The gift-giving season is upon us! Hard to believe, but it was almost a decade ago that I got to buy and wrap Christmas presents for my baby girl for the very first time. Back then, the choices were simple. I could walk into a toy store, hit the baby aisle, and come home with piles of toys. Of course, I always had my eye out for the “educational” toys – you know, the kind that promised to stimulate brain development and enhance cognitive skills, etc. Whether the ball popper or lavender-scented octopus stimulated my daughter’s brain, I’m not sure – but she seemed to enjoy them and I felt like I had done my job as both a smart and fun mama.
Now my baby is 9 years old and present buying has become more challenging. She owns, like many children of her generation, a Nintendo DS, so of course games for the system is an obvious gift idea. Again though, there is that challenge every mother faces: to buy gifts that both entertain and educate. If my child is going to spend hours playing a video game, I want to be able to assuage my conscience by knowing she’s learning something while doing it.
UbiSoft’s new Poptropica game checks all the boxes on my “Smart-Mama” and “Fun-Mama” Christmas shopping wish list. Pop-what-ica? You might ask…well, I did too. If (like me) you didn’t know, Poptropica is a virtual world – an on-line role playing game world created by Jeff Kinney. (If that name sounds familiar, fellow parents of 9 year olds, it should – he’s the author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series.) A DS game based on a popular virtual world from the guy who writes the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books? You’re sold already, right? Do I really need to even finish this review?
Well, in case you need to hear more…I’ll let the nine year old do the talking from here:
If the squeals of excitement and hours spent holed up in her room are any indication, then Miss A really enjoyed this game. One thing she loves to do is design her own avatars, and Poptropica provides lots of opportunities to create and customize characters. I think players could spend hours and hours on this aspect of the game alone! (As you see in the beginning of the video, when she takes several moments to decide on a character to play, so many choices…)
And if that STILL isn’t enough to convince you, read more about the game on the official Poptropica Video Game Adventure site.
I hope, as the pre-holiday shopping days dwindle, I’ve helped make things easier by giving you a great gift idea. Poptropica is available at Toys R Us and Amazon. For less than $30, you’ll keep your child entertained, provide a smidgen of conscience-appeasing education, and buy yourself hours of quiet time. What a bargain!