A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that JumpStart 3D Virtual World is an online, subscription-based learning game that takes place in a safe, controlled environment. It provides content for children aged 3 to 10 years, though younger kids in this targeted audience will require help navigating the world to find activities suitable for their age. Unique interactive educational challenges help kids learn their alphabet, solve mathematical equations, gain knowledge of grammatical concepts, and learn about the world. Note that there is a small amount of violence (players jump on creatures called punk-punks and flatten them). You should also be aware that Knowledge Adventure inserts plugs for its other Jumpstart products within the game.
What's it about?
By creating an online, interactive, educational experience, JumpStart 3D Virtual World tries to turn learning into a game. Players explore an expansive environment looking for games and activities, many of which have a strong pedagogical bent. There is far too much content to list here, but younger players will engage in such activities as leafing through voiced storybooks, playing with instruments and toys, and matching shapes and colors in fun, themed mini-games. Older kids can use jetpacks to fly through answers to mathematical equations, color pictures and post their work on billboards around the world, and float through underwater worlds trying to find and identify sentences with proper grammatical structure. Even the games designed primarily for fun -- such as the Robo-a-go-go rhythm game and a dragon pet simulator -- teach kids something, such as the basics of music and animal care, respectively.
Is it any good?
As so-called edutainment goes, JumpStart 3D Virtual World is top-notch. Few games can make learning to identify prepositions and memorizing multiplication tables authentically fun, but that’s exactly what JumpStart does. It even turns learning into a friendly competition, allowing players to compare their performance (anonymously) with others and providing incentive to play more learning games to earn additional stars and coins that unlock other elements of the game.
Unfortunately, we did run into some technical problems. The game occasionally lagged and even crashed a few times while we were testing it. Plus, the controls, while manageable, aren’t perfect. Moving one’s character around using the arrow keys often feels more like driving a car than controlling what should be a nimble little game avatar. Still, these are issues that we hope will be ironed out as the game matures online. If you’re looking for a way to make learning entertaining for your three-to-ten-year-olds, JumpStart 3D Virtual World is a good place to start.
Online interaction: Players will occasionally run into other player-controlled characters in the hub world and in some mini-games, but they cannot communicate or interact with one another, which means there is no chance for children to experience inappropriate content generated by others.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about learning via video games. Do you think it is as effective as more traditional methods? Do you feel as though you are learning at the same pace as you would otherwise? Do you believe you retain what you’ve learned?
Families can also discuss the concept of subscription-based gaming. It’s less expensive to start, but gets pricier the longer you subscribe. Publishers try to make it worth your while by regularly introducing new content, but do you think players get enough from it to warrant lengthy subscriptions?
- Platforms: Windows
- Subjects: Science: animals, measurement
Math: arithmetic, equations, shapes
Arts: drawing, music, rhythm
Language & Reading: letter or word recognition, reading, spelling
Social Studies: geography, history
- Skills: Self-Direction: academic development, initiative, work to achieve goals
Emotional Development: moving beyond obstacles, persevering
Thinking & Reasoning: logic, problem solving, solving puzzles
- Price: $7.99/mo or $74.99/year
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Knowledge Adventure
- Release date: March 10, 2009
- Genre: Educational
- ESRB rating: E for No Descriptors
For kids who love learning games
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.