Immersive Social Games Bringing Families Together

The big discussion on social games recently is centered around games like Farmville and companies like Zynga, whose recent IPO generated a lot of attention. I see a much more interesting phenomenon taking place where new, cross-generational and immersive social games are bringing families like mine closer together. It’s an interesting phenomenon that goes back to family baseball and Monopoly. KingsIsle Entertainment, developer for the successful Wizard101 game launched Pirate101 this week. This is the second in cross-generational and social game which puts an exclamation point on the growth and value these kinds of games provide to families, including mine.

My Personal Experience

My son, his five cousins, his uncles and I all play KingsIsle’s Wizard101 MMO game. Most times my son plays and initiates a conference call. Sometimes he even uses Skype. Did I mention he was ten years old too? I really enjoy Wizard101’s ability to cater to my needs as well as my son’s. The characters and situations even harken back to 70’s comedies I grew up on. There are typically two levels to the dialogue, one for adults and one for my son. The game is deep, and according to KingsIsle, there are about 30 hours of spoken audio and hundreds of hours of gameplay in the main quest lines alone.

My son talks to me about Wizard101 at least twice a day about new levels, characters, spells, minions, and even new houses and furniture. He is fully vested. It’s even to the point where I pay him his weekly allowance in Wizard101’s virtual currency called crowns. Is my and my son’s story unique and different? Maybe fanatical but not unique when you look at the numbers.

The Country of Wizard101

My son is not alone in his fanaticism for the game. Wizard101 has 25M registered users, which, if it were a country, would be larger than population of Australia or replace Texas as the second largest state in the US. That is a large reach. Frequency is impressive, too with 14M monthly unique visitors to Wizard101. That’s larger than Sony Online Entertainment’s, Nickelodeon’s, and According to KingsIsle, users have racked up 22.3B minutes of gameplay and have acquired 2B items in their quests. Independent research gives us an insight into why the game is so popular.

Trinity University Research Study

Trinity University surveyed 30,000 Wizard101 players last year and came back with some very interesting results. The study hasn’t been officially released, but I wanted to share a few things I thought were most interesting:

  • 60% of responding children play Wizard101 with other family members. One-third of those children play with their parents or grandparents.
  • 68% of responding adults play Wizard101 with other family members. Approximately two-thirds of those adults play with their children or grandchildren.

KingsIsle gets feedback all the time from its players about how families are experiencing the game together. Players tell stories about grandparents playing with their grandchildren, distant relatives playing with each other, Dads playing with their kids on business trips. There are also stories of older gamers finally finding a sense of community they had always longed for. Gaming can be more than just about having fun, it can be about the core of relationships and life

Jedi Lessons at Hogwarts

The research-based fact that kids and adults can enjoy the same kind of entertainment together makes a lot of sense when you think about it. Look at some of the biggest entertainment phenomenons of our time and it starts to gel. Cross-generational movies music and games are big. Look at Star Wars, Harry Potter, and most of the Pixar movies. Kids, adults and families all enjoy and watch these movies together as the content pleases different generations. KingsIsle isn’t done at Wizard101. There’s more.

Second KingsIsle Cross-Gen Game This Week

KingsIsle announced a new cross generational MMO game this week, called Pirate101. It’s all about pirate adventures and while similar in some ways to Wizard101, it’s quite different, too. I got early access to Pirate 101 and played with my son. He took right to the controls and I enjoyed it even more as the combat is more mature and quite frankly I enjoy the better visual effects. OK, I also enjoyed flying pirate ships around space too.

The game is more mature, but not too mature, to keep my son in the game as he gets older. Pirate101 will be a winner in the Moorhead household and I’m sure in the marketplace as it takes the winning Wizard101 formula and adds more mature themes and gameplay.


Social games are huge in numbers right now, but cross generational games that are very social could be even bigger. I have personally seen it, the reach and usage stats show it, and research tells us why this is the case. The new Pirate101 will tell all of us just how big it can actually get. Between now and then, I will continue to pay my son’s allowance with crowns!

