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 section of the Nick Website features fun games that are appropriate for kids. Although some are clearly intended for younger kids, most have an age recommendation of 7+. However, the games aren't free -- they range from $6.99 (with the purchase of an "arcade pass" subscription, starting at an additional $6.99 per month) to $19.99 each. Users can try out each game for 30 minutes before deciding whether or not to buy and all of games must be downloaded. Also, there are lots of links to outside sites, and some of the ads seem like they're part of Nick's content. Note before buying: None of these games can be played on a Mac, and some are incompatible with Windows Vista.
What's it about?
Kids looking to get their game on will find plenty of friends to play with on NICKARCADE.COM -- including SpongeBob, Dora, Jimmy Neutron, and other animated favorites. Part of the Nick.com site, the arcade includes dozens of games featuring Nick and Nick Jr. characters, as well as some non-Nick offerings. Users can download 30-minute tryout versions of each game. Once that time is up, games can be purchased individually (usually at $19.99 a pop), or players can buy an arcade pass subscription with a minimum commitment of three, six, or 12 games.
Is it any good?
Nick Arcade's games are more sophisticated than many of the Web's free offerings for kids. There are richly detailed puzzle and adventure games, like SpongeBob's spin on the classic board game Life and the fantastical Avatar: Path of Zuko. Younger kids will love Dora's delightful version of Candyland, complete with mini-games like decorating cookies and catching candy canes. Feeding Frenzy 2 is a simple arcade game -- as Boris the Butterfly Fish, your mission is to snack on smaller swimmers -- but its beautiful aquatic animation makes it a standout.
The downside? The cost, of course. These games aren't cheap, and getting the arcade pass means making a financial commitment. Plus, downloading the games just to try them out can be annoying, especially for users with slower computers.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how ads can sometimes look like content. Did you click on any ads thinking they were games on the site? Why do you think Nick includes a "bumper" message before it sends you to an outside site? Families can also discuss how kids should always ask a parent's permission before downloading files. Do you think the games on this site are more fun than the free games you've played? Can you tell if a game is worth paying for after playing it for 30 minutes?