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Growtopia - A Parent's Guide
Is this game OK? Getting a handle on Growtopia may take a parent some time but it got the thumbs up from me in the end.
When my kids started to play Growtopia, as a naive parent I didn't think much of it at all until it started a fire in our household - it is highly addictive but this may not be a bad thing necessarily as it teaches social interaction and standards of behaviour. It also is an opportunity to make friends from all over the world.
Growtopia presents a lot of in-game problem solving (including math) which challenges kids to develop skills and a certain level of street cred - including (which surprised me at first) the ability to scam others. But that's life you begin to learn!
At one point, I wanted to DELETE this game off all devices because of all the emotions it brings up including fights you've got to break up between your kids. The frustrating part is not knowing how to handle some of the difficult situations that grow out of mismatches in moral developement.
My six year old treated the rare and cherished possessions of her sisters as things she could joyfully take. She's only six. Her older sisters didn't think that was an excuse and they took their imaginary items very seriously. I didn't know why until I learned, it can take literally days to accumulate items in Growtopia (like a prized rainbow dragon pet) which become a kind of inventory of special and not so special articles one owns. Some of these items are very rare so there is a lot of status in having them.
Inevitablly, due to where a child is in their development, the game can end up in arguments and emotional upheavals and as a parent one has to try to manage this.
This can get very challenging as you hear the interactions across the house where everyone is on a device playing the same game in a different room.
In the long run, however, kids learn to cope with the game better and better and as a parent one begins to see the educational value of this game - what it teaches children - and what it helps to teach you as a parent.
You learn to be an adjudicator and help your child navigate the morality of their actions and to observe how others behave and learn from that.
Literally thousands of people from all over the world can be on this game at the same time and many of them have learned how to scam things out of each other.
My mantra with the game has come to be "What's the Lesson [insert child's name here]?"
Having a secure password, not telling it to anyone and logging in every time you play is just one of the many that two of my kids had to learn...THE HARD WAY!
It's not all serious - far from it. When your daughter tells you she's a noob and that she got a date with a pro that's got angel wings and laser eyes, you sit up and listen!
It's actually becomes extremely amusing when you find out some of the goings on and as a parent you get drawn into the events children are creating and experiencing.
1. Changing oneself into the opposite sex - by way of (for example) donning an Afro hairdo or a Viking Helmet and Moon Boots and then getting married to a 'wife' or two who fight each other to gain your affections!
2. You can get married a number of times.
3. You can get married to a 'husband' then scam the poor sod by taking everything he owns! (bit too close to home for me.LOL!)
4. I learned that you can even be cursed in Growtopia and end up ducked taped in HELL! Duck taped means you can't talk which in Growtopia means not being able to type and communicate with your keyboard!
5. I'm told you can even be a visitor to hell - well, well what a tour that proved to be. Especially when The Cursed were pointed out to me. People who could never get out and were permanently ducktapped and grey!
6. The Growtopia world is full of scammers - there are thieves everywhere thinking that's the way to get ahead. They will pretend they will do a swap with you and instead do a runner. At the same time there are humanitarians to who donate stuff to you.
7. You can lose everything you've ever owned due to a six year old younger sister getting on your mini Ipad and hacking in through your unsecured login.
8. It goes on and on.
About the Game
What is it?
You need wifi as it is a multiplayer game on the internet which players join in from all over the world.
It was created by two game developers - Seth A. Robinson and Mike Hommel - and was released in 2013.
When you start Growtopia, you are a noob (newbie) - you have just the bare essentials and if you watch a game of Growtopia the noobs are the players who look rather plain. My daughter tells me that noobs wear bad clothes - drab and uninteresting and nothing special or rare about them.
The game is based to some extent on parkouring - my six year old knew what this meant which really made me feel outdated until I realized she was talking about an aspect of this game which didn't quite fit the formal definition but which was widely understood by players.
Formally speaking, Parkour is a French term. Essentially, it is the idea of getting through a series of obstacles - like a military discipline - to achieve a goal.
My older daughter explained it as going into a world and creating jump maps. For example, a lava block which you might have to jump over but if you run into too many times kills you. Another example, Venus Plants and Spikes (not blocks in this case) also deadly killers if you run into them.
