It seems any virtual world dedicated to the interests of kids is awash in advertising from companies desperate to snare new customers in the impressionable youth population. Not so with a new educational world, reports the Washington Post:
Wonder Rotunda, the creation of former international trade lawyer Eric
Garfinkel, opened for business online in August.
Parents pay $45 for a
year-long membership, or "park pass" at the site, a two-dimensional
virtual world based in part on some of the Great Falls resident's
earliest memories as a kid growing up in Queens.
Thanks to that subscription fee, the site doesn't have the
advertising that blankets most kid-oriented sites, and there's a
pleasant, old-school look to the thing.
Wonder Rotunda aims to educate kids on a wide range of topics, from healthy eating to American culture. The Rotunda will find some competition in its healthy eating aims – Independence Blue Cross of Philadelphia recently opened a world catering to the same subject. But there's enough traffic to go around – according to the Post article, over 9 million kids visit these worlds every year.
As more families turn to virtual worlds as creative and educational outlets for their kids, the prevalence of advertising is becoming a concern. This is where Wonder Rotunda really makes a break for innovative territory. As a review from CommonSenseMedia.org confirms, the site is completely ad-free, creating an immersive educational experience without hawking products to pint-size future consumers.
This makes a strong case for the educational integrity of the Wonder Rotunda project, and at $45, it costs less for an entire year of membership than a month of some supplementary education programs. That credibility will boost Wonder Rotunda in a field crowded with educational worlds but lacking in quality content.
We will be following Wonder Rotunda as it breaks across the Metaverse with the promise of providing an interactive and engaging educational source for young, internet-savvy avatars-to-be.