Aspiring wizards, unite! KingsIsle Entertainment’s Wizard101 is not only surviving in this tough gaming climate, but it’s thriving. Alive and well, Wizard101 gives tweens and teens a kid-friendly introduction to MMOs. Sitting comfortably between games geared for much younger children and MMOs that are for strictly an adult audience, Wizard101 gives older kids a chance to play in an online world environment and its popularity is soaring higher than ever expected.

This game now boasts more than 15 million U.S. users alone, not including European players. Because of this, online analytics firm comScore ranked #5 on the list of top gaining large websites (by unique visitors) for the month of August. Also, December alone saw an increase in players of over 300 percent.

“2010 was a great year for KingsIsle and December was our best operational month ever,” said Elie Akilian, Chairman and CEO of KingsIsle Entertainment. “We’ve set ambitious goals for 2011. It should be a very exciting time for us at KingsIsle and for those who play our games.”

I decided to give Wizard101 a try to see if it lives up to its reviews. As an avid MMO player, I was curious to see what made it so appealing. All in all, I was very impressed. The graphics are very realistic. The quests are easy to follow and understand. There’s no death in the game; the wizards are just defeated and transported back to a safety zone for recuperation.

Also, there are some features that make me happy with this game as a parent. For instance, communication via players can be controlled. A younger player can use pre-written sentence combinations to get their message across, or players over thirteen can use the “text chat” feature where they hit enter and type their desired message. Also, players cannot be added to friends’ lists without permission which is another nice way to keep privacy intact. In fact, there were enough safety measures in place where I felt comfortable letting my children give it a try. Though they’re younger than the targeted audience, they too found the game easy to maneuver and enjoyed the playful atmosphere and strange creatures they encountered.

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