A Parent's Guide to Poptropica
Since its launch in September 2007, Poptropica
has been the fastest-growing online virtual world for kids. Each month, more than 6 million children around the globe explore the vibrant and constantly expanding game world. Kids are also flocking to the Poptropica app
. Chances are that your child or one of her friends is an avid player.
But what's the game all about, exactly? As a parent, what do you need to know about this increasingly popular phenomenon? Let's start with the basics.
is also part of Family Education Network.)
The basics of Poptropica
First, kids create a character. After selecting whether to play as a boy or a girl Poptropican, they are assigned a name. Each character's appearance is randomly generated to start with; kids have the option to change almost all of their avatar's physical attributes, such as facial features and clothing. This character can be saved, via a password system, for use in future game-play sessions.
Then, kids enter Poptropica
, a virtual world dotted with individual islands. Each island has its own theme, and its own adventure for players to complete. For example, "Time-Tangled Island" is a time-traveling adventure in which players must return objects and characters to their historically accurate periods, while "Spy Island" is a comical thriller with lots of futuristic gadgets. Each has a distinct storyline that is not related to those of the other islands.
Besides the single-player adventure, each island features common rooms, in which Poptropica
players can play standalone games against other people. These are primarily short, simple, reflex-based games, such as a skydiving competition in which the first person to touch the ground safely wins, or a basketball shooting competition in which the hoop is rising and falling. Players are given a star ranking based on their win-loss record.
Characters are controlled entirely by the mouse. Players move an arrow-shaped cursor in the direction they want their character to go, and hold down the left mouse button to make them move. To jump, players move the cursor up; to duck, they move it down. There are also special actions that can be accomplished with inventory items -- for example, a jetpack lets users fly, while a glowstick illuminates dark areas. The inventory menu is graphical, and also accessed by the mouse.
Those are the basics. To get a better idea of what kids do in Poptropica
, watch this Youtube video
, visit these video tutorials
, and keep up with Poptropica news on Twitter
. Also, learn more about the Poptropica app
by watching this video