Published by

Patrick Moorhead

Patrick Moorhead was ranked the #1 technology industry analyst by Apollo Research for the U.S. and EMEA in May, 2013.. He is President and Principal Analyst of Moor Insights & Strategy, a high tech analyst firm focused on the ecosystem intersections of the phone, tablet, PC, TV, datacenter and cloud. Moorhead departed AMD in 2011 where he served as Corporate Vice President and Corporate Fellow in the strategy group. There, he developed long-term strategies for mobile computing devices and personal computers. In his 11 years at AMD he also led product management, business planning, product marketing, regional marketing, channel marketing, and corporate marketing. Moorhead worked at Compaq Computer Corp. during their run to the #1 market share leader position in personal computers. Moorhead also served as an executive at AltaVista E-commerce during their peak and pioneered cost per click e-commerce models.

106 thoughts on “Immersive Social Games Bringing Families Together”

  1. My family also plays Wizard101 together. There are 5 computers in our house. 3 of them at any given time are playing Wizard101. Our family of wizard gamers include myself, (aka Mom), my youngest daughter, (22 y/o), my second and third sons, (25 & 23 y/o), my husband, my elder daughter, (40ish), a grand-daughter, (19), and a grandson, (age 12). We chat back and forth in the game and keep caught up with each others lives, while helping each others wizards save the Spiral! We are so excited about upcoming Avalon! And my husband is checking out Pirate 101!

  2. My kids and I play together, too. We set my laptop on the desk with the regular computer so we can both help each other pick what to cast. My daughter, who is five, trains the pets.

  3. My daughter saw Wizard 101 on a TV ad a few years ago and begged me to help her sign up. So I did…she was pretty young at the time and I often had to go on and help her with difficult challenges. Pretty soon I found myself sneaking on to Wizard 101 when she was at school. Eventually, I had to start my own account because we both wanted to play at the same time. So we brought up our Wizards together and conquered new worlds. One day my sister in law called me and was trying to get me to play Vampire Wars on Facebook with her. She was frustrated because she couldn’t get enough people in her clan to win anything. So I told her she should try Wizard 101 because you don’t need a clan…you just can get a little help from your friends…and if your friends weren’t playing…you make new friends. So she got on and I walked her through the set up. Within 5 minutes she was totally immersed in the game. Night after night we would all get on and play together. Then another sister in law and a niece started playing. My husband would snicker at all of us losers who were addicted to this video game. So one day my daughter sent him an email invitation to join Wizard 101. Just to humor her, he signed up and created a Wizard. Well…you guessed it, he is now just as addicted to Wizard 101 as the rest of us! It’s a great family game and we continue to play together and start new Wizards as we max out our levels on our original Wizards.

  4. I love Wizard101 and before that I played ToonTown but I was like “Forget this I’m playing Wizard101!” So I hope Pirate101 is just as fun. — K.D.

    1. Same with me! I’ve played Toontown since 2004 and recently got back into my Wizard101!!! I’m never going back to Toontown! Wizard101 has amazing graphics and there are new updates quite frequently! It’s a new adventure everyday and you never can wait to play!

  5. This game has brought me and my grandson closer together, coming home from school and doing his homework just so he can play this game with me. Am grandma 63 and he is 11,

  6. My out-of-state sister, who is a long time video game player, talked me into wizard101 during a Skype call. I am normally not good at video games and was reluctent to play. But, like everyone else, I got hooked. (No video game saavy required.) Now my grandkids play, along with a friend and her young son. Our different households link together with a Skype video call. I have game friends of all ages. Does anyone else have the urge to pick up things on the side of the road now?

    1. i am elizabeth goldstone level 31 i can go to a lot of places i found wizard101 on a pop up add and i’m glad that it came up a lot so i played it and loved it i wanna go to the new world avlon i guess thats what it is i have almost all of zafaria i got celestia some places grizzleheim and kroktopia and all the wizard city streets my mom always gives me crowns if i work around the house i love wizard101 and all my friends on it and plz add me! πŸ˜€

      1. i am reagent fiend myself lol I always look around for every reagent i can spot..even tho I haven’t started making anything yet I am going to start soon!

  7. My son (12) and daughter (5) and I all play together. My son and I spend time discussing various parts of the game, which is a nice way for us to start a converstation about something we both have an interest in.

