What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a massively multiplayer online game where kids enter as a 10 year-old avatar. As they explore this online world, they earn "age points," which grants them birthdays, privileges within this world, and new places to explore. The game is free to play while your avatar is age 10, 11, and 12, but if you want to reach the age of 13-16, you have to buy a membership costing $4.95 (or $19.95 for 6 months). There is protected chat offered in the game. At first, your avatar can only use simple phrases from a drop-down menu. When in-game avatars reach age 12, they can ask that their real world parent grant permission to allow chat by typing. But even then, the chat is subjected to a strict filter that prohibits kids from using bad words or sharing personal information. As an additional precaution, the site uses live monitors as well and software that analyzes chat patterns looking for misbehavior.
What's it about?
SUPERSECRET is a massively multiplayer online game where kids get to play at growing up. They enter this realistic-looking world as a 10-year-old avatar, and play by going on quests, winning minigames, and finding hidden objects and collectibles. These actions earn them Age Points and Spenders (the currency of this virtual world). When they have earn enough Age Points, their avatar has a birthday, which means that their avatars grows older visually and are granted new privileges as well as access to new parts of this virtual world. After playing within this game for about 30 days, kids will grow from the entry age of 10 years to age 15. \
\ By aging, avatars earn the ability to own a pet at age 11, the right to live in and decorate a dorm room at age 12, and by age 15, they can have an interest-earning savings account. In addition to playing through the storyline about growing up, the game also allows kids to meet and chat with friends, explore secret places, and shop for cool things like clothing, furniture, and pets. \
Is it any good?
SuperSecret is a fascinating MMO for tweens and teens. Its theme about modeling real life is something tweens will find compelling. The quests require players to do good things and are easy to find by talking to nonplayer characters indicated by names typed in blue. The world is artfully drawn and each of the over 30 locations features a different musical theme. Kids choose from 20 ethnically diverse avatars that they can modify through hair styles and clothing choices. Humor is present throughout the game, and players can even send each other gag gifts. Plus, unlike other virtual worlds where the minigames can be hit or miss, SuperSecret licenses popular Flash games. As a consequence, these are games that kids want to play.
SuperSecret is a great way for kids to learn how to play in a virtual world. It is a good fit for kids who have outgrown the mega-popular virtual worlds of Club Penguin and Webkinz but aren't ready for the more sophisticated online games of World of Warcraft or even the social networking sites of Facebook and MySpace. We like that all chat is monitored and filtered, and that you can play the first few years of your avatar's life for free to see if you like the game. If you do, to reach the age of 13 and beyond, you will have to purchase a monthly membership of $4.95 (or $19.95 for 6 months).
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about how to chat in a virtual world. If your kids are new to doing this, parents might want to be sitting with their child during the first few times that they sign in. For general tips about how to navigate online worlds, see Club Penguin Tips. What is it about growing up that has such great appeal? Do you think getting older means life is more fun? How about responsibilities – are those fun or are they undesired work? How did you feel about sending prank gifts?