YOUNG EXPLORERS EXPERIENCE ULTIMATE ONLINE PLAYGROUND WITH NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC ANIMAL JAM

-- National Geographic’s First Virtual Animal World Encourages Kids to Discover Science and Nature, Tapping Vast National Geographic Multimedia Resources --

JAMAA TOWNSHIP, JAMAA (August 3, 2010) /PRNewswire/ — Kids who love pretending to be animals now have their own online animal kingdom filled with fun and adventure as National Geographic and Smart Bomb Interactive launch National Geographic Animal Jamhttp://www.animaljam.com.

A captivating virtual world that gives players the opportunity to transform themselves into their favorite animals, National Geographic Animal Jam encourages kids to celebrate their individuality and unleash their imaginations as they journey through the many lands of Jamaa. Curious “animals” will find a rich world to explore, from the beaches of “Crystal Sands,” to the tree village of the “Sarepia Forest,” and the mysterious ruins of the “Temple of Zios.” As they uncover the secrets of this constantly changing world, players will enjoy games, win trivia challenges, chat with friends and learn about science and nature.

With the launch of National Geographic Animal Jam, National Geographic for the first time is offering content from its extensive multimedia resources as an integrated component of a virtual world for young adventurers and their families. Players can access video features, photos and facts about animals, plants and insects in a game world that encourages them to move from the virtual to the natural world by exploring nature right in their own neighborhood or backyard.

“Since kids are truly explorers at heart, they will love National Geographic Animal Jam,” said herpetologist Dr. Brady Barr, host of National Geographic Channel’s “Dangerous Encounters with Brady Barr.” “What better way to give kids a real-world animal adventure online than to allow them to discover the animal kingdom virtually through play, interactive experiences and engagement with fascinating information about their favorite animal friends?”

“As we set out to develop this virtual world, it was important for us to give kids and their parents the opportunity to combine fun game play, personal discovery and exploration with real-world learning, much like the experiences of our own explorers,” said Paul Levine, executive vice president, Interactive Platforms Group, National Geographic Global Media. “A true example of entertainment with substance, National Geographic Animal Jam marries the creativity of veteran game designers with National Geographic’s award-winning storytelling, media assets and global reach to give kids a sense of self-expression and adventure unlike any other online destination.”

Playing National Geographic Animal Jam is a new experience each time players join in. As they explore Jamaa, they gather and earn Gems, which they can use to personalize their animal avatars and decorate their own animal den. As they progress on their journey, they uncover the story of the animals of Jamaa who themselves are on a quest to discover the origin of the Spirit Stones, artifacts of a past age that give each animal species its unique characteristics. The Phantoms of Jamaa have stolen many of the Spirit Stones, and as a result, the animals’ numbers have dwindled. The animals are helped in their quest to recover the stones by the Shaman Ring of elder animals, who act as player guides. On their journey, players learn the importance of respect for nature and for each other, common themes in National Geographic Animal Jam’s ongoing story.

“It’s all about creating the most genuine and immersive online experience for kids,” said Clark Stacey, co-founder and vice president, Smart Bomb Interactive. “National Geographic Animal Jam appeals to kids’ natural curiosity and offers something they enjoy no matter their age. Whether they want to chat with friends; walk through doors to discover new lands; or explore the National Geographic content to create their own personal library of videos, facts and photos; National Geographic Animal Jam gives them the ability to make that happen and more.”

Players can also create their own content that will appear in the virtual world, including hosting special in-world parties or contributing their own artwork that could be featured in the in-world newspaper, Jamaa Journal. “National Geographic Animal Jam lets kids express themselves as the unique individuals they are,” Stacey added.

Parents can feel confident their kids will be playing and interacting with other kids in a safe, monitored online environment. “For us, player safety and privacy come before anything else,” said Joi Podgorny, director of community engagement, Smart Bomb Interactive. “Great fun can happen only in a safe environment.” According to Podgorny, the virtual world is supervised 24/7 by moderation technology as well as professional moderators who uphold both safety and good conduct in the world.

“And,” Podgorny added, “we have taken that commitment a step further by making a pledge to parents and kids that they will not only have a fun, safe experience enjoying this virtual world, but National Geographic Animal Jam will also be free of the advertising and product promotions that dominate so many other online destinations for kids.”

National Geographic Animal Jam is free for anyone to play. In early September 2010, following a beta-testing phase, players will also be able to sign up for a paid membership to the world. Members will have access to additional content and special features, such as the ability to transform into multiple animal characters as well as experience new lands, games, rewards, bonus Gems, adventures and videos. National Geographic Animal Jam will continue to evolve, adding games, lands and animal characters and enriching a player’s adventure with a constantly growing collection of National Geographic content.

Players who purchase memberships of six months or more will also enjoy the benefits of premiums from National Geographic Publishing as well as discounts on National Geographic’s acclaimed books and magazines.

National Geographic Animal Jam was developed by a collaboration of talents from National Geographic, one of the world’s largest nonprofit scientific and educational organizations, and Smart Bomb Interactive, a fast-growing developer of cutting-edge and age-appropriate video games for kids.

About National Geographic Ventures

National Geographic Ventures (NGV) is a wholly owned, taxable subsidiary of National Geographic Society. Founded in 1888 to “increase and diffuse geographic knowledge,” the National Geographic Society works to inspire people to care about the planet. NGV, part of the editorial group National Geographic Global Media, includes National Geographic Television production and distribution, National Geographic Television International, Digital Media (including Nationalgeographic.com) and National Geographic Interactive Platforms Group, encompassing National Geographic’s mobile, games, interactive publishing and maps business groups. NGV creates and distributes content across multi-platforms and media, providing outlets for the hundreds of scientific and expedition-based grants awarded each year. For more information, go to http://www.nationalgeographic.com.

About Smart Bomb Interactive

Smart Bomb Interactive is a Salt Lake City-based development studio whose mission is to combine talent, tools and fun. Founded in 2003 by video game industry veterans, Smart Bomb Interactive has since grown to include parents, educators, online safety experts and children’s media professionals. The company creates interactive entertainment for families with an emphasis on substance and safety. For more information, go to http://www.smartbombinteractive.com.

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