Fun in the Forest Earns Dizzywood Online A NAPPA Gold Award!

dizzywood2Sept. 23, 2009 Ah, the first day of fall…

An apt time to think about leaves, forests, colorful worlds and transitions into autumn when kids spend more time indoors and parents start hand-wringing about media management, homework hazards and how to balance back to school commitments with screen time online.

The National Parenting Publications Awards has bestowed their NAPPA Gold Award in the software, website and video game category to our friends at Dizzywood so I’m beaming with a huge, fist-pumping, “YES!” to hear it, since they’ve always been ‘gold’ to me.

As I wrote about Dizzywood initially here, their tree planting here, and about our own voting/citizenship experiments ‘in-world’ at Dizzywood here, Dizzywood’s consistently kept their integrity as a free play/ad-free subscription model without tarnishing their quality and creativity. Providing free, safe, collaborative play in the digital sandbox of online games and virtual worlds is challenging these days, especially when prior NAPPA award winners include heavyweight Goliaths like Club Penguin (backed by Disney) and Word Girl (part of the PBS family of quality programming) along with larger sites like Whyville, Moshi Monsters, and other virtual worlds.

Congratulations to all of the critters and humans over at Dizzywood’s indie, small-n-mighty site for making magic happen in so many enriching ways. It can’t be easy…

nappaAfter all, racking up a well-deserved NAPPA Gold Award sans lack of gold from ad revenue and sponsor dollars is notably tough…

…Especially during a downturn that requires patience for these new media ad-free subscription models to take hold.

Dizzywood has earned the respect of parents for consistently keeping their ad-free integrity amidst a slow economic snapback and a plethora of brand infiltration elsewhere.

As a parent, particularly as we fall into the seasonal shifts of winter months and wacky weather I can’t help but consider that for under $5, less than the cost of  ONE matinee movie ticket, this is frugal family fun when kids can enjoy an entire MONTH of “premium” play without being pummeled by branded media messages to ‘buy, buy, baby’…

To me, that’s priceless.

For clarity: Kids can play games for FREE, but ‘membership’ as a premium player is $4.95/mo…well worth the storyline/enhancements, imho.

DW screenhomeIf you want Junior’s own ‘brain bank’ to pick up the tab, Dizzywood is now one of the virtual worlds kids can access through the ‘learn to earn’ homework helper and quiz platform of SmartyCard (which I wrote about here and here) using grade leveled quizzes to ‘earn’ screen time at favorite online sites via prepaid credits.

The NAPPA award team lauded Dizzywood’s virtual activities for building self-confidence, encouraging self-expression, and enabling kids to practice good citizenship online.

To me, that’s ‘seeing the forest through the trees’ of how Dizzywood can use collaborative play and participatory learning to engage, inspire and embed social skills that have POSITIVE appeal, both online and off.

Stay gold, Dizzywood. Stay gold…Congrats again.

Here’s the Dizzywood release in its entirety over at online community safety queen Izzy Neis’ site. Don’t miss Izzy’s other roundups & recommendations of other ‘best bets’ for tween online communities/virtual worlds too!

Related Articles from my prior post on Seeding Virtual Worlds here:

NAPPA Gold Winners of Last Year (2008 video w/Barbara Smith Decker)

Virtual Worlds Bring Eco-Literacy to Kids Online (EcoChild’s Play Interview w/Scott Arpajian by Amy Jussel-Part One)

Gamasutra: Dizzywood’s Arpajian Talks About Motivating Kids Play

Dizzywood Virtual Summer Camp (Derek Baird/Barking Robot)

Dizzywood Gets Props: $1M of them! (Izzy Neis)

Kids Plant Virtual Trees to Benefit Real Trees in Dizzywood (S.Y.)

Dizzywood Engages Youth to Vote in Virtual Elections (collab/S.Y.)

Hurray for Dizzywood: Virtual World With a Purpose (D. Baird)

Virtual World News: Interview W/Scott Arpajian on Bucking Trends

Virtual World News: Kids World Dizzywood Opens

Dizzywood Spins Itself Into the VW Market for Youth


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