Do safe online games exist?
September 23, 2010 12:03 AM   Subscribe

My almost 13 year old daughter is bored with Yoville, Farmville, and other FB games. We're in search of free online games that allow her to design an avatar, compete for virtual prizes, and have moderated opportunities for interaction.

I’m happy to say she’s turned off by sites where there is foul language, violence, or sexual content. Our computer is in the living room and she’s very comfortable with me looking over her shoulder as she plays (so far!). I’ve Googled “safe online teen games” and other variations, and found an abundance of sites claiming to be safe, closely moderated, etc. - but I don’t trust them!

I’m asking for your recommendations.
posted by kbar1 to Computers & Internet (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Neopets? I have no idea what the site looks like these days or what its moderation policy is, but I loved it at that age and never encountered anything unsavory. You raise virtual pets in a world with virtual money, flash games, and virtual items. There's a Pokemon-style battleground and more.
posted by asphericalcow at 12:38 AM on September 23, 2010

Freerealms leans more toward MMORPG, but has a lot less emphasis on combat than most and is family friendly. has a nice article about its relevance to kid-friendliness here. If you check out the tags, you might be able to find other like reviews for more ideas.
posted by vienaragis at 12:53 AM on September 23, 2010

Another vote for Neopets. They take privacy and child safety very seriously. It's now a part of the Nickelodeon family. Posting anything that is remotely self-identifying or compromising is grounds for an instant ban. Everything is moderated.

The virtual pets aspect is there, but over the past several years, there has been a growing concentration on customization options. While you don't get a custom avatar, you can customize your pets, you get a virtual home, and the site itself has themes and forum avatars and your own webpage on the site. There are lots of virtual items, as well as prizes in the form of competitions (weekly, monthly, and even two that are annual - one game competition that leads to a daily prize, and the other modeled after the World Cup)

There are also community-based activities like "plots", which involve some aspect of the site's lore, often illustrated in comics, along with puzzles and clues to solve. These usually involve people getting together on the corresponding board to discuss and work things out. There are a couple hundred games at any one time, though a handful are advertiser sponsor games.

Though Neopets was originally designed for college students, the majority of the audience is now young kids (in part, thanks to extensive ad campaigns post-Nickelodeon purchase). I joined when I was around college age and still drop in once in a while, even though there are players less than half my age on there. I dropped in this week, actually, and a new plot has just begun.
posted by cmgonzalez at 1:12 AM on September 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

In addition to Free Realms, there's the new-ish Clone Wars Adventures which, as I understand it, is developed by the same people and just takes Free Realms and plunks it into a Star Wars setting. I imagine there's some violence, but like Free Realms it's pitched at kids, so it can't be too egregious.

Incidentally, What They Play focuses on giving parents information so they can decide what might or might not be appropriate for their kids. And...jackpot: They have a run down on MMOs (including Free Realms & Neopets, but not the Star Wars one because it's too new).
posted by juv3nal at 2:10 AM on September 23, 2010

My son, and I, like Wizard 101. I like to describe it as WoW for kids. She can design her character, and get pets. There are quests to do, but also little mini games where you win gold to buy more things. You can set up a limited chat where she'll only see and use set phrases, or a safe chat which I've never seen anything questionable slip through. The big problem is that she may get bored with the free areas. And then you may find that she either wants to subscribe, or pay to unlock areas as she completes quests.
posted by saffry at 4:03 AM on September 23, 2010

Club Penguin was VERY popular around here. Be warned, though... to get REALLY cool stuff you have to eventually upgrade to a paid membership. But it's highly moderated and even engages the kids themselves as "secret agents" to self-patrol.
posted by I_Love_Bananas at 4:08 AM on September 23, 2010

Leauge of legends is what she would enjoy
posted by ice1sro at 4:23 AM on September 23, 2010

I'd also recommend checking out Free Relams. It's billed as a very family-friendly mmorpg, with colourful, cartoonish animation and lots of fun mini-game features like training pets. But like many free online games, it isn't entirely free, meaning that you will inevitably be encouraged to splash out on microtransactions or upgrade to the subscription service, so something to keep your eye on.
posted by londonmark at 5:47 AM on September 23, 2010

My 14 year old daughter is a big fan of Horse Isle. She has been playing for years and has never had a problem.
posted by COD at 6:17 AM on September 23, 2010

Another vote for Neopets. My kids played there for years. DaughterR still does, on occasion (she's in college now). (SonR prefers FreeRealms.) I like Neopets because there are so many different ways to use the site -- just for the standalone games, or she can do a quest, or join a team and participate in a plot.
posted by jlkr at 6:45 AM on September 23, 2010

How about Kongregate? I've never really paid much attention to the forums or the comments, but it doesn't seem too adult to me. You can design an avatar, get achievements and badges etc...
posted by afx237vi at 8:25 AM on September 23, 2010

Lego Universe!

Comes out next month.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 10:02 AM on September 23, 2010

The Sims 3 isn't an online game in the technical sense, but it has a HUGE collection of online communities, many of which skewed towards a younger audience. As a 38 year-old, I'm often keenly aware of (and bemused by) the knowledge that I'm often more than twice as old as the other Sims players I'm talking to.

The official forums are heavily moderated, and tend to stick closely to topic. If your daughter has any interest in blogging, there is a vast network of Sims 3 blogs where you either blog the progress of your family, or blog "in character."
posted by ErikaB at 10:31 AM on September 23, 2010

There's a new "family server" for Puzzle Pirates that does away with some of the more adult aspects of the game (like gambling and drinking) My 10 year old really likes it.
posted by Biblio at 6:04 PM on September 23, 2010

« Older excited minds want to know: what are some cool...   |   Commercial GIS data providers Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.