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I'm a geek. Always have been. I've been playing MMOs for years, some casually, some hardcore. But, having twins five years ago changed everything, not surprisingly. I wouldn't trade it for anything, and getting me away from my MMO-ways was a good thing, in all honesty.
Over the years, they've always enjoyed sitting on my lap, watching me play whatever PC game I was playing. The Sims titles, MMO-trials (I don't really sub to anything now-a-days), countless F2P style MMOs, single-player RPGs, RTS-style games (they like watching me play Demigod alot).
They always want to play with me, to-which I usually end up closing the game and finding something else for us to do, as most of the games I play are tougher than a 5-yr old can handle.
We've had a lifetime membership to JumpStart since they we're three, and I've got an avatar in that game so the three of us can play together. I have to admit though, JumpStart is not the type of game I can stomach for long. It's not-surprisingly too child-focused for an almost-40 dad, LOL. It's a great game for kids though, and my boys enjoy it.
Anyways, about 8 months ago I tried out Free Realms. I tried it more for myself, as it seemed like it could be a nice F2P MMO I could play casually. As I played, though, I saw that it might also be a game my boys (still 4 at the time) could handle. So I installed it on each of their PCs (of course, the sons of a geek have their own PCs already, LOL) and I helped them get their avatars setup.
Each of them needed almost no help in getting into the game play. They already knew the basic concept of "killing bad guys" from watching me play the various games they've watched me play, and they already had the basic movement skills from JumpStart. They enjoyed, very much, the other aspects of Free Realms. The various occupations your avatar can be, which gives them many different things to try out. I mean, seriously, the Adventurer alone, where-in you gain levels for pretty much just running around to every nook-and-cranny of the world will even keep you busy, LOL.
After a couple months, I broke down and purchased lifetime memberships for all three of our accounts. And I have to say, it was money well spent. They absolutely love having a house they can decorate anyway they want. The were overjoyed with the fact that they can have a pet to play with. And the fact that they can ride a dinosaur and a hoverboard has them smiling ear-to-ear.
It's an absolute joy to watch them sit across from each other, and hear them talk about grouping with each other to go kill bad guys, or helping each other find a certain race-track that they especially prefer, or listening to them get excited about the free item they just got from the Login screen. They especially like to visit "daddy's house", because I go out of my way to make sure it's wild and crazy, so they'll have fun running around looking at things.
We each have our favorite occupation. One of them just loves the race-car title, and he's pretty good at it too, having reached level 12 on that job. One of them loves just being an Adventurer. Running around every where with his pet pooch, even getting his character into spots I never thought of trying to run my character too, LOL. I, being the old MMO-warhorse from yester-year, enjoy the Warrior role, but also like running around as the Adventurer.
But what I enjoy most, is the sense of teamwork, patience, and money it's given both of them. They work together a lot when they play. Helping one another find certain areas on the map. Helping one another "kill bad guys" when they group together. Patience, not surprising, especially since one of them likes the Race Car job. It's tough to win in those races. I'll admit, I suck at the Race Car job. But my boy who loves that job is quite good, and it took quite a bit of patience to get that way. And being a little hyper, him learning patience was a total bonus for mom and dad, LOL.
Then there's the sense of money. They know, that if their coins are at Zero, they can't buy anything from the coin-shop. They've learned that they need to go earn coins if they want to buy something. And they've also learned that they need to save their coins if they want to buy the cool stuff for their house, or new weapons, or new clothes for their pets or themselves. I enjoy hearing them talk about "saving up my coins to buy (insert item here)...". It amazes me that at 5yrs old, they have grasped that concept already.
Hell, I barely remember being 5yrs old, but I can guarantee I wasn't grasping the concept of saving money yet. I'll bet I as out back digging a hole, or eating a mud pie, or burning ants with a magnifying glass, LOL!!!
We (mom and dad) do buy the Station-Cash cards for them once in a while. Not very often though. 2 $10 cards a couple months ago, and 2 $10 cards just this weekend to go along with them turning 5. Out of all the presents they got from friends, family, and mom & dad, they were most excited about the $10 cards. They each bought something different with the SCs, one purchasing a spooky house, one purchasing a large wilds house, and both purchasing new rides, and some clothes for their characters and their pets (they each had SCs still saved from the last time they got cards).
I know, I'm sure there are those out there that are going to think I'm just the worst dad in the world. Letting his 5yr olds "veg in front of a computer all day". Which is far from the fact. They're allowed to play 45 minutes to 60 minutes a day, on school-days. And then, only if they finish home-work and baths in time. Otherwise no Free Realms (yes, all-day kindergarten and they get at least 45-minutes of homework each day already). On the weekends, only after dinner (once it's dark out, basically). During "sun-hours", we do stuff outside, or get our running around done.
I think the part I love most, is to see how excited they are when "daddy's guy" is in the game with them. They love playing chase, and trying to keep up with me. They love to get into a group and go kill bad guys. And they just love to see what crazy new stuff I've setup at my large wilds house for them to check out.
For the most part, we spend very little $$$ on Free Realms, past what I dished out for the lifetime memberships a few months ago. It keeps mom sane, because she has time to workout while the boys are playing where she can keep an eye on them. I enjoy it for the same reason, I can actually get a little barbell time again. Best of all, all three of us enjoy playing, me mostly because I get to watch them have a good time.
Is it a good thing? I don't know, but it works out well in our house, which has been pretty crazy since the twins got here 5 yrs ago. Will it work the same for everybody? No, probably not.
That's just my two-cents on Free Realms. Do with it as you will,