Panfu: A Safe Online Virtual World?
Panfu Online Games
Owning a pet might not be as significant as owning physical gold, but we all crave the attention of another living creature. Caring for a puppy, kitten, chinchilla, hamster, llama, ferret, piranha, or puff adder becomes problematic in today's busy world. Look to the Internet for convenient solutions to complicated problems: an online virtual pet provides hours of digital fun without litter box cleanings and veterinarian visits. Panfu pets are stylized panda bears that can be customized and adopted from your laptop or digital phone. These adorable online beasts inhabit a virtual world that is mostly free to join and virtually free of programming errors.
Create your customized PanFu Character
Creating your own virtual pet costs nothing. Anoint it as a boy or a girl. Dress it up. Select from a wide variety of shirts, pants, shoes, hair, and hats. Give it a name. Rest assured that eventually your pet will encounter an identically decorated avatar as it travels through PanFu world. Hopefully the software prevents two PanFus from holding the same name.
We don't know if your PanFu can change clothes. After cavorting in the online virtual world, your little pet may become bored with their style or even stressed out by peer pressure. Look for opportunities to grab a new pair of pants or a hip hair style. Don't let your virtual pet get stuck in a digital rut.
Partial registration is actually necessary
Many online virtual worlds, even if they are free, require an email address during registration. Users must provide the address in order to create and customize their characters. Unfortunately, a significant number of these sites do not validate the address. Some sites don't even send a confirmation message. On the other hand, PanFu designers took the additional step. In order to leap into the PanFu world, you must receive and respond to a friendly email. Of course, anyone can create a free email address from gmail, yahoo, or hotmail simply for the purpose of joining the PanFu party.
PanFu programmers don't want your real name or any identifying information. Initially, you won't need to provide an address, phone number, or credit card number. Getting into the game is free.
Where is PanFu?
Every web site has real people behind it. Virtual worlds are programmed by literal graphic designers and coders. PanFu is headquartered in Germany. Given that the Internet is worldwide, the physical location of PanFu servers matters little. A few errors haunt the programming: we found a smattering of German words that seemed out of place.
For example, on the "change your email address" window, we noted the word schicken. Our grasp of Language Arts may not be as bullet-proof as the HubPages Elite, but this don't seem like no English word. A quick trip to a free online virtual language translator revealed schicken as a verb meaning "send, dispatch, send out, send in."
This minor hiccup did not prevent us from having a good time in the PanFu online virtual world. We trundled around, met up with other characters, and played a few games. If there were cheats or cheat codes, we were unable to identify them.
Are Children Safe?
PanFu participants must digitally agree to a Code of Ethics. Bullying, spamming, and other undesirable behavior are discouraged and may result in banishment from the site. No Panda wants to be peppered with toxic chat and hopefully every player will adhere to the rules.
PanFu players have access to a chat feature. Simply enter a phrase and press enter: the words appear above your Panda in a cute bubble. Every other player in the room knows that your little beast is saying. Typing a word on the banned list results in a thundering popup window containing a menu of unacceptable activities. We also tried to enter an email address into the chat window: the software neatly ignored the "@" character. We deviously substituted the word "at". After pressing Enter, we were subjected to the Violations window and banned from chatting. Rest assured that enterprising PanFu players will devise strategies for circumventing these filters, but PanFu designers do get credit for making an effort to protect most players from themselves.
PanFu players are not safe from advertising. Huge banner ads festoon the virtual world on the left and bottom. We observed ads for salty snack foods and cell phones. We don't know the traditional diet of Panda bears, but we assert that they would benefit from a voice-recognition app on their cell phones: they have no fingers with which to dial. Texting would also be problematic.
Large obsequious advertisements also popped up when we jumped between locations in the free online virtual world.
Is your computer safe?
Panfu software operates entirely within your web browser. An add-on called flash is necessary. Virtually all browsers support this little chunk of third-party software provided by the Adobe Corporation. Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox all support this program. Flash rarely exhibits security problems. Adobe distributes free updates on a very regular basis.
Some online virtual worlds and also some popular games, such as Plants vs Zombies, require an executable program to be downloaded and installed onto the host computer. Such a strategy is not a guarantee of disaster, but it does limit the types of computer that can participate in the game. Panfu imposes no such restriction, making it easy to load and play on the vast majority of personal computers.
PanFu is cute. It's no more or less fun than other free online virtual world games oriented toward young participants. Getting started is free, although players will be bombarded with banner ads throughout their online experience.