If you’re familiar with online, multi-user games such as World of Warcraft, Wizard 101 is a lot easier to explain. It’s like that, only aimed at a younger crowd… and everyone is a wizard. The main page of Wizard 101 is here, and you can watch several videos at their site here.
The game is specifically designed for the gap between games for the very young and those that are too mature in theme. It’s ESRB rated at 10+. Unlike the contemporaries in the field, like the aforementioned World of Warcraft, you don’t have to worry about the DPS rankings and other factors, making it much easier to pick up.
Upon entering the world, players create their characters, and are given a school of magic (fire, earth, etc.) based on answers to a series of questions. Players then begin their quest as new students at Ravenwood school of magic. Along the way you learn new spells, solve puzzles, collect artifacts, adopt pets, and much more.
Extensive magical 3D world where players team up with friends and carry out quests to save Wizard City from the forces of Evil.
Collectible card-style duels that come to cinematic life as players cast spells alongside fellow and rival students.
More than 101 collectible spells that summon zany creatures such as Humongofrog, Evil Snowman and Stormzilla.
Many witty scenarios and characters based on history, mythology and pop culture.
The ability to adopt magical pets, like a tiny dragon or a flying pig.
Puzzles and mini-games that challenge players.
New outfits and accessories to earn or purchase for endlessly customizable Wizard avatars.
The gameplay is really fun, and the quests carrying advenurers along through interesting storylines (and I have eight year-old confirmation on that). The people behind the game have put together a great combination of options to work with the families entering their world. Part of the fun of such a game is the interaction with other players, but at this age-range, that’s potentially a lot of the problem as well. Parents have easy access to controlling the experience through filters that can limit what will be seen in the game. From free chat to conversations via only selected responses, parents are in charge of what their kids will see in the game.
Another great way Wizard 101 has families in mind is with the payment options. The game has a perpetual free trial to start things off. You can play forever without ever handing over even payment information, and you can get more out of that than you expect. Instead of payment for time, the game works on a payment for “area” theory. The full game payment option is $9.95 per month, which opens everything in the game. There are options there too though, with discounts if you buy a full year, or if you are buying a second account so two people in the family can play together (which is really cool, by the way).
But, Wizard 101 takes things up a notch with another option that I find brilliant. You also have the option to pay-as-you-go and unlock areas one at a time. For as little as $1 (and up to not that much more) you can unlock an area, and that area will stay open to you forever. Take your time exploring that area as much as you want without having to pay more until you’re ready. This theory opens a lot of possibility for a family-friendly awareness of a game. Do a certain number of chores, earn a new area.
It’s a very fun treatment, and the battle system is filled with cinematic treats. It’s also tuned in wonderfully to a mix that is fun for the age-range, but avoids actual violence to the greatest degree possible. The option to play together is great, and the in-game system for joining other in fights is built to work well while maintaining an easy of play that will keep younger players from getting frustrated.
I recommend the game, and it costs you nothing to check it out… ever.
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- KingsIsle’s Wizard 101 hits 2 million users and sells gift cards in 7-Eleven stores (venturebeat.com)