Animal Jam logo
|Release||September 9, 2010|
|Genre(s)||MMO, Educational video game|
Animal Jam is an online virtual world that was launched in 2010 by WildWorks in partnership with the National Geographic Society. With about 160 million registered players, Animal Jam is one of the fastest-growing online children's properties in the world. 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 who are mainly children and teenagers 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.
Animal Jam was developed by WildWorks and it was launched on September 9, 2010. 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. Since then, Animal Jam's population has grown extensively with the game now having over 150 million players as of late 2017.
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 Coolowl." From that point, players can dress it up with virtual clothing 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 have been added following the six, giving players a possibility of seeing one of their favorite animals in the game.
Players can also 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.
Animal Jam contains three versions of in-game chat, which offer varying levels of restriction. Bubble Chat does not allow players to type messages, but they are still allowed to select expressive words and phrases from a pre-approved 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 allows players to type any word or phrase, although they are still run through the game’s safe chat filter. Safe Chat Plus is only available to paying members. Parents can control players’ chat settings from the site’s parent dashboard. One can also report or block other players for unacceptable, impolite, or rude behavior.
In addition to in-game nature facts and activities, Animal Jam provides educational video content featuring National Geographic herpetologist Brady Barr and marine biologist Tierney Thys. Furthermore, activities and messages about the prevention of environmental problems and events can be found throughout the game.
Animal Jam shirts, books, notebooks, wristbands, tote bags, in-game currency and mouse pads are sold on the Animal Jam Outfitters site.
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. Later, in 2015, WildWorks announced that it had registered Commonwealth Toys and Novelty as master toy licensee. 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.
In June 2016, WildWorks released Animal Jam toys which consisted of stuffed animals, figures and toy sets.
The most popular mobile application by WildWorks is Play Wild, a 3D version of the Animal Jam universe, which was released in August 2015. 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. On May 19, 2017, Play Wild won the Google Play Awards 2017 for Best Kids' App.
On July 18, 2013, a free mobile app based on Animal Jam titled "Tunnel Town" was released. In Tunnel Town, players raise a bunny family underground by purchasing new rabbit species and taking care of them.
Later in 2013, a second Animal Jam mobile game was made available for purchase, titled "AJ Jump." 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.
The Gem donation box in the game's 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 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.
The game has received relatively positive reviews; however, it has received some criticism 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." 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." Animal Jam is also mentioned in The Toy Insider's Hot Top 20 Game List for 2016.
|Mr. Dad||National Geographic Animal Jam||Won|
|National Parenting Publications Awards||National Geographic Animal Jam||Won|
|Mom's Choice Awards||National Geographic Animal Jam||Won|
|Life Buzz Award||National Geographic Animal Jam||Won|
|About.com Readers' Choice Awards||National Geographic Animal Jam||Won|
|Webby Awards, Games Category||National Geographic Animal Jam||Nominated|
|2016 Parents' Choice Awards ||National Geographic Animal Jam||Won|
|2017 Google Play Awards, Best Kids App Category||Animal Jam - Play Wild||Won|
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