National Geographic Animal Jam

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Animal Jam
National Geographic Animal Jam Smart Bomb Logo.png
Current logo
Developer(s) WildWorks
Publisher(s) WildWorks
Engine Adobe Flash
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux, Android, iOS
Release September 9, 2010
Genre(s) MMO, Biology, Educational game

National Geographic Animal Jam is a massively multiplayer online virtual world launched in 2010 by WildWorks in partnership with the National Geographic Society. The game, which has experienced 500% year-over-year growth, has more than 70 million registered players,[1] and it is one of the fastest-growing online children's properties worldwide.[2]

Development[edit]

The game was developed in 2010 by WildWorks (formerly called Smart Bomb Interactive), and it was launched on September 9, 2010.[3] It is one of the fastest-growing online children's properties worldwide; in May 2011, Animal Jam announced it had surpassed 1 million registered players.[4] By August 2012, the game surpassed 6 million players. In March 2013 the game had surpassed 10 million players.[5] In 2014, it was announced Animal Jam has reached 30 million players worldwide.[2] By 2016, it had reached over 50 million players.[6]

Gameplay environment[edit]

Animal Jam takes place in a fictional area known as Jamaa, containing various biomes and cartoon player-created animals. Players can create an animal with an anonymous 3-part name, such as "Crashing Magicshark", dress it up with virtual clothing, and control it in the gameplay environment. The original six virtual animals that could be created were the panda, rabbit, tiger, wolf, koala, and monkey. Many more animals have been added following the six, letting players have the possibility of seeing one of their favorite animals in the game. Players can also customize their dens with furniture, chat with other players, adopt pets, play mini-games, buy additional furniture, clothing, and dens with gems and diamonds as a method of payment, attend parties, and go on various RPG-style adventures. There is a membership feature available costing real money. Members get access to exclusive dens, pets, animals, and adventures, among other things.[7]

Game economy[edit]

The in-game economy is mainly made up of gems that can be obtained by playing games and participating in other activities such as adventures. There is also a more valuable currency of diamonds which can be obtained through Animal Jam Outfitters purchases, membership purchases, the daily spin, and the member daily spin. [7]

Communication and safety[edit]

Animal Jam contains three versions of in-game chat, which offer varying levels of restriction. Safe Chat, the default setting, only allows players to type pre-selected words or phrases. Bubble Chat does not allow players to type messages, but they are still allowed select expressive words and phrases from a pre-approved list. Safe Chat Plus allows players to freely type words and phrases, which are still run through the game’s safety chat filter. Safe Chat Plus is only available to paying members. Parents can control players’ chat settings from the site’s parent dashboard.[8] The game does not allow players to use profanity. One can also report or block other players for unacceptable, impolite, or rude behavior.

Animal Jam is free from outside advertising, and it adheres to a strict privacy policy.[9]

Educational elements[edit]

In addition to in-game nature facts and activities, Animal Jam provides educational video content featuring National Geographic herpetologist Brady Barr[4] and marine biologist Tierney Thys.[10] Furthermore, activities and messages subjected on preventing environmental problems can be found throughout the game.

Other media[edit]

Merchandise[edit]

Animal Jam shirts, books, notebooks, wristbands, tote bags, in-game currency and mouse pads are sold on the Animal Jam Outfitters site.[11]

As of February 2017 Animal Jam has begun having limited edition items that only last a day, such as their sun hoodie, blackout spiked collar, spring worn, and more to come...

In 2013, WildWorks partnered with Sidekix to produce a set of eight stuffed animals modeled after Animal Jam avatars that can "flip" into a ball.[12]

In March 2015, WildWorks announced it had registered Commonwealth Toys and Novelty as master toy licensee.[13] Currently, Commonwealth is producing a new toy line called "Enchanted Earth".

In October 2015, WildWorks named Jazwares as the master toy partner for the Animal Jam brand. Jazwares will develop figures, playsets, and plush items that will launch globally in 2016.[14]

In March 2016, WildWorks added six multi-category licensing partners for the “Animal Jam” brand. The new licensees include Isaac Morris for apparel, Accessory Innovations for bags, backpacks, and accessories, Palamon for costumes, Wooky for crafts and activity books, Bulls-i-Toy for trading cards, and Penguin for publishing.[citation needed]

In June 2016, WildWorks released Animal Jam toys which consisted of stuffed animals, figures and toy sets.

In September 2016, thetoyinsider.com included Animal Jam in the Hot Top 20 Game List for 2016.[15]

On November 16, 2016, WildWorks launched "Animal Jam Box", a subscription box containing merchandise sent to those who subscribe the box plan.[16]

Animal Jam Academy[edit]

Animal Jam Academy is a program by WildWorks directly linked to the Animal Jam website. It deals with projects with the themes of science, technology, engineering, and art.[17]

Mobile apps[edit]

On July 18, 2013, a mobile app based upon the game titled "Tunnel Town" was released.[18] The game allows for players to create their own "bunny empires" by purchasing new rabbit species. Later in 2013, a second Animal Jam mobile game was made available for purchase, titled "AJ Jump."[19] This game centers on kangaroos (which, at the time, were recently introduced to the Animal Jam game) and is very similar in format to Doodle Jump.[20] After two years without an Animal Jam-based mobile game release, WildWorks released Play Wild!, a 3D mobile version of the Animal Jam universe.[21] In February 2016, they announced their mobile app Play Wild had reached over 1 million downloads. The app is the top downloaded iPad educational game in 20 countries, the top downloaded game for kids 9-11 in 35 countries, and top grossing iPad game in 54 countries.[22] On May 19th, 2017, it was announced Animal Jam - Play Wild won the Google Play Awards 2017 for Best Kids' App. [23]

