Does your 4-8 year old love playing games on the phone or iPad? Do they love to travel? Like to be in control of their world? Airside Andy could be the perfect game for them this summer! We were invited to test out Airside Andy, a new MMO for kids, now I am totally unskilled when it comes to video games, but luckily my nephew was doing his work experience at Mr A’s video game studio, so offered to write the technical bit up as part of his work experience – ‘make it make sense to clueless parents* like me’ was the brief, he nailed it!
*In my defence I did do my MA dissertation on creating MMO virtual worlds, but teaching Media Studies now feels like a lifetime away.
Over to J…
Airside Andy – An Introduction for Parents
Airside Andy is a great game for children aged 4-8. Mainly because it’s a safe environment for your kids to hang out with friends while being able to have lots of fun. It can also be great for parents as some online MMOs require you to pay to play the game. The game is exclusive for tablets and smart phones, helping prevent your child from clicking on things which they shouldn’t, which can be quite common online. There are other great reasons for making this MMO an app as Peter Le Masurier, Co-Founder of Airside Andy explains:
“This is a world first, if you look at other MMOs in this space, such as Club Penguin and Moshi Monsters, they were designed and built originally for PCs then developed into apps. As a result, certain aspects of game play are not wholly suited to the app environment. We focused solely on the mobile and tablet which has allowed us to get it right, right from the start.
“Simple functionality, such as interconnecting play areas means users can walk around as if they are truly within the busy space of a working airport. Together with stunning graphics we are offering kids an open-ended game-play within the fascinating airport environment.”
In the game your child has a little character to customise. Your child can walk around an airport organising cargo, watching planes land and take off, while also being able to customise their hanger. Players are also given an in game smart phone to add friends to talk and hang out with. It’s a very useful tool when it comes to long car journeys, or giving your child something purposeful to do over the long summer.
Kalvin Morrow, Founder of Flying Squirrel Games (Ex Club Penguin and Dragon Vale) said: “Children love airplanes, vehicles and travel; Airside Andy has it all. It’s colourful and creative, and a place where children can work together to keep a real-life location operating and continuously developing.”
Your child can control the airport environment by customising their hanger, talking/hanging out with other workers and putting cargo into planes. New content which the developers recently added was the hair salon and dye machine which my cousin and I played with a little. The machine expands the amount of customisation which was in the game in the first place. You buy different colour hair dyes and hair styles using the in game currency which you make from mini-games, and change the appearance of your character. These are one of the kind of games L currently enjoys playing outside of Airside Andy.
Before I played the game, I had a good idea what the game was going to be as I have played many child friendly MMOs when I was younger e.g. Club Penguin, ToonTown and they were good fun to play. I’m 15 now and of course I don’t feel the same way towards this game. But I played with my 9yo cousin and I feel that she felt the same experience as me when I was her age. After we had finished customising our character, L wasn’t sure what to do or where to go, and me being the older, intelligent, loving and amazing family member I am, pointed to where we needed to go. Kids might need a little support at first and it’s fun for parents or older siblings to be able to play along with them. I feel that she didn’t know what to do at first because there were too many objects in the room hiding the flashing lights. Once we knew what we were doing, L had good fun and there was quite a lot to do.
Overall I recommend this game to parents who want to get their child into an MMO game like this as it’s a lot of fun and your child might have some good memories of a game like this as I do.
by J, aged 15.
Why not have a little look inside the game as L plays and explains it to me and Mr A?
The verdict from Mum
I liked the fact I was emailed when L joined the game with her cousin J, and asked to approve her account, I could then log in to monitor her account. Mr A, who takes the lead currently with monitoring the kids game playing, also pointed out I would get update emails to notify me she was still playing the game which is a good monitoring tool for the video game resistant parent like me. It all seemed very straightforward to a non game player.
I really like the educational impacts, particularly that kids get thanked for picking up rubbish lots!
The unique learning emphasis on this brand new kids’ property is firmly rooted in developing younger children’s knowledge and understanding of the world, especially early concepts connected with Social and Emotional learning (SEL) such as community, cause and effect, collaboration and expressing emotion, as well as those associated with the STEM curriculum – Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.
The graphics are polished and the world is enticing and shiny, if your child is transport mad, Airside Andy will have huge appeal. We carried on playing a little more after my nephew J left, the game is aimed at 4-8 years olds and at nearly 8 and nearly 10, ultimately my kids both felt they were too old for this game, with a game developer for a Dad they have progressed pretty rapidly. It reminds me a little of the style of BBC TV cartoon characters, which my kids have perhaps outgrown but had massive appeal to them in their day – I can see how younger kids would enjoy feeling as if they are really inside a cartoon world and controlling it.
From a game play perspective Mr A ‘explained’ to me this game involves a lot of ‘tapping’ i.e. you tap to do stuff, and although my kids are ready for more of a challenge, this is perfect for 4-8 year olds familiarising themselves with game play and a new online environment. They really enjoyed exploring the environment and the mini games.
This is definitely one to explore for 4-8 years olds, or those new to games, it is also a great way for parents to familiarise themselves with monitoring children’s MMO gameplay.