A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this complex virtual world follows the same model as other toy-based virtual worlds that require the purchase of a toy for entry. Kookeys plush toys cost between $12.99 and $14.99, and their secret codes provide access to the online environment.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
Following on the model of Webkinz and MyePets, KOOKEYS is a toy-based virtual world that allows kids to play with their real-life toys in an online environment. Kookeys plush toys come with a code that provides access to the virtual world and lets kids name their avatar, give it clothes, buy it a house, and personalize its world, just like in Club Penguin. Kookeys adds an educational element and requires kids to work for their rewards -- like passing tests at KooKollege and playing educational games. The questions at KooCollege are similar to what you might find on standardized testing. A first-grade history question is "What do people celebrate on flag day?" The game is multi-player and there's a filtered chat that lets kids communicate using pre-scripted language.
Is it any good?
The Kookeys toys are pretty cute and seem well-made, (but perhaps a little bit pricey -- try and find mark-downs). The graphics in the virtual world will probably appeal more to kids at the younger end of the target age range (kindergarten), though the classes at KooCollege go up to sixth grade. The Kookeys' concept of education and hard work may make it more appealing for parents. The gameplay, graphics, and safety level are all on a par with others in the category.
Where Kookeys could use improvement is in its user instructions -- they're either nonexistent when you need them, inconsistent with the overall site presentation, or they're weirdly written, such as this one in the bank: "Are you thinking of buying a luxurious house in Kooverly Hills or buying for yourself the finest stuff in the shops?" It may not bother kids, but it makes the site just a little less slick than sites that do this well, like Zibbies.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about whether kids want to play with their Kookeys off-line. Does the imaginary world of Kooland add to your pretend play or do you only play with the toy in its online world? By seeing other Kookey characters in the virtual world, does it make you want to collect more Kookeys?
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