  8. ok.i sll wizerd01 and thoght it would be weird so i made an account and really liked it and i know am a member and get crowns every mounth it is really fun!!! level 45 ice wizerd i am 12 years old and it is good>3

  9. Wizard101 is such a great family game. I used to play with my older two brothers-And I’m in the process of pursuading my parents.
    My brother and I used to make Wizard101 videos all the time-What fun that was!
    I agree; Wizard101 is the perfect family game. {Even for you who aren’t video game savvies like me!}

    Long live wizard101. =)

  10. I first heard about this game about two years ago from my nine year old daughter. (Now that her mother and I are divorced, we live on opposite sides of the U.S.). I wasn’t interested in the game at first. Then she came back for the summer. First she got my grlfriend hooked and then they both worked on me. Resistance was futile. Once I got started, I became as hooked as they were. Two years later, I find that I am able to keep connected to my daughter through this game. Somtimes we talk on the phone while we play and sometimes we just chat in the game. I teach her about strategy and she teaches me about things like hatching to create new pets. We only play (togeather) about once a week but we talk nightly and most of our conversations include something about Wizard 101. We have alwas been very close but maintaining that closeness would be much more difficult without this shared interest.

    I also share Mr. moorhead’s enjoyment of the layered material. References to the Wizard of Oz and other pop culture that most kids miss, and the face value fun that everyone can enjoy.

    My daughter also lives in a neighborhood devoid of children. She currently has about half of her class at school playing this game. It is her connection to other kids that she knows from school. She has also decided that she wants to start giving Wizzard 101 pets and mounts to her friends as birthday presents. While on the subject of buying on Wizzard 101; I have the parental controles set so that she may not “gift” but I do buy her crowns that she is allowed to spend on herslf as she wishes. She keeps it in mind that, unlike gold, spending crowns is the same as spending real money. She weighs the actual cost in real money against the want of an item and, I think, makes sound decisions. Sometimes she even consults me prior to buying something as to weather I think it is a good value or not.

    In short, I enjoy the game but I love the way it allows my daughter and I to inteact.

  11. I love it i am Chris Hawksword and i am level 23 and I I meet my friends and i am so glad this game was made

  12. wizard101 is so cool i want to play wizard101 for my rest of my life .it has amazing worlds like zafaria,celestia,dragon spyro,grizielhim,peguisis palace,krokotopia,and wizard city

  13. i forgot to say i like wizard101 because i like to hang with my friends= elizabeth goldstone, emily deathhaven, and my other friends that i have in avatar bailey battleblossom

  14. I’m 11 and I am a level 60 wizard and i love the game my sister and I play the game and we both find it very fun. There are those agravating moments when you can’t kill something but you can just ask your friends or make new ownes if your aren’t on. So i guess what i’m trying to say is Wizard101 is awesome!

  15. I must comment now. I keep in touch with my bestest friend zachary dragonhunter, and even though we see each other in person. we dont have memberships because if you suddenly hit a week where everythings due, or its during exams your going to waste alot of it. we do buy crown to get areas, and items when we can. also, there is somthing, or somone very important to me there. my cat pepper died a few months ago and so i bought a tribute pet for her, since the fire cat didnt work, i went to i searched the different gift card pets and travelled to zellers to buy it in memory for her. then i spent a bunch of money to make a cozy living room with a fire place and a cushion, and fish and tuna can and balls of yarn, so she lives a comfortable loved life in a masive fantasy palace, and i go on every day just to say hi to her.

  16. I (age 50 this May) have been playing for about 5 years now.2 years ago, I showed my then 74 year old mother the game. She is more addicted then I. But what the heck, it’s her allowance (she buys every at every crown sale), no different then spending it on a movie etc. Last year, my Grandmother who lives with her joined me at one of my houses for a virtual Birthday Party. We live in 2 different countries. MOST definately the BEST game I have come across since computers came to the individuals.
    SIDE NOTE: the security for children is TOP RATE!

