Skip to main content

Adventure Academy is an MMO for kids that combines learning with fun

Girl playing Adventure Acadamy
Adventure Academy

Educators and parents know that making learning fun is a key factor in retaining the interest of young minds. As an interactive medium, video games occupy a unique space in this constant pursuit. By default, they are perceived as fun, but they can also provide important learning experiences for kids. While most mainstream games, even ubiquitous timesinks like Fortnite, have at least some educational value, Age of Learning’s Adventure Academy falls firmly into the genre of educational games. But this isn’t your ordinary educational game. Adventure Academy is a full-fledged MMO that combines the staples of modern game design with the core curriculum taught in schools today.

School’s in session

Age of Learning may not sound familiar, but chances are you’ve heard of the studio’s earlier work: ABCmouse. Millions of kids from the ages of two to eight have spent time learning with ABCmouse. Adventure Academy picks up where ABCmouse ends, as it’s tailored for kids 8-13. It’s the product of $100 million and three years of work from hundreds of developers and educators.

“I think we have something that’s unique and innovative here, something we don’t think has been done before.”

“I think we have something that’s unique and innovative here, something we don’t think has been done before,” President of Production Alex Galvagni told Digital Trends. “Which is to mix a full-featured modern MMO with all of the sophistication that you would expect in that kind of game with persistence and 3D and multi-platform support with a strong educational curriculum based product with thousands of educational activities that we think make this product a really unique offering.”

Galvagni has previous experience with MMOs, serving as the general manager for Turbine Studios, best known for creating Lord of the Rings Online.

Upon logging in for the first time, players create their own personal avatar, including their own outfit. After that, they’re off to meet the academy’s faculty and begin their journey across the open world. Like all MMOs, Adventure Academy has quests that help guide players to objectives and activities, with little footprints on the ground serving as a navigational system. Since it’s an MMO, players will routinely cross paths with other players on their server. Parents can choose the level of communication allowed, from no chat, to a set of preset messages, to open text chat.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

The “thousands of educational activities” take three to five minutes to complete and span across math, reading, science, social studies, and art. The activities range from mini-games to puzzles to interactive books and more. Some of these activities are found throughout the world as “critical moments” and “adventure stops,” which include their own maps and quest lines. For instance, The Secret Life of Ordinary Things adventure stop lets kids get a deeper and important understanding about objects and concepts they’re likely already familiar with.

Most of the activities can be found at kiosks throughout Adventure Academy’s multiple zones. Kiosk repositories can be sorted by a number of different criteria, including subject, what’s new and popular, and, most importantly, ability levels. The curriculum itself spans first through sixth grade.

Adventure Acadamy
Adventure Academy

Head of Curriculum Joel Kupperstein emphasized that the curriculum team carefully designed the activities to be accessible to all kids within the target audience. “We look at common core standards. We look at next Next Gen science standards. We understand what’s expected for kids in different curriculum areas around the country.” Importantly, the ability levels are strategically designed to offer an inclusive environment that doesn’t discourage players, regardless of their level, so content isn’t specifically labeled for certain grades.

Kupperstein has been with Age of Learning for more than two years. He previously worked as the Director of Product Management for educational publisher McGraw-Hill and spent his early professional days as a teacher in Southern California.

Adventure Acadamy
Adventure Academy

“Kids are pretty discriminating users of content, especially when they’re on their own time,” Kupperstein said. “You want to be really purposeful about what’s going to engage them.” Adventure stops curate content into learning sequences that include a collection of activities to build skills in multiple areas.

Adventure Academy revolves around “giving them the autonomy that kids in that age range really need in order to grow and feel motivated,” Kupperstein said. “And so as we thought about where we wanted to take the next adventure for Age of Learning, we knew we wanted to age-up, and we knew we needed to think differently about the experience we provided for kids in that older age range.”

Education, meet MMO staples

The questing, open world, and character progression system provided the level of freedom and goal-oriented experience Age of Learning was looking for.

“We knew we needed to think differently about the experience we provided for kids in that older age range.”

As players complete quests they earn experience just like in any other MMO. “We have multiple quests per level and as you level up you earn experience and coins,” Executive producer Kevin Beardslee said. Beardslee is a longtime video game development veteran and was one of the original lead developers on World of Warcraft.

Coins can be spent at shops throughout the world, while leveling up unlocks more zones to visit. Avatar items and clothing are graded by rarity as well, keeping in line with the loot staples of modern MMOs. Shops refresh their wares every six hours to ensure that there’s always something new to spend coin on. Certain items, like fishing rods, can be held and are needed to partake in specific activities. These sorts of items can be acquired through quest lines or purchased with coins.

Adventure Acadamy
Adventure Academy

At level six, players unlock the neighborhood and receive their own house. Decorations and modifications can be purchased at stores. “Coming soon right after launch we’ll allow you to decorate the outside of your house in your yard. There are shops for all of these props and things that you can outfit your house with and visit your friends’ houses. We have crafting and harvesting systems. We have player shops, so if you’re out there crafting, you can also sell them to other players,” Beardslee said.

The current max level is 30. Once reached, “honor credit” endgame leveling begins. A special quest to unlock the honor society opens in the endgame where players can buy rare items from the honor shop.

