A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this massively multiplayer online game (MMOG) world is based in the UK and although not ESRB rated or COPPA compliant, it is compliant with the UK's own Child Exploitation and Online Protection laws. Similar to laws in the USA, no identifying information is collected from the child. The game is mostly free to play with some premium features that are available only to subscribers. Parents also need to know that the although the game is browser-based, a small download is required to play the game. The "How to Play" manual can be accessed from the game's website; otherwise kids have to click around in the game to find the video tutorials.
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What's it about?
Kids start playing in BOAKI by landing on a fantastical flying island that is their in-game home and it is as if they've been dropped into an alien world. They have to click around to interact with objects and learn about their home through these interactions where they will be able to watch short videos, and learn how to get to other areas of the world. Robots abound which make unintelligible noises but text pop-ups provide information and tips. As kids explore and adventure through the world, they are addressed as earthlings, reinforcing the fact that they are in a different world and their goal is to solve the mystery of what happened to the previous inhabitants.
Is it any good?
Targeted at kids ages 6 through 12, Boaki provides an amazing amount of content that is free to play, with a monthly subscription opening up premium features such as pets (piki), mounts (pitoo) they can ride and race, and member-only games, locations, clothing, and tournaments with leader boads. The games are varied from simple clicking on bubbles, to exploration,to picture-matching/memory-type games, to spaceship races. As this is a game based on explorative play, kids who are modelling learners may find it incredibly intimidating ,since there aren't any tutorials to show kids how to play most games, or what to do when they enter the game. Kids who are familiar with online worlds however, will immediately know how to access the world by clicking on the Map, clicking on objects that sparkle, and running into doorways with a swirling graphic.
Online interaction: Interaction for the most part is through drop down menus except during hours where there is a team of guides and moderators in game and open chat is allowed. Open chat even with filtering and moderators can be iffy.
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