What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) like this one, with their quick reward systems, can be very compelling. Players can be drawn into an online world and lose track of time while playing. Although rated by the ERSB for 10+, and originally designed for ages 6 and up, this game's End User License Agreement recommends 13+ with parental consent. This is mainly because, even though the cute factor is a draw for 6-year-olds, teens and up comprise most of the players and instances of bad behavior and language are always a risk of joining online communities. Although free to download and play, this game can get expensive: players can use real money to buy virtual items in the online mall or cash shop, and those items expire after 90 days -- at which point players are prompted to purchase them all over again.
What's it about?
MAPLESTORY is a 2-D, side-scrolling MMORPG that looks and feels like a \"platformer\" -- a type of video game where players have to get their characters onto platforms. Cute and colorful in an anime style, it's a game that's easy to get into and play. The entry is easy and the PC requirements are low. Like most MMORPGs, gameplay centers around exploring dungeons (maze-like environments) and killing monsters with swords or magic to earn gold -- called \"mesos.\"
Gameplay is simple as you move forward and backward with the arrow keys, jump with the Alt key, and perform combat with the Ctrl key. Aside from exploring dungeons and killing monsters, there are mini-games that are found in the game and on special quests. Most of the quests are of the \"Kill X creatures and bring me Y pelts\" variety. Mini-games can be played solo as well as multiplayer and include a tic-tac-toe variant, a matching cards memory game, rock-paper-scissors, and pachinko (a variant of pinball).
Is it any good?
Pets provide another layer of depth in this game, but must be bought from the cash or item shop with real money, and like any items purchased from the cash shop, they last only 90 days, whereupon the owner must buy a "water of life" and perform a quest to revive it. The cash shop also provides "fluff" avatar customization items and it's easy to get in a never-ending cycle of buying items with real cash. Platform gameplay can be very engaging and the large community a draw into this game.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about why games like these can be addictive. Parents can also discuss social etiquette online. What's OK and what's not? Have you ever noticed bad online behavior? What did you do about it? Also, how is teamwork an asset in this game?