Donations[edit]

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.[24] A significant portion of all revenue Animal Jam collects goes to support National Geographic's worldwide conservation efforts. They determine which animal National Geographic should contribute more to. By June 2012, players enabled the Animal Jam creators at WildWorks 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.[25]

Awards[edit]

Award Recipient Result
Mr. Dad[26] National Geographic Animal Jam Won
National Parenting Publications Awards[27] National Geographic Animal Jam Won
Mom's Choice Awards[28] National Geographic Animal Jam Won
Life Buzz Award[29] National Geographic Animal Jam Won
About.com Readers' Choice Awards[30] National Geographic Animal Jam Won
Webby Awards, Games Category[31] National Geographic Animal Jam Nominated
2016 Parents' Choice Awards [32] National Geographic Animal Jam Won
2017 Google Play Awards, Best Kids App Category[33] Animal Jam - Play Wild Won


Reception[edit]

The game has received relatively positive reviews, however was criticized for moderation flaws and strict limitations. Common Sense Media reviewer Dana Villamagna gave Animal Jam a 3-star rating, saying that the site was most appropriate for ages ten and over due to dangerous "unmonitored chat."[34] Gamezebo reviewer Nick Tylwalk gave the site a 4-star review, stating that "there's something [here] for animal lovers over a wide range of ages."[35]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Crawley, Dan (March 2015). "Animal Jam teams with Free the Children to encourage global citizenship in kids". VentureBeat. 
  2. ^ a b "National Geographic Animal Jam surpasses 6 million young players". PRNewswire. August 2012. 
  3. ^ "Young Explorers Experience Ultimate Online Playground With National Geographic Animal Jam". National Geographic. August 2010. 
  4. ^ a b Takahashi, Dean (May 2011). "National Geographic virtual world Animal Jam hits a million kids". Venture Beat. 
  5. ^ Grubb, Jeffrey (March 2013). "National Geographic's Animal Jam reaches 10 million players — iOS spin-off in the works". VentureBeat. Retrieved 24 September 2016. 
  6. ^ http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/-2094049.htm
  7. ^ a b "Animal Jam - Member Benefits". www.animaljam.com. Retrieved 12 June 2017. 
  8. ^ "What types of chat can I set for my child's account?". Animal Jam Help Center. 
  9. ^ Schiff, Allison (December 2014). "Animal Jam: 'Monetizing An App For Kids Is Easy - Doing It Ethically Is What's Hard'". Adexchanger. 
  10. ^ Abraham, Kera (June 2014). "Marine biologist and science educator is on a mission to promote ocean stewardship.". Monterey County Weekly. 
  11. ^ "Animal Jam Outfitters". animaljam.com. 
  12. ^ "Sidekix". sidekix.com. 
  13. ^ "Animal Jam lands master toy licensee". March 10, 2015. 
  14. ^ "WildWorks Names Jazwares as the Master Toy Partner for Animal Jam Brand". Marketwire. Retrieved 2015-11-25. 
  15. ^ "Top Holiday Toys - 2017 Holiday Toy Reviews - The Toy Insider". The Toy Insider. Retrieved 12 June 2017. 
  16. ^ "Animal Jam Box". animaljambox.com. Retrieved 12 June 2017. 
  17. ^ academy.animaljam.com/posts/
  18. ^ "Tunnel Town". tunneltown.com. 
  19. ^ "AJ Jump". animaljam.com. 
  20. ^ WildWorks. "AJ Jump: Animal Jam Kangaroos! - Android Apps on Google Play". google.com. 
  21. ^ "Play Wild". animaljam.com. 
  22. ^ "Animal Jam Named Fastest Growing Gaming Site in the United States by SimilarWeb". Marketwire. Retrieved 2015-11-25. 
  23. ^ "Google Play Award Winners 2017: Google picks the best apps and games of the last year". 19 May 2017. Retrieved 12 June 2017. 
  24. ^ National Geographic. "Animal Jam". National Geographic Kids. National Geographic. Retrieved 29 August 2015. 
  25. ^ "Smart Bomb And Animal Jam Help Conserve Big Cats With Today's Launch Of The 'Play Wild' Fund". Develop Online. 
  26. ^ "Seal of Approval Winners, Father’s Day 2011". Mr. Dad. June 2011. Retrieved 24 September 2016. 
  27. ^ "National Parenting Publications Awards :: Virtual". National Parenting Publications Awards. Archived from the original on 3 May 2013. Retrieved 24 September 2016. 
  28. ^ "Mom's Choice Awards - Store". Mom's Choice Awards - Store. Retrieved 24 September 2016. 
  29. ^ "Jodie Lynn's Life Buzz Award Program". Jodie Lynn's Life Buzz Award Program. Jodie Lynn. Retrieved 24 September 2016. 
  30. ^ Matte, Christy (2011). "Best Website for Elementary School Kids - 2011 Readers' Choice Award Winner". About Parenting. Christy Matte. Retrieved 2014-12-28. 
  31. ^ "Smart Bomb's National Geographic Animal Jam Nominated in 17th Annual Webby Awards". National Geographic. April 12, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Animal Jam". parents-choice.org. Retrieved 12 June 2017. 
  33. ^ "2017 Google Play Awards". play.google.com. Retrieved 12 June 2017. 
  34. ^ "Common Sense Media - Animal Jam". commonsensemedia.org. 
  35. ^ "Gamezebo Animal Jam Review". Gamezebo. 

External links[edit]