  17. My husband and kids (a boy 9 and a girl 7) Are so in love with this game. I get mad every time that I call them at “dinner time” since their answer is always ” We can’t go now we are in a battle”. Wich makes me feel worse! =( , but besides that I truly enjoy the conversations that my husband has specially with my son.
    They always have something new to talk about it.
    Some how this game helps to get the family together. I have received many many invitations to play with them, and I just keep saying NO thanks!, because I don’t want to be addicted to it, but after all these comments, I guess I will start to play very soon! After all wich mom likes to look “so out” to her kids. =)

  18. My Wife and I play Wizard101. I have a Balance and Death Wizard at level 70 and on Avalon. My Wife has two at level 70 and her cousin also has 2 at level 70. It is allot of fun and I will continue to play as long as I am able.
    See you all in Wizard!

  19. My brothers and I saw Wizard101 on tv. Austin, my brother, said to me, “We have to try that!” So, I went to the Wizard101 site and signed me up for it. I played a little before we went to bed. The next morning he signed himself up for it and he played all day long; as for me I never played again. He asked me and my other brother, Adam, to play with him but we were not interested at that time. About a week went by and Adam finally gave in to Austin nagging him to play lol :-). Adam also fell in love with it; now they play together all the time. Then Adam got my mom to play with him while Austin was sleeping, and she fell in love with it (just try to pry the computer out of her hands lol). They tried to get me to play again, but I was not interested at that time for some weird reason. About 4 months went by, and I know something was wrong with me; I blame it on the aliens who took me to their planet lol:-) So anyway, what got me to play was my mom was playing her storm wiz and my dad needed her to help him with something so she asked me if I would finish the battle she was in; so I controlled her wiz and I casted Triton, omg I fell in love and I wanted to play more. I turned on my laptop and finished my free trial, then told my mom I wanted to play forever, so now we play all together. My mom buys 4 memberships, crowns, alot of pets, and alot of mounts; we are die hard members lol. Thanks for reading my story of how we play as a family God Bless everyone πŸ™‚

    1. can you please add me im andrew shadow heart i dont have alot of frinds im level 41 and death im ussally pvping and in realms Dworgn Bernie And Falmea

    2. Also what level are you im usually in wizard city,moo shu, or grizzelhiem if you could add me thanks also if you can add me can you send me a true friend code on a comment here thanks

      1. Hi Andrew, I would love to play with you on wizard101 but I am so sorry my friend list is full mostly family and real life friends. I would like to make a point though to find you so I can help you with your quests. I have a level 70 life wiz, death 46, fire 39. Thank you for asking and have a great day πŸ™‚ God Bless you and your family :-} i am on usually around 3:00 pm – all hours lol. We can meet in the bazaar in realm sunbird πŸ™‚

          1. I also live in USA CA pacific time πŸ™‚ Yes if you see me a true friend code that means we are friends but so sorry list is full though πŸ™ but if you see me around just say hello. life wiz scarlet dragonfountain, fire wiz cathrine fireheart, and death wiz nora deathhand πŸ™‚

          2. so ur usually in sunbird realm also thats alot of pewople that play in real life that u no

  20. when the game first came out in 2008, my brother showed it to me. at first i didnt like it that much, and this was before the 1 millionth player was introduced, back then everything was so different. but then all of the sudden in 2009, i was bored, and some reason i wanted to play this game again, at this time, everything changed, so much new stuff was added. and i got addicted again. so now i still play, i might not level up as fast as most people, but thats because i take my time playing. and now me and my brother play together, sometimes at the same house. we both love this game so much, that i buy crown cards out of my paycheck.

    if you ever want to find me, i’m ryan Liondust, and am level 63

  21. My 3 children started playing as soon as Wizard101 came out at the ages of 3,9,12. After a few months they had me hooked too, and now at 7,13, and 16 years old they are having as much fun as they did when we started. We have memberships and have bought all the houses, and all have lvl 66 or higher wizards. We also enjoy PvP and except for the youngest do ranked PvP and have warlords. Many of our discussions around the dinner table are about things we are doing in Wizard101. I think my children have learned a lot, had tons of fun, and met some great friends ( I have also).

