YA Clicks February 2008
It’s All Fun and Games!
REBECCA PURDY AND THE WEB SURFERS FROM THE CENTRAL RAPPAHANNOCK REGIONAL LIBRARY
Every young adult librarian knows that gaming is the trend for teen services. Many of us are learning about GuitarHero, DDR, and the Wii, but the Web Surfers and I have discovered that there’s a whole world of free online games out there! Here are just a few of our favorites.
YA LIBRARIAN’S CHOICE
Demand Entertainment, Inc.
3I 5R 5U J M S
This site offers a variety of trivia, quizzes, puzzles, and games. Visitors can take a trivia challenge at the “beginner level” (Who was the only child born in the White House?) or the “expert level” (What year was the typewriter invented?) I discovered different questions each time I visited the site. The sound clip quiz is particularly cool; players hear a sound clip and have to correctly identify the movie from which it is taken. Under the puzzles category, there is a picture quiz where you see a partial close-up photograph of something and have to guess what it is. The game is smart enough to credit you if you get at least one word of the
answer correct. There are tons of games from which to choose, and I came across nothing that required downloading. Also it was not ad heavy like other gaming sites I perused. One downside is that many of the pop culture questions are about older movies and television shows. Some of the answers to quizzes I took, for example, were from the ’70s sitcom All in the Family and the 1984 movie Dune. Despite being slightly dated, I would definitely recommend this site for its wide variety of games and ease of use!
1I 5R 5U J M S
Do not be fooled by its simplicity; this game is surprisingly exciting! The goal is to keep the red block from bumping into either the blue blocks or the walls for as long as possible. It is deceptively easy at first, but the game quickly picks up speed and becomes increasingly difficult.
The PCman Website
Free Video Games Project
1I 5R 5U J M S
If you remember the ’80s, the PCman and Frogger Web sites will be just like the games you played minus the joystick. Our teens, despite the fact that they don’t remember big hair and rainbow shirts, will enjoy hours of entertainment when they discover these “classics.”
THROUGH YA EYES
Eight Letters in Search of a Word
East of the Web
1I 5R 5U J M S
Finally! A good online gaming site that is accessible at my school; the school’s Internet filters do not block East of the Web. This site provides many free intellectual, brain-teasing word games, using technology that makes the games visually pleasing and responsive. The most well-known and popular game is simply named Eight Letters in Search of a Word. The goal is to create words from a selection of eight letters. The more words you find, the more points you earn. Longer words receive more points and advance you to the next level faster. At each level, you are given a time limit to achieve a target number of points. If you fail to reach that target in the time given, the game restarts. If you find it frustrating, another version of the game lets you race against other online players instead of a clock. This game is not only fun, but it also stimulates the mind. It is amazing to see how many words can be created from just eight letters.—Anthony Frederick.
Flyff: Fly for Fun
3I 5R 2U J M S
The game “fly for fun” or “flyff” is a mmorpg (a mass member online role-playing game). The game’s best feature is its fun level; it keeps you hooked and rarely gets old. The thirteen to eighteen age range makes game play neither too old nor too young. This site is a good substitution for the more popular mmorpgs such as Everquest, World of Warcraft, or City of Villains for which you have to pay monthly. The two worst things about the site is that it is difficult to navigate and the information is less than helpful.When you attempt to play, get ready to navigate through a site much like the uncharted lands of the Amazon. Keep in mind that in order to play the game you have to download a small file. Despite its shortcomings, Flyff is a great site. Unlike other similar free online RPGs, the graphics are stunning, and the online community is off the charts (there are lots of players)!—Rob Solka.
United Nations World Food Program
5I 5R 5U J M S
Rarely does one find a Web site as practical, entertaining, and worthwhile as FreeRice.com. Much more than simply a gaming site, this is an awesome humanitarian project. FreeRice allows users to play a vocabulary game that, depending on how literate they are, enables them to donate large quantities of—you guessed it—free rice. FreeRice can be used as an excellent standardized test preparation tool and also as a form of entertainment on a lazy weekend afternoon. And remember that while you are getting ready for that perfect test score, you are also scoring a victory against world hunger. Huzzah! The site gives users a vocabulary word and four possible synonyms from which to choose. For each synonym correctly chosen, the UN World Food Program donates twenty grains of rice to help end world hunger. Although it might sound miniscule, if you play the game for fifteen to twenty minutes and correctly choose forty words, that amounts to eight hundred grains of rice a day, five thousand six hundred grains a week. With your vocabulary skills increasing exponentially every time you play, the total number of correctly chosen words, and thus total amount of rice donated, is likely to increase also.—Matt Cameron.
3I 3R 3U J M S
Runescape is an online role-playing game that is fun to play and has great graphics. It costs five dollars to be a member, but you can play for free and still advance to a very high level without signing up.When you begin you are gaining strength, attack, and defense skills to level up on this game.You can wear armor, and learn about weapons and the value of money. They have strict rules on RuneScape and if you break those rules you will get punished. This means no swearing, no asking for personal information, no real world trading, and so on—those are just a few. There’s also a parent guide that lets parents know exactly what their kids will be doing on the site. I would advise playing this game on a fast-running computer because it can lag without one. A perk to this game is that you will meet tons of new people around the world.—Lynn Mallonee.
TravelPod Traveler IQ
5I 5R 4U J M S
TravelPod’s Traveler IQ game has become a recent hit on Facebook, where more than a million users have played it. In the World Challenge, players face twelve levels of geographical location challenges, receiving points based on proximity of their click to the actual location and the speed of their reaction. The game begins on Level One with simple locations, such as Tokyo and Paris, and then increases in difficulty to Level Twelve, with obscure places such as Bam (in southeastern Iran) and Petropavlovsk-Kamtchatsky (in Russia’s Kamchatska Peninsula). Points are subtracted for every kilometer from the actual location that the player clicks. It is somewhat discouraging, because it is extremely difficult to click exactly on the spot of a city or landmark on a mere nine-inch-wide world map. At the end of the challenge, players see their total score, their “Traveler IQ,” and, for Facebook players, their rank compared to others on the site. Not only is the site fun and entertaining, it is also immensely educational and very helpful for a nation whose people
can rarely find Iraq on a map.—Chuhern Hwang.
KUDOS FOR LIBRARY TEEN SITES
County Teens:What’s up @ Prince Edward County Library?
Although the adults of Prince Edward County Library, Ontario, Canada, have a typical library Web site, this URL is the “official teen blog.” Soft colors with bold graphics make the site visually interesting and easy to read. The staff does a great job updating their blog (always a challenge for many of these library sites). On the day the exciting news was announced that the last book in the Christopher Paolini series would be out in September, it was blogged about here. Their use of the latest technology doesn’t stop with blogging, however; one entry is entitled “Top Ten Ways to Interact with Us on Facebook,” and the staff uses flickr to share
photos, including past entries from their Teen Art Show, pictures of their branches, and Lucas, “the computer dude.” The expected components like recommended Web sites, program listings, and homework help are included as well. County Teensdoes a great job of using a blog for its intended purpose—sharing the most up-to-date information immediately!
[Note on the Kudos section: If you think your library blog, wiki, podcast, or site is worthy of consideration, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Web Surfers and I will surf submissions and choose one to showcase for each column]
Rebecca Purdy is the Youth Services Manager at the Headquarters Library of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library system in Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Web Surfers are a collection of teens willing to volunteer some of their time to see their names in print and help young adult librarians find good sites for their library blogs and Web pages.