National Geographic Animal Jam

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Animal Jam
Developer(s) Smart Bomb Interactive
Publisher(s) National Geographic Society
Smart Bomb Interactive
Engine Unity, Flash
Release date(s) September 10, 2010

National Geographic Animal Jam is a massively multiplayer online game (MMO) virtual world launched in 2010 by Smart Bomb Interactive, in partnership with the National Geographic Society. The game, which has experienced 500% year-over-year growth, already has millions of registered players, and is one of the fastest-growing online kids properties worldwide.[1] Animal Jam is free from outside advertising and adheres to a strict privacy policy.

Animal Jam takes place in the world of Jamaa, where players can travel through various ecological environments such as prairie, rainforest and desert. Each environment features different interactive facts, games, and virtual shops. Players are represented in the game with customizable animal avatars. Players can accessorize their avatars, decorate their dens (virtual houses)and adopt virtual pets. Players interact with one another through chatting, trading/gifting, or by participating in multiplayer games and parties. Players are rewarded with achievements for collecting facts in the game, making friends, and decorating their dens. Players also earn the in-game currency, Gems, by completing games. Gems enable players to make in-game purchases of additional avatars, accessories, dens, and den items.

Development

The game was developed in 2009 by Smart Bomb Interactive. A beta was launched July 27, 2010 where they wanted kids feedback on how to improve Animal Jam.. In May 2011, Animal Jam announced it had surpassed 1 million registered players.[2] By August 2012, the game surpassed 6 million players worldwide.[3]

Environment

Animal Jam is divided into multiple lands and parties. You start in the world of Jamaa Township and travel by pressing on a place from the map. Each player is provided with a den for their avatar, that can be decorated with den items (purchased with gems in the virtual shops and beta adventures). Members are able to upgrade their dens and purchase additional member-only den items, purchased with Gems,earned by playing games, or earning beta den items. Jammers can also travel underwater with underwater including seals and penguins which can also travel on land.

Membership

Animal Jam has several membership offerings (1 month, 3 month, 6 month, or 12 month), as well as various gift card options available at retailers throughout the United States. Each retailer has a special code with an exclusive type of playable animal or a bonus diamond pack with gems. Membership grants players access to member-only animals to play as, virtual pets to care for, additional customization options, dens to live in and customize, and more.

Communication and safety

There are several forms of communication in the game that are all monitored by a safety chat filter, each with a variety of parent controlled safety chat options for their child's accounts. Safe Chat is allowed to be activated for members. These options can be set using the Parent Dashboard associated with the child's account. New accounts start out with Restricted Chat, which allows you to type from a preselected dictionary of words. There is a Bubble Chat option that does not allow you to type although the user can select from a limited list of sayings. The third type of chat option is Safe Chat or free chat, where the user may type their own messages. However it is still filtered through a safety chat and a warning will appear if you try to use potentially unsafe words that are not allowed. Other users will not see any message appear if your free-chat includes certain words or phrases.

You can also send "Jam-A-Grams", which is the in-game mail system. Each Jam-A-Gram includes a background image selection, a stamp image selection and a list of sayings you can send. Only members can type in their own messages and if you have Safe Chat on your member, you can't use the Safe Chat on a Jam-A-Gram. You may also attach a gift to send to another user which is allowed by members.

Education

Animal Jam is very educational as they have places to learn about animals. There are many places around Jamaa to get educated.

Sarepia Theater

The Sarepia Theater is a place where jammers can watch a few short educational National Geographic videos.

Brady Barr's Lab

Brady Barr's lab is a place where Jammers can go on expeditions, do experiments and learn all about land animals. There is also a theater instead of short films Jammers can watch answers and leave questions for Brady by clicking on the "Ask A Question" button under the videos. In expeditions Jammers watch an interactive video of Brady Barr finding a Giant Python. The interactive part is Jammers have to choose options of what Brady should do.

Tierney's Aquarium

In Tierney's Aquarium Jammers can go to the workbench and watch educational videos about sea equipment. In the theater jammers can watch answers and ask questions by clicking on the "Ask a Question" button. There is a touch pool in the aquarium where jammers can touch certain animals. If you have a water animal, then you can get to the underwater section of Jamaa through a second touch pool. There is also a minigame of spotting fish and sea creatures. When you find a sea creature, touch it gently to get gems and credit for it. When you find all of the creatures of that species, you get a plushie.

Conservation Museum

In the museum Jammers can look at exhibits and learn about animals and donate to help endangered species with gems.

Games

At the end of certain games it shows a fun fact. for example, "You won! Fun Fact! Animals live in dens!"

Awards and Nominations


Game economy and trading

The in-game monetary system is the use of Gems that you can earn by playing mini-games and buddy games. There are also Gem gift certificate codes that can be purchased in the Animal Jam Outfitters Shop. There is a daily gem bonus that you get during your first daily log on that you spin for a random amount which is multiplied by how recently you logged on last (times 1, 2, or 3). However you earn your gems, they can be spent at the various shops throughout the lands and parties of Jamaa for den items, pets, clothing and accessories. There is no option to trade or gift gems to other players. Every two weeks or so, a game in the land is updated to 'double gems'. If yu play that game, you can earn more gems than playing a regular game. There is a Gem Donation area in the Conservation Museum that you can donate any gem amount towards helping an endangered animal of your choosing. The trading system was introduced into the game in March 2011 after players petitioned the designers to create a safer way for trading items between players. The new currency is "diamonds". Members get them weekly but non-members can win them in the daily spin.

Gem donations

The Gem donation box in the Conservation Museum is one way that Animal Jam helps support the mission of the National Geographic Society to inspire kids to care about the planet. A significant portion of all revenue Animal Jam collects goes to support National Geographic's worldwide conservation efforts. By June 2012, players enabled the Animal Jam creators at Smart Bomb Interactive to contribute over $3 Million to the National Geographic Society's work. The Play Wild Fund was introduced in November 2011 to allow players to choose which animals and conservation efforts they wanted to donate to.

On April 12, 2012, monkeys went endangered in Jamaa. Players could no longer create monkeys during this time. Players donated 100 million gems, to help save the endangered monkey population. The monkeys were saved and returned to Jamaa on August 30, 2012.

Codes

Every month or so, Animal Jam releases new codes to unlock free gems or special items. These are often found in the Daily Explorer. Players can enter these codes when logging in to play Animal Jam.[4] Most codes give players 500-1000 gems for free, but some give the players rare prizes, such as birthday cakes or clothing. Codes can only be used once by each player and expire after a few months. Codes that have been expired will let the player into the game, but no prizes or gifts are received.Codes will sometimes not work, because of a glitch.

Gameplay environment

Animal Jam is divided into multiple lands, oceans, parties, and games. Each account is provided with a free basic den, which is a lockable home that can be decorated with den items. Players are able to shop for den furniture and clothing. Only members can shop for different dens, apart from an underwater one for everybody called the 'Sunken Ship'. Each location in Jamaa features different habitats, shops, pets, games, journey book animals, educational videos, and reading information. There are even a few hidden areas and Easter eggs for explorers to find.

References

  1. ^ National Geographic Animal Jam surpasses 6 million young players - PRNewswire
  2. ^ National Geographic Animal Jam hits a million kids - VentureBeat
  3. ^ National Geographic Animal Jam surpasses 6 million young players. - PRNewswire
  4. ^ Animal Jam Guide: How to Use Codes

External links