Emerging Technologies and Edtech June 19, 2014

Country of Origin: US
Languages: English
Developer: Jeff Kinney Group
Publisher: Family Education Network
Year Published: 2007-present
Website: http://www.poptropica.com
Platforms: Web
Genre: Massively Multiplayer Platformer, Puzzle
Barriers to Entry: A computer with a broadband internet connection and Adobe Flash capability (mid-range laptop or personal computer).
Age range:  6-15
Subject: Digital Literacy

Poptropica is a lightly educational web-based online game for kids aged 6 through 15. Originally conceived by Jeff Kinney, bestselling author of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid children’s book series, it was published by Pearson’s Family Education Network. Players navigate by mouse-click, exploring a two-dimensional world where they can whimsically jump between platforms and navigate a scrolling left-and-right expanding environment. There are 31 “islands” for players to explore, each with a different theme (“Wild West Island,” “Cryptids Island,” “Great Pumpkin Island,” etc). By moving objects from one location to another, players solve puzzles on the islands they are on to unlock new locations.

In addition to puzzle-based problem solving, players practice reading and communicate with each other by selecting pre-baked chat messages from a list. This safe social engagement is one of Poptropica’s hallmarks and represents significant innovation in the kids’ virtual world space. Other parts of the game include trivia, mad-libs, and clue-based puzzle solving.