If you make it through a Parkour, you might make it to a VIP room where you can talk with other Growtopians who also made it through the but in some "Parkour Worlds" you may come across a Fake Prize where you will be scammed into thinking you will get a pro prize that will make you the best Growtopian.
You spent an hour trying to complete the course but, watch out for this scam which will leave you feeling dissappointed after hours of trying.
Gems are Growtopia's currency used to buy things - such as seeds, clothes, hairdoes, world locks, pets and Pro Stuff. You can also trade your stuff for other things other Growtopians have in their possession or in their pockets.
Seeds can be planted and can grow into blocks, plants, signs, things that you build like cave background. There is a seed for everything in Growtopia, I am told except for Pro Stuff.
Clothers and hairdoes are self-explanatory.
World locks protect your world - keeping them safe from thieves. Never plant, build or put anything in your world if you don't have a world lock in place to protect it.
World locks can be yellow. The best ones are blue and called D - Locks (Diamond Locks). Some are Green locks. These are E - Locks (Emerald locks). Locks come in different sizes - small, big and huge locks to cover spaces within a world.
Locks can be bought with Gems or traded.
Pets make you look cool - like a dog or a cat but more commonly bats, lions, bunnies, butterflies - that follow you where ever you go and can never get hurt, even if you do.
Pro Stuff is what Growtopians think is cool and awesome. For example, Starboard - makes you go faster. Wings - allow you to jump two block higher than a noob. Dragons - Ice dragons, Red and Fiesta Dragons.
Now I must admit a pet dragon would be pretty cool compared to a plain old cat or dog as a pet but in Growtopia I'm told cats and dogs are rare too!
Dating in Growtopia.
Love,Couple, Kiss, Dating, Classic Date Worlds and more are all Dating Worlds.
In these world, usually made by Pros, you go to get boyfirends, meet people or get adopted by a family so I'm told!
You can also get married in these dating worlds.
One of my daughters, when further questioned, told me she's been married about 77 times.
Well, I haven't had to pay a dowry yet! Thank goodness.
If you want to be a baby - you go into an adoption room in one of these worlds where you sleep until a couple wanting a baby come and adopt you.
Unfortunately, for adoptive parents in Growtopia, these fake babies readily abandon the kind parents who've adopted them and took them into their family homes.
Everything in Growtopia can be done at the child's own pace.
Lessons in Growtopia
Growtopia is basically a game that teaches children what to do in their social interactions. How to treat others.
The game is full of players scamming one another and my kids, to my horror, scammed a few people themselves.
It was almost like a rite of passage in Growtopia - from what I could see.
These scams go on all the time - for example saying you will trade something for something another player has that is highly valuable and then exiting their world without a trace.
At first I was shocked that my daughters could behave like this to anyone but having realized it is what goes on in the game, you begin to see that Growtopia teaches meaningful life skills about how people in real life can be - unscrupulous and more importantly, the regrets of behaving that way yourself - especially when you get your karma!
The game helps to sort out where they want to be as Growtopians and by extension, what type of behaviour they condone as right and proper for themselves and others.
Over time, you see their development in this moral sense as they learn the various ruses that have been done to them and that are part of the game.
You see them angry and hurt by what others do and then you see them getting a thrill out of doing the same trick to some poor unsuspecting noob. That's the way it seems to go.
Of course, many of the infractions are actually done without any real malice - simply without thinking anything was wrong with the action.
For example, one of my daughters had borrowed a valuable item from her sister and without thinking lent it to one of her friends who was also online playing at the time.
LESSON: It's not your place to lend someone else's stuff. You can lend your own but you have to ask the owner if you want to lend an item you don't own.
LESSON: Nice people don't scam. I think without exception, all my daughters have been scammed at one point or another but it's not a nice way to play and they choose not to do it.
LESSON: The Golden Rule : treat others as you would want to be treated yourself.
Over and over again one finds oneself, as a parent in a mediation proceeding with one's kids over events happening on Growtopia and children definitely grow with this game - especially socially.