Thursday, April 8, 2010

TOS Review: Wiglington & Wenks

I admit: before reviewing this site, I had never heard of the books upon which this virtual world is based. All I saw was the title ("The Travels of Wiglington & Wenks"), a couple of animated mice, and the phrase "virtual traveler." Ugh, I thought. This one will be dull.

You'd think I'd know not to judge a book by its cover.

The Travels of Wiglington & Wenks is intended for use by 7-14 year-olds. I admit, this gives me pause. Like many popular "virtual worlds," this one is completely self-contained (ie, you as a parent have little to no control), allows for interaction with third parties, and has associated retail merchandise that your children will begin asking for come holiday time. An "uncensored chat" option lets your kids "talk" with whomever happens to be online at the time. That gives me the heebie-jeebies, and is one reason why we've never engaged in any of the other virtual worlds. No, not even the ones with the cute stuffed animals or the pretend penguins.

What it is, instead, is a creative, inventive board game gone virtual. After choosing a player, your children will be able to journey--literally--around the entire globe, interacting with characters of historical significance (we highly recommend St. Patrick.) Be aware that if your children choose to veer off of this educational course, it's completely possible. The vast majority of the game is just that--a game. You can pop this on and call it school time, but you're really deluding yourself if you do.

Atticus, especially, enjoyed tooling around this site; he is a gamer by nature, and this one, with its flashy graphics and fun, fun, fun! theme sucked him right in. Jo saw through it a bit more and said that she wished there was more depth. No one was drawn in enough to ask about finding the books upon which the site is based, which tells me that this could be a stand-alone game for interested parents.

Access to this site is free, but an upgraded version is also offered for $5.95 per month. We used the Elite Traveler Pass (the upgraded version) but frankly, the free version was fine, too. Since the largest point of merit to me in this product truly was the game aspect, I'd stick with the free offerings. That, and I'd only let my kids play while I was sitting with them. But hey, that's just me. :-)

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of this product for review purposes. Refer to my general disclaimer for more information on my policies regarding reviews.

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