but they’re usually organized more as a collection of smaller mini-games instead of a persistent world to adventure in.
Popular social networking sites like Facebook or… or….? Um, that’s about it, huh? Yeah I guess that’s about it unless you’re in a garage band or you really like annoying flashing banners and animated GIFs, then maybe you still use MySpace… Where was I now? Sorry, Fabricated attention span… Oh yeah! Facebook has a huge number of interesting social games that continue to grow in popularity, boasting tens of millions of players daily. These games usually have minimal real-time player interaction, but instead tend to rely on game ‘neighbors’ who can assist with tasks and send messages to one another, as well as various types of in-game scoring and achievements that players can share with their friends, a different but equally valuable type of social interaction.
Finally, a big part of a game being easily accessible and family friendly is cost, because a lot of people, especially younger people, can’t afford ten or fifteen dollars a month to play a game with their friends. The games I’ll discuss here are generally going to be free-to-play and require little to no money to play and enjoy. You typically don’t get something for nothing, of course, but I’ll also talk about ways to make sure that if you want to spend money on any of these games you’ll be able to do it safely and get the most for your money.
So that’s it for this week folks. I’ve got lots more to talk about, but it’s time to go brush my fur. Until next week, thanks for reading, stay safe, play smart, and keep gaming!