The babes felt ultra special to be among the beta testers for Airside Andy, a brand new app for kids that launched officially in February this year. Based off a CGI animation series in the works, Airside Andy is the world’s first kids MMO (massively multiplayer online) game that’s designed exclusively for mobiles and tablets.
The game takes you behind the scenes of a busy airport, run by Andy and his assistant Tilly. Kids create their own avatars and enter an exciting 3D virtual world filled with control towers, vending machines and roaming vehicles. They can watch planes landing and taking off, interact with other players, and earn coins and points for tasks like baggage handling and cleaning litter off the runway.
Ezra and Jed have been exploring the app since December and they were instantly blown away by the game’s rich, multi-sensory interface and stunning graphics.
Ezra: ‘Wow, this is sick. Look there are so many zones and stuff. Oh check out the telescope, awesome.’
Jed: ‘Ezra, let me have a go!’
Ezra: ‘So you can have conversations? And play games with other players? Maybe we could play hide and seek!’
Mum: ‘Go to bed.’
My first thoughts about Airside Andy was that I wanted some kind of instruction sheet to show me what to do — but that’s just me. I’m old school. The boys were perfectly happy figuring stuff out as they went along.
And in fact the open-ended style of play has turned out to be one of the things that I love most about the game. Sure, there are some challenge-based tasks (baggage tossing to earn points is especially popular) but mostly the boys enjoy moving (or Moonwalking) from zone to zone, making their own fun. And there are some cool superpower upgrades… like a gravity defying costume… and one that makes you fly!
It fascinates me how my 10-year-old — whose other favourite game involves a character named Pea Shooter blasting zombies with peas (Plants vs Zombies) — can spend hours in the innocuous Airside Andy world (although you might run into the odd zombie at the airport!). You really have to use your imagination to get the best out of this app and in many ways I prefer this to the more ‘instant gratification’ games like Fifa 16 and Subway Surf.
Social and Safe
Airside Andy is particularly clever at integrating SEL (social and emotional learning) and STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) elements through a game that’s creatively stimulating and constantly evolving.
One thing that I worried about at first was the idea of my kids chatting to strangers online. But Airside Andy handles this smartly using pre-set phrases that allow safe and friendly interactions, and parents have full control of accounts to ensure that no personal information is shared at any point. Read more about Airside Andy’s commitment to safety.
The boys love being able to greet fellow players and help each other complete tasks… although Ezra seems to spend most of his time trying to impress with his avatar’s dance moves!
Airside Andy is a brilliant app to take on overseas trips as kids can learn more about what’s happening at the airport and feel like they’re right in the centre of the action. In fact, the creators of Airside Andy have partnered with Swissport at Newcastle and Manchester airport lounges (more to come) providing Play Pods where children can try the app and other games on child-friendly tablets.
There are loads of exciting features planned for Airside Andy over the coming months, and children can also use their earned ‘airport points’ to vote on new content. Pretty cool, as Ezra would say.
Collaboration with Airside Andy and Mothers & Shakers