“I just got my driver’s license,” my 10-year-old daughter announced the other day. “Now I need a car!”
“That’s good honey,” I responded. Her words gave me a shock but I think I pulled off a calm shrug.
“I have an apartment, you know!” She announced thirty minutes later. “I don’t have to live with you anymore!” (That put the current mess in her real-life room in perspective as I imagined it empty of her and all her things.)
My daughter’s unusually accelerated growth started last week when the folks at SuperSecret.com, a new social gaming site for tweens (aged 10â€”13) sent her a free one-year pass to the game. What really got her attention was the brightly colored paint bucket the game passes (there was one for a friend too) came in. There was also plenty of candy, silly string, and an adorable hat in the can, too.
“I love this game!” she announced before she’d even played it, munching happily on the candy, spraying my office with silly string, and wearing the (very fetching) hat backwards.
But now that she has logged several hours on the game, I can say that she does, in fact, love it — and not only because they sent her such sweet swag. (That’s her character above at 15 in her apartment. Only in a virtual world could she have a house-horse for a pet.) She is talking it up to all her BFFs and trying to get everyone to join her in growing up too fast online. And I am slowly getting used to her excitement at being able to do things, virtually, that she won’t be able to do, really, for a few more years.
The premise of the game is that instead of playing as a Penguin or a stuffed animal, the character you play is a kid. “In all our focus groups,” explains the site’s CEO, Ted Barnett, “Someone would inevitably say, ‘I want to be a person. Not an animal.'”
So that’s the idea. As kids progress through the game, they get older. They start out as ten but they grow up fast. They’ll get more freedom, learn to drive, and go off to college before the summer is even over. They get to do all the things kids are in a hurry to do and parents wish would take a little longer. Kids’ real-life identities are still cloaked by an avatar and a fake online identity. But that identity is human. Like most social games, there are lots of puzzles to play along the way but Barnett says he put special care into selecting popular games that already existed to give the site great game play and allow him to focus on the social elements.
The Giveaway: SuperSecret.com wants to give one of my readers this swag bucket (shown) with candy, stickers, silly string, a hat, and a couple of free passes to the game. (A subscription to the game normally costs $4.95 for one month or $19.95 for 6 months.) Post a comment to enter to win.
This contest is closed. Thanks for playing!