A good game for a good cause.

We all know that games are played to escape reality. You load up your favorite game and become some other character. Why be yourself for a few hours when you can be Mario, Sonic, a sports icon or even some guy with a gun? You run around, do your thing, have some fun and then, poof! You're yourself again. What if you could start up a game, play around and influence what happens in the real world? Enter Good Egg Studios and their game, Elf Island.

Elf Island: www.elfisland.com

Elf Island was developed in 2007 on the basis of creating a virtual world where kids come to chat and hang out and also to do something good with their experience. Elf Island is the first game to link up events that happen in-game with events that happen in the real world. Let me explain.

In the game, you create a little elf that becomes your avatar. You can dress your elf, move it into a house and even furnish said house. There's a chat system in Elf Island which allows your kids to meet other kids around the world and talk with them in real time. The chat system is not as controlled as some of the safer games I've reviewed, but it's not all that bad either. The main focus of Elf Island is its link to the real world which has been named Mirrored Gaming.

Good Egg Studios works hand in hand with many worldwide nonprofit organizations to educate kids about issues in today's world, such as sharks being hunted by poachers. What they've done is set up missions known as Good Quests to help you deal with the problems in the game. With the shark poaching missions, you take control of a shark and navigate through a maze to locate the poachers and report them to the authorities.

When the community has completed a certain number of missions in the game, Good Egg Studios allocates funds to the nonprofit organization in the real world to stop shark poachers in the Galapagos Islands. In addition to helping causes by community participation, the game also provides children with background information about the places they are helping, details about the animals they are saving, and other real world facts. The game is designed well and the controls are easy enough to use, but I recommend it for ages 10 and up just for the knowledge factor.

Elf Island is already set up to help the Galapagos Islands and soon children will be able to help polar bears with Polar Bear International and plant trees in Nepal with Wild Aid's Plant It 2020.. All in all, the game is an amazing experience and worth trying, especially for the good it does in the real world. So let your kids have fun and make a better world at the same time.