Kid-friendly MMO Pirate101 announced by makers of Wizard101
Gamer daddies and mommas have had a longtime ally in KingsIsle, the dev studio behind Wizard101, which has been one of the most entertaining kid-friendly MMOs out there for several years. Just yesterday the studio announced their next offering, Pirate101, which trades in the card-game combat of Wizards for turn-based strategy and throws the whole thing in a pirate world where galleons fly among the stars.
The official website already has a ton of information about the game: it uses the same graphics engine as Wizards and is still aimed at capturing a young audience while keeping their adult counterparts entertained. There's also a break-down of the parental controls available (there are a lot of 'em) and even step-by-step suggestions for throwing a Pirate101-themed birthday party. I'd say KingsIsle might be getting a little ahead of themselves with that, but I've seen first-hand the fanaticism of young guys and girls obsessed with Wizard101 and know that Pirate101-themed birthday parties will absolutely be demanded in the near future.
If you don't have any young rapscallions in your life that you game with, Pirate101 is probably not the game for you. Wizard101 does a tremendous job of throwing in pop culture references to keep adults amused, and its deceptively simple card-based combat offers some deep avenues for strategy that prevents adults from getting bored too quickly. Hopefully KingsIsle will be able to straddle that same balance of accessibility and deep stategy in Pirate101. The shift to turn-based strategy combat gives me hope: it could offer some really fun gameplay for adults, if done properly.
If you're a parent, grandparent, or sibling that likes to play games with a young family member, keep an eye on this game and consider signing up for the closed beta. We'll have a full hands-on preview in the magazine and on the website soon.