I live in a house of computer addicts:
The creators of Shidonni sent me an email asking if I’d like to check out their program. This game is free to play online with an optional pro upgrade that you pay for. We played with both versions, and while the pro version does have more add-ons there was plenty to do with the free version. The creators recommend downloading Microsoft Silverlight to play the game. I tried it without Silverlight for a while; it seemed to work fine, but the edges of the screen got cut off. I downloaded Silverlight and the problem was fixed.
My kids are younger than the recommended age range (4-10 years old), but three-year-old Emma was able to draw her own cute animal:
When you draw an animal, you choose whether it is a flying animal or a land animal, and it moves accordingly. Emma’s animal is a bird. You can draw several different animals that will coexist within your world (which you also draw). Here is my attempt:
You can feed your animal, clothe them, and put them to bed:
Emma was able to draw clothes for her animal, and she figured out how to feed it too, as well as how to play several (not all) of the games. The game has several online interactive features, including the option of sending your animal traveling around the world via the computers of other players. We didn’t do much with the interactive features since my kids are so young, but we did get one traveling animal from the UK, and I could see the traveling feature being fun as part of a geography lesson.
I love the creativity offered by this program, and the art tools are simple but allow for some pretty neat effects, as you can see if you look at the worlds and animals created by other Shidonni users. One thing I would like to see is an offline version of the program. We let our kids use our (at this point pretty defunct) college laptops, but we keep them completely offline (very useful, since Emma knows how to turn on the main computer, go to her favorite game website, and start playing. She also knows how to start a chat with the poor customer service person). The online version allows for lots of interaction with virtual friends, but I like a version that allowed my two children to have their pets interact and play games together on a single computer.
Shidonni is offering one of my readers a three-month upgrade to the pro version of the game. This is a worldwide giveaway. To enter, visit their website and come back here to say one thing you like or dislike about the game. This giveaway ends at 9pm EST 4/30/09.