  22. i fell in love with some1 from this game website lol i know right. its been over a year now i have been playing wizard101and i love this game. OMG on a kids game i met some1 lol, like who would have thought i was the fire noob lvl12 he was lvl 60 death back then and we just clicked. me from the cook islands but im living in new zealand at the mo hes from kentucky usa. we met face to face last year lol cos he came over to new zealand to meet me in person, i know right. so glad we met, and people ask how did you meet? they just wouldnt believe us lol but i am still playing wizard101, i love all the spells i am now lvl 70 in the new world avalon with my fire, storm and death wiz

  23. When i was about 9 i started to play Wizard101, at first when i started out i would beg my dad to play with me every day! so eventually we started to play together and as a relation to this story i always got about 25$ a week for doing weekly chores well now he just gets me 30$ worth of crowns every week and one day i will log on and me and my friend will be talking and i’ll check my char info to see how close i am to to leveling up ( level 51pyromancer at the moment ) and sometimes i will have crowns and it is fun because now me 2 of my uncles, my dad my little sister and my brother are all playing wizard101 now. and i cant wait to see what the new game pirate101 will be like.

  24. i just wanted to say how nice it is to see how much you bring family together i just have one question what happen to the story about kids who love this game and cant stop telling people how great it is and he think the world of ki people and go out of his way to meet you and when he dose he stay and talk and love you that much and he say it was the greatest day of his life and he win your biggest fan contest and he is to get all this great stuff and never get it what you offer him and on top of that you take everything away from him and breaks his heart i know this will never see the light of day but i just wanted someone to know what you did to a great loving happy go lucky kid who has adhd and on top of that this game was great for his disorder and he never could stop talking about the game well now he wishes he never meet you way to go in disconnecting my family i know you will never answer me or you dont care what you did to my son but i have to live with what you have done every day just breaks my heart no one care you like the happy ending but you never hear about the bad ending thank you so much caring mother

  25. the game is beast and also when i am ready that game pirate 101 gonna be easy sense it took me a week to be a level 70.

  26. wizard 101 i love it πŸ™‚ i have play for 2 years now πŸ˜€ i like it i get new friends and its the best ever i really like the game

  27. My daughter and I play Wizard101 every single day. It’s a great way to play something together, that is challenging as well as spurs her educational growth. She’s gotten much better at math (fractions) and reading (chat) as the years have gone by. When we travel and have sporadic internet access, we both miss it terribly. We’ve made great friends on the game, and are grateful to KingsIsle for creating such a broad-access game that so many people love. I can’t wait to try their new game!

  28. I saw wizard101 the day before it came out on t.v. and i said aww what the heck. Well i asked my brother, sister, and 2 cousins to play with me. Look at us now we are obsessed!

  29. i downloaded this without permission one day….. my mom got mad. i saw her at 6:32 A.M as her wizard and she told me i wasnt in trouble…. lol she loves teh game

  30. I am 59 years old and have two daughters. 27 and 29. They talked me into playing and now the three of us play all the time. I love the fun of it and the fantasy aspect and being involved. My daughter handles how many crowns I get as I don’ t have credit card. Wonder why. So every few months I give her the $60.00 and she will get me crowns.

    I even got the palace as a christmas present from my husband.

  31. Haha. I can relate to a lot of the comments that are being made. I had a great network of friends and was completely immersed in the game. All I could think about was getting online to level up, work on quests, and explore. Truly addicting but an amazing masterpiece when you step back and take a look at it.

  32. I started playing first. I saw i Wizard 101 on tv and was totally into games, so I wanted to try it. I enjoyed it for a little while, long enough to get my sister started. She feel head over heels for it. Eventually she got my mom playing. They played for months while I didn’t even think about it. Then my sister begged me to get on and help her with a quest a couple weeks ago. Ever since my sister, my mom, and I have been playing. In fact I need to go now. My sister is asking me to get on. Happy gaming, everyone!!!

