By Dennis Abrams
The popular online children’s game site, Poptropica was named one of Time magazine’s top 50 websites of 2011 andcelebrated its fourth birthday this month.
The site, created by, among others, Diary of a Wimpy Kid author Jeff Kinney, allows children to explore an imaginary world divided into islands. Since its launch in 2007, Poptropica has been launched 20 distinct “islands,” ranging from Steamworks Island to Wild West Island to Wimpy Island. The site has attrated over 75 million registered users worldwide; some 10 million kids visit each month.
To celebrate its anniversary, Poptropica — which is administered by the Family Education Network, a division of Pearson — is launching its 21st island — “Mystery Train.” This new island allows players to travel back in time to 1893 and the Chicago World’s Fair, meeting historic figures such as Thomas Edison, Susan B. Anthony, and Mark Twain along the way. (It’s like a much tamer, gamified version of Erik Larson’s bestseller Devil in the White City — which is, of course, published by Pearson’s rival Random House.)
Poptropica’s original goal, says publisher Jess M. Brallier, was to share stories with a generation of kids fluent with digital and gaming literacy. But starting in 2012, those stories are going to also be shared with a generation kids who are old-school literate as well when Penguin begins publishing novelizations of the individual “islands”
“We’ve been thinking of books from Poptropica from the get-go,” said Brallier.
It seems that with such an established fan based, moving into books should be an all-but-guaranteed success.