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Herotopia: Learning to deal with bullies in a virtual world

Herotopia, a multi-player online game in which kids become Superheroes in order to battles bullies and make the world a safer place, has recently undergone a makeover from Jagex, publisher of Runescape and War of Legends. Although much of the original Herotopia remains intact, there are now many more missions, games and puzzles.

Before kids can start playing Herotopia, they need to register a Superhero name and password. (The site recommends no real names are used.) Registration must be confirmed via a parental e-mail. Once confirmation is received, the child’s account is credited with a few hundred Topia Tokens for in-game purchases.

Herotopia now boasts over 75 individual missions and quests that take players to famous cities around the world, such as New York, Paris and Beijing, where they learn about local landmarks and battle the Bully Bunch, who are intent on causing trouble. However, all the battles are non-violent, consisting of harmless gestures like throwing banana skins when one of the bullies misbehaves.

Players can customize their Superhero and interact with other Superheroes, but online “chat” and other actions are restricted to selections from innocuous pre-populated menus. The user interface is very easy to follow and everything is accomplished with clicks of the mouse. Although the underlying message is how to deal with bullies in a non-confrontational way, there are plenty of more conventional mini-games to keep kids busy.

As with most “free” virtual worlds, Herotopia provides fairly constant reminders of the benefits of upgrading to a paid account. By upgrading, players can create their own customized Superhero, adopt an orangutan sidekick, decorate a secret hideout, and gain access to additional games, VIP rewards, unlockables, and much more. The All-Access membership plan costs $5.95 per month. Discounted 6-month and 12-month plans are also available.

Herotopia is geared towards children ages six and up. Although younger first-time users will need help in setting their account up and finding their way around, they should quickly get the hang of it. Most computer-savvy 8-year-olds will have no problems working their way around the site.

Although Herotopia doesn’t claim to solve bullying or empower kids to deal with every difficult situation they are likely to face in their young lives, it does make kids aware of the problem. By dealing with it in a fun and informative way, Herotopia can definitely be a helpful part of the conversation.

Publisher: Jagex Games Studio

Platform: Browser-based PC game

Genre: Virtual online world

Cost: Free, although access to many of the features requires paid membership

ESRB Rating: Not rated

Comment by electina, posted 7/7/2012, 11:47 PM:

this game is awsome
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