Glitch: There’s a New Game in Town

It’s an exciting week for gaming fans: Glitch has opened to the public!

After months of beta-testing, the whimsical, browser-based MMO has thrown open its doors, welcoming new Glitches–er, users–to join the fun. Several of us GeekMoms and our kids were among the enthusiastic gamers who took part in the beta, exploring the Harvest Moon-meets-Dr. Seuss world of Ur, where cute Muppet-like avatars pet piggies, harvest spice trees, mine sparkly rock, and a whole lot more.

What appeals to me about Glitch as a mom is that it’s a benign world, full of adventure and interest but not blood and gore. My five-year-old can play alongside her tween and teen siblings (not to mention her mom), planting crops, befriending animals, and enjoying the surprises that pop all over the collection of islands that comprise this beautifully rendered fantasy land. Meanwhile, the challenging quests keep older users engaged–and I don’t just mean older kids. Late last night I found myself trotting all over Groddle Heights, gathering ingredients for a recipe, chatting all the while with a high-school friend of mine whose Glitch avatar just happens to live in the next house down from mine in a tree in Borem Summon.

The game can be as social or as solo as you like. When my younger children are playing, I keep the global chat window closed, since there is occasionally raw language there. (For adults, though, it’s a great place to ask questions when you’re stumped.) You can open a one-on-one chat window with a friend, join a group, or just chug along by yourself.

In the course of your questing, you’ll delve deep into mines in search of valuable ores; you’ll traverse scenic vistas, collecting treasures and avoiding the Juju Bandits–comical thieves who remind me of the Hamburgler. You’ll fight rooks, milk butterflies, and curry favor with the local giants. The spirit of the game is goodnatured and cooperative; you get “mood” points for helping out plants and animals and your fellow Glitches. Puns abound, and in a particularly charming twist, achievement badges are linked to prime numbers. Water 11 egg plants (they grow eggs, of course) or complete 23 quests, and up pops a reward.

As with Farmville, Harvest Moon, and other agriculture-based games, a lot of practical math sneaks into game play–my kids always wind up doing complicated profit margin comparisons for the various crops without noticing they’re “doing math.” That’s even more the case with Glitch, where you’re always making donations to the Giants to build up your favor points–donated objects earn favor points in an amount equal to ten percent of their value in “currants,” the–what else–currency of the land of Ur.

I love the time my kids spend together on games like this, planning, exploring, calculating, and laughing their heads off. We can’t wait to see what adventures are in store for our little purple avatar.