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Animal Jam
National Geographic Animal Jam Smart Bomb Logo.png
Animal Jam logo
Developer(s) WildWorks
Publisher(s) WildWorks
Engine Adobe Flash
Platform(s) Online
Release September 9, 2010
Genre(s) MMO, Educational video game

Animal Jam is an online virtual world launched in 2010 by WildWorks in partnership with the National Geographic Society. With about 160 million registered players,[1] Animal Jam is one of the fastest-growing online children's properties in the world.[2] Animal Jam is free to play using most of the game's features, but exclusives can only be obtained by purchasing a membership.

In Animal Jam, players discover and learn various facts about zoology using the game's numerous features, including mini-games, adventures, parties, and social interactions. Due to its growing popularity, Animal Jam has spawned different types of merchandise, including figurine toys, children's books, and a subscription box.

Although Animal Jam is primarily played online, the Animal Jam universe has been expanded to incorporate mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets, and iOS devices. The most popular Animal Jam mobile app is Play Wild which is a 3D version of the Animal Jam world. However, WildWorks has also developed other apps that are based on the Animal Jam game.

Development[edit]

Animal Jam was developed by WildWorks and it was launched on September 9, 2010.[3] In 2011, Animal Jam had over 1 million registered players in the game. Later, in March 2013, the game had already achieved over 10 million players, a milestone which was made known to all players in the game itself.[4] Since then, Animal Jam's population has grown extensively with the game now having over 180 million players as of late 2018.[1]

Gameplay environment[edit]

Animal Jam takes place in a fictional area known as Jamaa, with various different biomes and customizable animals. New players create an animal with a name composed of three simple words, such as "Awesome Coolclaw." From that point, players can customize and move around with 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 are added following the six, giving players a possibility of seeing one of their favorite animals in-game.

You can get more animals and certain animals with a membership.

Players can customize their own dens with furniture and decorations, chat with other players, adopt pets, play mini-games, buy in-game items, clothing, and dens with gems and diamonds as the game's currency, attend parties, and go on various RPG-style adventures. There is a membership feature available that costs real money; only members get access to exclusive dens, pets, animals, and adventures, among other things.[5]

Communication and safety[edit]

Animal Jam contains three versions of in-game chat, offering various levels of restriction. Bubble Chat restricts players from typing messages but allows them to select predefined words and phrases from a list. Safe Chat, the default setting, allows players to only type words or phrases from a particular list which only the game permits, similar to a whitelist. Safe Chat Plus, available only to members, allows players to type any word or phrase, albeit being run through the game’s safe chat filter. Parents can control players’ chat settings from the site’s parent dashboard.[6] One can report or block another player for unacceptable, intolerable, or inappropriate behavior.

Animal Jam is free from outside advertising, and it adheres to a strict privacy policy.[7]

Educational elements[edit]

In addition to in-game nature facts and activities, Animal Jam provides educational video content featuring National Geographic herpetologist Brady Barr[8] and marine biologist Tierney Thys.[9] Furthermore, activities and messages about the prevention of environmental problems and events 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.[10]

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.[11] Later, in 2015, WildWorks announced that it had registered Commonwealth Toys and Novelty as master toy licensee.[12] 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 began developing figures, playsets, and plush items that launched internationally in 2016.[13]

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

On November 16, 2016, WildWorks launched "Animal Jam Box", a subscription box containing merchandise sent to those who subscribe to the box plan.[14]

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.[15]

Mobile apps[edit]

Play Wild[edit]

The most popular mobile application by WildWorks is Play Wild, a 3D version of the Animal Jam universe, which was released in August 2015.[16] Although the app is free to download and play, it requires a lot of storage space on the mobile device.

In February 2016, WildWorks announced that 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.[17] On May 19, 2017, Play Wild won the Google Play Awards 2017 for Best Kids' App.[18]

Other apps[edit]

On July 18, 2013, a free Animal Jam-based app, titled "Tunnel Town," was released.[19] In Tunnel Town, players raise a bunny family underground by purchasing and raising new rabbit species.

Later in 2013, a second Animal Jam mobile game was made available for purchase, titled "AJ Jump."[20] This game centers on kangaroos (introduced to Animal Jam at the time) with a similar gameplay format to Doodle Jump.[21]

Donations[edit]

The Gem donation box in the game's Conservation Museum is one way Animal Jam helps support the mission of the National Geographic Society to inspire children to care about the planet.[22] 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 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.[23]

Reception[edit]

Animal Jam received relatively positive reviews, with some criticism towards moderation flaws and strict limitations. Common Sense Media reviewer Dana Villamagna gave Animal Jam a 3-star rating, saying the site was most appropriate for ages ten and over due to dangerous "unmonitored chat."[24] Gamezebo reviewer Nick Tylwalk gave the site a 4-star review, stating, "There's something [here] for animal lovers over a wide range of ages."[25] The game is mentioned in The Toy Insider's Hot Top 20 Game List for 2016.[26]

Awards[edit]

Award Recipient Result
Mr. Dad[27] National Geographic Animal Jam Won
National Parenting Publications Awards[28] National Geographic Animal Jam Won
Mom's Choice Awards[29] National Geographic Animal Jam Won
Life Buzz Award[30] National Geographic Animal Jam Won
About.com Readers' Choice Awards[31] National Geographic Animal Jam Won
Webby Awards, Games Category[32] National Geographic Animal Jam Nominated
2016 Parents' Choice Awards [33] National Geographic Animal Jam Won
2017 Google Play Awards, Best Kids App Category[34] Animal Jam - Play Wild Won

References[edit]

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

External links[edit]

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