As longtime fans, we're excited to learn that, with the launch of its Kart Kingdom, PBS KIDS is entering the world of community online gaming. Geared toward kids in the 6- to 9-year-old age range, this collection of games does what PBS has done successfully for years: blend learning and fun in a safe place to make for a sneakily educational experience.
In Kart Kingdom, kid cruise around a charming stylized landscape, completing quests, crafting contraptions and gadgets, and collecting points to help them unlock rewards that benefit the entire Kart Kingdom community. The underlying educational element is based on systems thinking, which encourages approaches to problem solving that take into account context, relationships, and influences—but the play's the thing.
We appreciate that the community aspect of the games lets kids play together and team up to solve, create, and tinker with just a tap of the word bubble icon at the bottom of the screen. To ensure a totally secure environment, kids can interact only through using a safe list of preselected words and phrases.
Parents will appreciate that while game play does require players to register, no e-mail address or personal information is required. Kids create a user name, password and a fun "secret code," made using symbols. My (now not-so-secret) code consists of a kitty, a plate of spaghetti, and the color green. And that's a code I won't forget.
Finally, kids will appreciate exploring a virtual world, playing alongside their friends, and playing with favorite characters from PBS KIDS properties, such as Wild Kratts, Cat in the Hat, Fizzy's Lunch Lab, and Plum Landing.
Currently available as a browser-based game, Kart Kingdom will launch on iPad and Android tablets just in time for summer travel.
Krista Hojnowski is an assistant researcher at FamilyFun. Her earlier career ambitions included being a detective in the Bloodhound Gang from PBS classic 3-2-1 Contact.