Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Welcome to the Worldwide Wonders of Wiglington and Wenks!

Fostering initiative to learn on their own is likely ( I hope!) one of your goals as a parent. Although it would be great to hand our children a stack of need-to-know-before-you-leave-home books and say, “read these over the next 10 years,” that is a notion that just won’t catch on! However, these days there are so many great resources that encourage our children to learn in the ways most modern day kids are wired, why not take advantage of this convenience?
One such website, Wiglington and Wenks, has created a virtual world rivaling any time-wasting video game in graphics, but with just the opposite effect-- learning! Based on the popular children’s series by John Bittleston, Wiglington and Wenks has created a virtual parallel world of our own. With geography as the basis and history as the thrust, this wonderland will offer a plethora of educational adventures around the world from the comfort of your home PC! In exchange for my review, we were given a 30-day membership to all aspects of the game.
Your child will build a “mini-me” version of themselves, as well as select an onscreen name. One cool aspect is that they will be able to interact with other kids from all over the world that are playing as well! In the meantime, they will be exploring the world as well as having the ability to earn points and create their own little microcosim by purchasing their own island that they can decorate and personalize. These fun little touches are really just the motivating factor behind the bigger concept: teaching geography, history and environmental awareness.
Famous people from the past, from emporers to scientists, have been time-warped to the present. Worse yet, they have amnesia and cannot remember who they are or where they came from. The child’s job is to is to help gather artifacts that will help the displaced VIP remember who they are and make it back to their spot in history.
Designed by a group called Media Freaks, the engaging cartoons have depth and an “Adventures in Odyssey” feel. Wiglington and Wenks is an adventure for kids that create and effortless educational experience. If only history had been this interactive for us as kids, perhaps we would have retained more as adults!
Protecting your child online is of utmost concern for the Media Freaks crew. They have many forms of protection in place to ensure your child is safe in their virtual world. You can read all precautions that are in place for your child’s sake, by clicking on the "parent's corner" icon and then clicking on "safety features" (I tried to make a link right to it, but it wouldn't cooperate!). You can get to all that by clicking here.
Some of you may appreciate knowing that one important person to be rescued from the present is Charles Darwin. We did not play the game to the point of trying to rescue this particular character so I don’t know how much evolution is stressed in the process of trying to rescue him. I just figured it would be good to point that out. 
One other item of note is the emphasis on environmental issues and the responsibility we all have in preserving our planet. I am in agreement with being a good steward of the Earth but, again, did not experience enough of the game to know how much they embrace the “mother Earth” sort of philosophy. I would make the assumption that it mostly stresses each of us doing our part...but I do not know if it slants into any sort of Earth “worship”, so to speak. Again, it just seemed like an issue that some may like to be made aware of. 
The last two cautions aside, I would say any level headed, well-rounded child can play and excel and learn in the world of Wiglington and Wenks, accepting that Darwin and the Environment are important aspects of our modern-day life; they are matters that impact us everyday in one way or another so we must handle them in light of Scripture.
Have a look around and see what you think about this didactic adventure. Membership to the basics of the game is FREE! However to access all areas and have special privileges, you can also purchase a membership (ranging from $5.99 per month or a full year for $59.99) Click here to link to Wiglington and Wenks’ world, sign up, play around and see if you want the full Monty! It is truly an affordable way to explore the planet and appreciate it through the lens of history. The fun factor is definitely there, just the icing on the cake of learning through experiencing!

I would like to post a comment that the CEO of Wiglington and Wenks posted on another Crew member's blog. It is concerning the "chat feature" of the website, that allows players to interact. We didn't do much chatting so I didn't give it much thought. However, it is nice to know that Media Freaks is listening to parent's safety concerns. Here is what was stated:

Regarding the chat aspect, you would be pleased to hear that we will soon release 3 levels of chat that can be selected during registration -

No Chat - The No Chat option is for parents who want their children to focus solely on the virtual world quests and not interact with other players. Using this option, your child will not be allowed to engage in any form of chat, nor see any chat. You can toggle this feature off later in the Parents Control Panel and switch this to Safe Chat mode.

Safe Chat - The Safe Chat mode is for parents who want to limit their children's interaction on the virtual world. Using this option, players will only be able to chat and view chat using chatlines from a safe pre-constructed list.