  33. i love wizard101 am on lvl 70 my name is jacob i just made a new person a few days ago

  34. i found this game a couple years ago while looking for something different then farmville lol. i fell in love with this game! it brought me thru a very difficult time in my life. i now have all schools transcended and starting avalon. and all of my wizards are also warlords! my son nephew and sister have all gotten into the game also and we play together…so much enjoyment! oh im not a kid and am looking forward to the day i can play with my grandchildren who will both be three this year. one this month and one in sept. yes im a grandmother and a kid didnt show me this game i found it all by myself! also want to say my children gave me grief over this game lol now they are starting to play!

  35. I am 60 years old, my grandson is 6, we play wizard 101 all the time, when ever he comes over I take out the lap top and we have a go at it! He doesn’t read much so I have to help him out, he is level 22 and I’m am level 52, but he understands some of it better than I. I subscribe for the both of us on a monthly basis, but if it continues I’ll buy in totally.

  36. I just recently joined the Navy, and I’ve already lived in San Diego, Pensacola, and Great Lakes while my younger brother goes to school in Montana. We had both signed up for this when we were living in Oklahoma together, and Wizard101 is the biggest way we keep in touch, despite the distances put between us.

  37. Way back when i was in fifth grade or so (i am in 8th now) one of my friends showed it to me and i must say i was hooked. since the time i have accumulated many high level wizards (70, 60, 59, 58, 25 and 5) as well as whats now referred to as 1st Generation gear so it was cool that i was able to start early. I am working a little bit of an online business to earn money to support my crowns need lol. Ultimately i have to say that this game has evolved from a flawed ruby to a flawless gemstone, and its only getting better.

  38. I am an active duty, U.S. Navy sailor, and i absolutely LOVE Wizard101. My wife and my mother-in-law got me hooked on the game just about 14 months ago. Since i am stationed almost 3000 miles away from my wife and son, this game gives us a unique way to keep in touch. My son is only 4, but he often sits in my wifes’ lap when she plays and picks spells for her lol The military life is not an easy one, but with Wizard101, it makes things a bit easier by allowing my family and I to have conversations about all aspects of the game. Quests, battles, pet leveling, crafting, creating new characters, etc. Between my wife, my mom in law, and myself, we have 12 characters, 5 of them transcended and others very close lol Our family loves this game. So, KingsIsle, the Leonard family owes you a debt of gratitude.

  39. One day i was so bored of facebook games. i told my son who is 22 years, that i needed something else to play he showed me how to play world of warcraft i didnt like it too much, a little to hard for me, so i googled free online games and wizard101 came up i downloaded and gave it a try. i absolutly loved it. i work graveyared in a hospital. i tend to play at night. I have been telling my friends at work about the game who like the facebook games. some are checking the game out. I have my son and my nephew on my account. My nephew lives in ILL. I live in kingmon. I have even made me a second account for myself. i use a double mount and play two characters at a time with two computers lol. I cant wait to try out pirates 101.

  40. I played this game just to make sure it was “safe” for one of my children. Now my three sons play it, as do I. I understand this news story because it reflects what has transpired in our household. I have to admit that it is interesting how this unique game unites families. This is one game in which any Dad might be considered cool.

    1. u think this is safe? make a text chat profile and look people trash talking saying 18+ stuff and u say o it turns red not necessrarly but if youlisten and think about what people r really saying like “go have hex with your pet” they can use the word hex because hex is a spell and wen they say hex they mean the 1 with the S

  41. After watching a Popular Wizard movie on TV, I was looking for a game about wizards on the net when I found Wizard 101. That was over a year ago. Both my wife and I play every day and have made a lot of real life friends through the game. We chat to them in-game and even over skype. We both Love the game and interacting with other players. Because we are in Australia we are often on-line while America is asleep so we get to play together alot. The game has brought us closer together and given us both a lot to chat about over our morning coffee. Thanks Kingsisle we are looking forward to Pirate 101 soon.

  42. I am Christo( game name ) and i am INDIA.I got my membership through my sis in california πŸ™‚ i am lvl 27 now and i am playing it with seven ither friends from my city all real life friends.They dont get membership except one i tried and i got them to get all of them a month membership they are all doing same quests we dont play if anyone doesnt come we progress together………………….ADD ME I HAVE ONE MONTH MEMBERSHIP AND I WILL BE DOING MY QUESTS NOW @ MARLEYBONE.


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