Boy playing Adventure Acadamy
Adventure Academy

All throughout Adventure Academy, MMO features are readily on display, with each educational activity contributing to the progression of their personal avatar. “Most contemporary MMO features we’ve added to Adventure Academy,” Beardslee said. Age of Learning believes the format is ideal for what they’re trying to do.

MMOs are “the perfect experience for kids in that age range to have a learning environment,” Kupperstein said. “We know that kids learn better when they learn socially We know that kids are engaged when they have choices of what they can pursue and study and how they pursue it. An MMO being a boundless world allows us to build out and add indefinitely.”

“I think my favorite thing about this whole game is that kids learn to level up. That’s the way that they grow. I think that speaks to what we’re trying to do with this game. We’re trying to build learning into an experience that is on par with what kids are doing in their own world now in terms of gaming,” Kupperstein said.

"Adventure Academy is the best of both worlds." Kid Testimonial by Adventure Academy

I spent several hours playing Adventure Academy with my eight-year-old daughter and can confirm that the MMO loop offers an enticing reward-based system for learning. The selection of minigames and activities thrive because they are both well-designed and, critically, brief. You never spend more than a handful of minutes on one task, which seemed to help keep her actively engaged. The colorful cartoon world is an inviting place to learn inside and manages to offer freedom while teaching and reinforcing core concepts. It’s obviously very much an educational experience, but it’s surrounded by systems that really do make it fun, too.

Age of Learning is treating Adventure Academy like a live service, with more quests, areas, and activities arriving in the coming months. A “whole new map” is also in development for later this year. Multiplayer activities outside of selling, trading, and communicating aren’t currently available, but dedicated activities for multiple users are in the works. Leaderboards and achievements (badges) are expected to arrive soon.

All future updates will be included with the subscription price. After a 30-day free trial, parents can either pay $60 for a year subscription or $10 monthly. Adventure Academy has zero ads, microtransactions, or any of the monetization features that plague the most popular games on the market today. Adventure Academy is available now on PC and mobile devices.

Steven Petite
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Steven is a writer from Northeast Ohio currently based in Louisiana. He writes about video games and books, and consumes…
GTA 6: release date speculation, trailer, gameplay, and more
Lucia and her partner rob a store in GTA 6.

Believe it or not, it has been over a decade since the last GTA game. While tons of people are still dumping hundreds of hours into GTA Online, everyone has been (not so) patiently waiting for Rockstar to finally confirm that a new entry is in the works. Despite many leaks and rumors, the team held strong until late 2023. Now that the game is finally confirmed, we have a lot more solid ground to cover in terms of what Grand Theft Auto 6 will be. This is going to be the biggest game of the generation, if not all time, so let's hotwire a car and pull off a heist to get all the information about GTA 6 there is.
GTA 6 release date speculation

Along with the official announcement trailer for GTA 6, we got a release window for the game. While it is a little disappointing, we won't be exploring the next open-world phenomenon until sometime in 2025.

Read more
Save $950 off the Alienware x16 gaming laptop with RTX 4080
Screen on the Alienware x16.

You should be prepared to spend some serious cash if you want to buy a powerful gaming laptop like the Alienware x16, but fortunately, there are savings that you can enjoy with your purchase. Dell has slashed the machine's price with a $950 discount, so it's down from $3,450 to $2,500 -- it's still not a budget-friendly device, but it's a reasonable price considering its capabilities. This bargain may not last long though, as gaming laptop deals almost always expire sooner than you think, so you have to proceed with the transaction as soon as possible if you're interested.

Why you should buy the Alienware x16 gaming laptop
Get serious about PC gaming with the Alienware x16, which challenges the performance of the best gaming laptops with its Nvidia GeForce RTX 4080 graphics card, combined with the 13th-generation Intel Core i9 processor and 32GB of RAM that our guide on how much RAM do you need says is the sweet spot for high-end gamers. These specifications will not only let you play the best PC games on their most demanding settings, but also leave you prepared for the upcoming PC games of the next few years.

Read more
This Lenovo Legion gaming PC deal just dropped below $1,000
The Lenovo Legion Tower 5i Gen 8 gaming PC on a white background.

A decent gaming PC usually costs more than $1,000, but you can get one for less than that today by taking advantage of Lenovo's offer for the Lenovo Legion Tower 5 Gen 8. From its original price of $1,500, it's down to a more affordable $994 following a 33% discount. There's no telling how much time is remaining before you miss out on the $506 in savings, so if you're interested in this deal, it's highly recommended that you complete the transaction as fast as you can. Today if possible, because tomorrow may already be too late.

Why you should buy the Lenovo Legion Tower 5 Gen 8 gaming PC
If you want to get into PC gaming for a relatively affordable price, the Lenovo Legion Tower 5 Gen 8 is an excellent choice. It's not the most powerful machine out there, but it will be enough for you to enjoy the best PC games with its AMD Ryzen 7 7700X processor and Nvidia GeForce RTX 3060 graphics card, plus 16GB of RAM that's the best place to start for a gaming PC, according to our guide on how much RAM do you need. It's also equipped with an air cooling system and meshed front vents to keep it cool even after hours of playing.

Read more