Moderated Free Chat -
The Moderated Free Chat mode is for parents who want their children to learn about different cultures and gain social skills through interacting with children from other countries and through engaging in team activities. Using this option, players are able to chat freely using a chat system which is moderated for abusive language. However, no chat moderation system is 100% foolproof and occasionally abusive language presented in different forms may still surface. It is up to parents to guide and educate their children on reacting appropriately to such unwanted chat.

In fact, we have already developed the safe chat system and it is currently in Beta testing phase - http://blog.wiglingtonandwenks.com/ww-news/wiglington-and-wenks-launches-beta-testing-of-safe-chat

You have our assurance that child safety is of utmost importance to us and we will keep working hard to make it as close to perfection as possible.

1 comment:

Aldric said...

Dear Heather,

Thank you so much for your kind review and for taking the time to do this.

My name is Aldric - the Deputy CEO and Chief Executive Producer of the Travels of Wiglington and Wenks Virtual World.

Indeed when we developed the virtual world, we asked ourselves many times if we had developed something too complex to navigate. At the same time we were also certain that we did not want to create something that was too patronizing to the clever kids of today.

I am glad that you have recognized our efforts to bring educational facts to children in the form of fun. As an parent myself, that's how I believe kids should learn.

Once again, I thank you for your valuable time taken to write this review.

Kind regards,

At the Intersection of Creation and Evolution: A Dream

The alliterating story below is based on a dream I had several years ago. Please contact me for permission to reproduce.

Darkness devours me.

I am enveloped in emptiness.

Are my eyes open or are they closed? I strain against this shroud of night and still see nothing.

What is this place?

An image illuminates in front of me. A large, leafy tree streaks past and vanishes.

It deserts me to the darkness again.

In a moment, more images appear. A rapid succession of snapshots and thoughts clamor before my eyes and mingle in my mind.

I see seedlings. Several supple shoots have emerged before me and then swiftly stream away.

“The first trees on earth were not seedlings”, my mind observes. “They were not created as small insignificant saplings.”

That thought is rapidly replaced with a vision of a man.

He’s maybe 30; he is muscular and needs to shave.

He fades away.

In his place I see an infant.

A tiny bundle of pink skin upon a soft blanket flickers briefly in my brain.

“Man was created with age,” is the next statement I hear. “Adam did not begin his life as a baby, he began as a grown man.”

The voice seems like my own.

The thoughts do not.

Reeling before me now is a blur of rivers, forests, mountains and even layers of the earth. It is like a movie rushing rapidly before my retina.

The soundtrack of this epic is proclaiming a peculiarly plain concept:

“The earth was created with age. Creation and evolution are not in total opposition. There is a reason that science finds the earth to be quite old: it was made that way.”

Thoughts continue to tumble through my mind; pictures parade before me. I listen in amazement to what seems to be puzzlingly profound and yet rather apparent all at once.

“Adam was created as an adult. Trees and plants were made fully grown.”

I suddenly feel quite certain that, if I were to chop down some of the trees that had been spoken into existence, I would find a range of rings running through their trunks.

“The earth was brought to life with age built into it… just like Adam. He did not begin life as an infant. The earth came into being with what it would need to sustain the life that was created. It was old when it was young. The world was
made with maturity; it was also produced with purpose.”

These thoughts are thrilling. Why had I not seen this before? It seems so simple. Obtusely obvious. Had others not observed this correlation? If they had, why wasn’t it being candidly conveyed?

In the span of thirty seconds I have been ravaged by a radical revelation. I feel the weight of its worth resting on me; it is tantamount to tangible.

I am neither a theologian nor am I a scientist. I don’t claim that the ethics of evolution are completely compatible with the Bible’s account of creation. But certainly Science can come concurrent to creation and affirm our faith with facts.

Of course, the Omnipotent Originator of the Universe is exceedingly elusive to what our mind could ever envision. Above what science could ever extensively elucidate.

Accordingly, creation is confounding too. Each diverse discovery deems it more marvelous to grasp. Many scientists have reluctantly relented to the theory of Intelligent Design.

That’s why, alongside those facts, we also need faith.

Lying inexplicably at the intersection of those two essential elements is an exceptional endowment: the intermittent insight of our dreams.