The Bottom Line
Ridemakerz is a free virtual world geared towards boys ages 6-14. Users create and customize their own virtual Ridez that they can race and show off. Each user starts with a basic car that they can customize as they rise in rank and earn in-game cash.
Ridemakerz is fun and creative. There are still some bugs to work out, namely slow loading times and confusing navigation, but I can see this becoming a favorite site for boys, especially as it grows over time.
- Lots of customization options
- Real-world tie-in with minimal pressure to buy
- Interface isn’t always intuitive
- Loading times can be slow
- Designed for boys ages 6-14.
- Those that have purchased real-world Ridez at a Ridemakerz shop can use a virtual version as their avatar.
- Kids can purchase a kit to create a real-world version of their online avatar.
- Users chat with canned phrases such as “Sweet Ride” and “Catch me if you can!”
- Kids earn experience points and in-game currency that allow them to add new customizations to their cars.
Guide Review - Ridemakerz Virtual World for Boys
Ridemakerz.com doesn’t have a lot of games (yet), but the games they have are high quality. My favorite is a Pit Stop game that requires the player to prioritize racing time against essential repairs to their car in order to win a race. I like that it involves an activity that many boys enjoy, but encourages them to think more critically about winning. You can’t just plow through the race without stopping or your car will die. Some of the games, such as the Claw Drop, might be a bit too slow moving for all but the most patient kids.
Although I’m generally not a fan of commercial tie-ins with virtual worlds, the Ridemakerz model has a certain appeal. Kids can earn upgrades in the game and slowly build their dream car. Once they’re happy with it, they can create a wish-list with all of the parts to share with family and friends. Not only do they need to work to build up their income in-game, but parents can encourage them to save for their real-world version. Their custom kit will be shipped in a box and kids can assemble it at home. They learn to budget, save, make decisions about their own priorities, and then get some great hands-on experience at well.
Boys vs. Girls
Although girls are certainly welcome to play, Ridemakerz is obviously geared towards the boys. This is clear when you try to create a female avatar. The body language on the avatar is so obviously male that even with more feminine features and hair styles, it still looks like a boy dressing up. I would like to see an option for a female avatar that actually looks like a girl since there are girls who would really appreciate the car design and building aspect. Since there are so few virtual worlds specifically geared towards boys, it’s hard to complain too much, but it would be a nice feature moving forward.