This was originally posted on MMO Games on 17 January 2016. It is being re-posted here to archive the work I have done in case the original website ever shuts down.
Exploring Pirate 101
I’ve been enjoying exploring various children’s games this month for a multitude of reasons, namely, to scope out what is currently available that I can utilize with my own children in the future. I’ve heard many a good thing about Pirate 101 and thought it would be a fun game to try, and I definitely wasn’t wrong.
Pirate 101 is a game by KingsIsle Entertainment, the creators of Wizard 101. The game itself is geared toward children approximately aged 10 but could definitely be played by children both younger, and older. It’s a wonderful game for parents to play with (or without) their children as well.
The voice over is charming, and my first time through had me giggling at the French-accented monkey. The combat was engaging, as it required some forethought, and was completely different from any other MMO combat I’ve ever encountered. Overall, it’s definitely a game to check out reviews for, and a game that I want to keep on the radar for when I have children old enough to play with.
However, while shared entertainment abounds, at first glance it doesn’t seem to cover anything educational for children, or ways for parents to engage learning with their offspring. So what are the educational benefits of Pirate 101?
Educational Benefits of Pirate 101
There are more skills children can learn while playing Pirate 101 than first meets the eye. While the game itself is not a game designed around education, there are many subject areas the game pulls from to create teachable moments for children.
Children can learn multiple different subsets of the language arts. For one, their reading, spelling, and grammar skills will improve. All of the dialogue in the game has voice over, but dialogue boxes also appear on the screen while the characters are speaking. These boxes can be used for children to practice their reading and comprehension skills, as well as identifying new vocabulary. Seeing words as they’re spoken also helps to improve spelling skills for when youngsters begin to write. Speaking of writing, many children utilize the environments in Pirate 101 to create fan fiction that they submit to KingsIsle Entertainment. This is creative thought and creation, which are important things for anyone to learn.
The graphics in Pirate 101 are unique with a cartoony style that is unmistakable. Children not only create fan fiction around the game, but also fan art. This teaches them various skills depending on how the art is created. If done as digital art, it teaches children important items within art programs that they can utilize later on in life to great benefit. Even traditional art and sculpture is something that children can take advantage of. Physically manipulating to create art helps children gain spatial awareness.
Players receive rewards and treasure throughout the game. There are also a plethora of items to purchase throughout the game, from gear to mounts and pets, and more. Children must learn how to save their gold in order to buy the items they want from the shops. This teaches them a multitude of money skills including budgeting, saving, and simple arithmetic from spending and earning gold. Youngsters will also learn inventory management. Even though it is not specifically a mathematics skill, it is an important one to learn that ties into budgeting and spending.
While Pirate 101 doesn’t specifically teach skills such as computer programming, digital art, and engineering, one cannot criticize the passion that young players obtain from experiencing amazing virtual worlds. Many future employees in computer science will have gained their passion from gaming at a young age.
Kids can learn about geography and land areas by utilizing the maps in game. Knowing the cardinal directions and how to navigate is important to sailing your ship around the world, and even just finding quest givers and objectives. Children will also gain skills in situational and locational awareness, as well as planning the best route to obtain an objective.
One can’t argue that there is a large amount of history associated with pirates. Ranging from the romanticization of pirates, to exploring pirates from different regions, there is a plethora of knowledge available for parents and children alike. This history brings up many questions to delve into with youngsters, such as why pirates are so popular in the media, or if pirates are really bad guys or good guys. Parents and children can also do research on pirates from around the world to learn more about their stories and discuss if any of the pirates in game remind them of the pirates from long ago.
Even though socialization isn’t a “hard skill” that is taught in classrooms, it is an extremely important thing to learn for everyday interactions in today’s busy world. Despite the limitations on chat functions, children can learn about being polite, helping others, listening, and other skills that will benefit them far into the future and throughout their adult life.
There is combat in Pirate 101, and as such can lead to easy conversation starters for addressing violence, both fantasy and real-life. Being an online game, it also provides many opportunities to discuss online safety and bullying with children. These are not skills that are innately learned, and parents need to spend the time addressing these topics with their youngsters.
There are many educational benefits of Pirate 101 that don’t fall within a specific category, such as focus, concentration, and strategy. The game offers players multiple quests, and it is important for children to remember which items are necessary for which quests, and where to go to be successful. During battles with enemies, players choose weapons and spells needed to defeat their opponents, as well as the placement for their characters based on the number of squares they are able to move. In some instances, players will need to strategize on how to complete objectives while avoiding as much combat as possible. Moves need to be planned in stages, which requires forethought and thinking ahead.
While I’ve touched on many skills that children can learn by playing Pirate 101, there are so many others for them and their parents to discover as they explore the world together.