Parent Letter

 

Emerald Flame

 

Dear Parents (or Legal Guardians),

Welcome to Furcadia! My name is Emmie Catz (Emerald Flame in-game) and I'm the Executive Producer at Dragon's Eye Productions (DEP), the company that makes Furcadia. I'm also the Mom of two children (mostly grown up now!) who play Furcadia and I have a degree in Education and Child Psychology. Like you are most likely doing now, I discovered Furcadia while checking to see if what my daughter (11 then) was playing online was safe and good for her. You might guess that I fell in love with the "game" and what the very small group that runs it are trying to do.

Furcadia is a non-violent roleplaying and social game that promotes creativity and social skills, all in a world wide community. As there are no "monsters" to fight, we often appeal to females, adults, and younger players rather than just the male teen stereotype for gaming. In the seventeen years I've been playing and working for Furcadia, I've watched many children grow up and go off to college and jobs, many of them studying in fields that are related to skills they first learned in Furcadia. Listed below are some of the skills and fields that they relate to.

  • Computer Science:  We have an easy scripting language called DragonSpeak, which even young ones can learn. They can also make their own bot programs and editors for the game.

  • Game Design: Most players make their own areas called "Dreams", learning design skills. They build maps, learn the use of tools, and use their creativity to find out what people like to play.

  • Graphic Arts and Computer Animation: Drawing and patching your own art into the game is a favorite pass time and our Pixel volunteer program teaches artists how to work for a gaming company.

  • Teaching and Customer Service: The Beekin Volunteer program has over 1,500 volunteers from the community who help others learn how to play the game. They can even work their way up to in the program getting more responsibilities as they go.

  • Leadership and Management: Many players build their own areas (Dreams) in Furcadia. They often run clubs, guilds and businesses in their Dreams, often supervising their own staff and organizing friends to help.

  • Theatre Arts and Music: Furcadia attracts talented people and it's a good environment for them to learn from each other and share their works with others.

  • Languages and culture: Furcadia has members from all over the world which provides an opportunity to learn about each others cultures and languages, hopefully helping to promote world peace and understanding.

Children under 13 are not allowed to play Furcadia without their parent's permission and direct supervision. After reading this letter, the Privacy Policy and User Agreement, it's up to you to decide if the game is right for your child. You must do the character creation with your child and fill out the personal information, such as your child's email address. You will need to provide your name and contact info so we can verify that you are the child's parent. You will also be asked to have a parental password, which should NEVER be shared with your child. Your child will have their own password which allows them to log into the game and which they should never tell anyone. Staff will never ask for passwords. As it says in our Privacy Policy your information is kept confidential, and you can request a copy of all information we've kept about you or your child at any time by filling out a ticket at support.furcadia.com

Furcadia is free to play for most activities. To support the game we do sell sponsorships for a small monthly fee that give you extra perks, and we sell special avatars like dragons, cats, and wings for your characters. Children are not allowed to purchase these and are warned when they go to the webpage where these can be bought. However, if parents wish to help support our work and get an item their child would cherish, they can go to Digo Market to buy. Please do not let your child use your credit card or PayPal account to buy Furcadia products. If you wish to give your child an "allowance" to spend on Furcadia, we suggest that you buy them DragonScales, our game currency. These can be used by them in Furcadia Digo Market instead of real money.

A popular activity in the game is trading Digos (the common term for the game items that cost money). Since children don't always have the best judgment, we have Secure Trade to help them through the process. You, as their parent, can do trading for them, of course, and we do at least recommend you make sure the trades seem right. Many players make Dreams or art in the game that they may want to sell or trade for Digos. While this can be fun, parents should always do these trades for the child and DEP takes no responsibility for trades between players.

While Furcadia provides a rich environment, it is still an online game with live chat between people of all ages and cultures. We have filters for most "bad" words in our public areas; however, we cannot know what someone will say before they say it and your child may "hear" inappropriate things at times. We recommend that parents watch their children under 13 at all times. If your child or you are sensitive about these things, then maybe an online environment like Furcadia isn't a good place for them. We do provide a safety guide directed at children and teens so they know what they should and shouldn't do. Please read this with your child and make sure they understand everything there. I taught my kids how to be safe online and kept open communication with them and they learned a lot and had fun playing on the computer when they were young.

Here are some extra tips in keeping your children from being exposed to objectionable material in Furcadia. Furcadia does have some public areas that are A18+, AO and AOC and we do not allow people under 18 there. These are areas where adults can go to roleplay without children present, and to explore more mature, violent or complicated themes or just to chat about daily things without children present. Signing your child up with a parental password will automatically keep them out of those areas. Other accounts can be kept out of them as well by adding the parental password for Dreams when first creating any account. We only police main maps and players are in charge of their own areas. You will get a message when you enter someone else's Dream in Furcadia as to what Standard it has. The swear filter may not be on in a Dream. Very young children may only want to visit friend's dreams or stay to main maps. In order for your child's Dream to have the swear filter, they can mark it as an E8+ Dream in the editor. One of the Beekin Volunteers in the game can help them with this.

Since we have a large number of teens in Furcadia, including many whose parents don't watch them, we have a certain amount of poor behavior there. We do not log conversations by players as this would be a breach of privacy, nor do we "patrol" the main maps. What we have is a volunteer group called Guardians, who respond to complaints sent in by players and we give players the tools to help themselves. How to use the ignore command and how and when to call a Guardian for help is covered in the Kid Stuff page. As we develop the game more we hope to offer parents the ability to choose more carefully who their children speak with and where they go in Furcadia. If your child does something against our rules they may be temporarily suspended from the game or from one of the main maps. If you have any questions about this you can contact support.furcadia.com for more information on the behavior.

I've mentioned our Beekin Volunteer program several times, but I wanted to explain this a bit more. DEP is a very small independent company with only a few employees and a handful of contractors that run the game and make new content. Our player community is always asking for ways to help, so we instituted the Beekin Helper volunteers. They provide in-game help to their fellow community members in a wide variety of areas. You or your child can get help from a Welcomer when they first start or can get help with any questions about game play or creating your own areas by just saying "help" while in the game and stating what your question is. After your child has played for some time, they too can join the volunteers, but you will need to give special permission for this if they are under 13. This can be a very rewarding experience for them and teach them many social and helping skills.

I know this all is a huge amount of information and much of it may seem foreign to you. You may want to go ahead and try Furcadia yourself to see how things work. You might even find it a lot of fun and something to enjoy doing in your spare time. If you have any questions at all feel free to contact support and our Community Manager, Cironir, or I will be happy to help. You can contact me in the game or by requesting that Cironir forwards your ticket to me.

As we say in the game, Happy Dreaming!

Emerald Kaiten Catz (Emerald Flame)

Executive Producer - Dragon's Eye Productions, Inc.

CEO - Catnip Studios

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