CJ's Closet™/Clubhouse™ is both a safe game and a safe online
community for children. The game is CJ's Closet™ and the online
portion is called CJ's Clubhouse™. Dreamed up by Kay Productions
LLC, CJ's is their attempt to bring high quality family oriented
games and a safe Internet site for kids. Huzzah! Did they do good?
Let's find out.
My children played the demo some weeks ago and now they've had
a chance to play with the full version (actually a beta version,
but essentially it's the full deal). I have two kids in the targeted
age group: a daughter and a son. Actually, my son is a bit too old
and my daughter hits the upper age range for the CD. However, they
did give me some great feedback and helped me better see from a
kid's eyes what CJ's Closet™ offers.
The CD offers a range of activities, games and stories oriented
to children and specifically meant to be safe for anyone to play.
You won't find any violence or blood on this CD. While this definitely
limits the overall appeal of the product, that's the point. CJ's
Closet™ fills a need for something that's of high quality and yet
doesn't require you to blow someone/something to pieces. Good, safe,
family oriented fun and stories with biblical themes; That's what
they set out to do and from the reactions of my children, they achieved
makes CJ's even better is that there really isn't anything on the
Christian market like it. While there are others in the works, CJ's
will be the first out. Veggie Tales you'd think would have done
something by now, but I've yet to see anything from them. There
are plenty of secular games out there oriented to kids but really
there's nothing of this caliber in the Christian market. The people
behind Kay Productions LLC saw this need and made an excellent
attempt to fill in the gap.
CD consists of a series of activities, puzzles and stories. The
Demo has one story, one game and two puzzles. The full CD has ten
stories and approximately 40 games and puzzles. Unfortunately, there
are only two games. The puzzles are jigsaw puzzles, sliding puzzles
or word puzzles. They are all done well and the two games are fun.
But if there was one area where CJ's Clubhouse is lacking, it's
in how many games they offer. The screen shots below are all from
the full CD. Only the water balloon game is from the demo.
Demo story was about forgiveness but it was clear that besides teaching
a moral, the story contained several teaching elements. As you read
through the story, you run into some problems that require you to
pick a solution. For instance, you are confronted by a stream and
must choose the best way get across. The right answer moves the
story along. None of the puzzles are overly hard but they do require
a bit of thinking to figure out which answer makes sense.
full CD has in four categories: Jungle Safari, Ourter Space, Underwater
and Wild West. Each set of stories is themed off the category and
teaches something while having the reader make choices or do some
kind of activity. For instance, during one story, you have to lasso
three horses. You might have to answer a Bible question or you might
be able to click on the screen and get information about how the
Wild West pioneers created different products. The stories cover
a wide range and is the strongest part of CJ's Closet™.
two games were a balloon toss "shooting gallery" and a
butterfly hunt game. In the balloon toss game, you throw water balloons
at cutout figures that move across the screen. The butterfly hunt
had you catching butterflies of a specific color.
activities on the CD are all well done and smoothly animated. There
wasn't anything truly innovative or different from anything else
I've seen. However, they are all quite appropriate for Children
and well done. But is there enough content and activities to keep
Children occupied for more than a few hours. Read on if you want
Is It Worth It?
a minor diatribe. My biggest disappointment with children's games
in the past is how little time my children actually spend using
them. At first, they play them with a great deal of interest but
by the end of the second week the CD goes unused. That's because
replay value is always limited. How many times can your kids watch
the same story or put together the same puzzle?
children went through every story, every activity and game on the
CD in a few days. They'd already played with the Demo and their
age group was at the upper limit for the CD. They enjoyed themselves
but they were left wanting more.
in mind that the real target audience for this game is the preschool
and lower elementary aged children. If my kids enjoyed CJ's, those
age groups should enjoy it even more. I'd also expect that the younger
children would spend more time playing with the CD and enjoy going
through the stories more often. Young children enjoy repeating familiar
things. Compared to other Children's CDs on the market, CJ's offers
Closet™ has enough content to be well worth the price of $24.95.
However, how much total enjoyment your child will receive from the
game will depend on how young they are.
A Few Additional
Thoughts...OK it's a Little Rant
interactive and "choose your own adventure" approach to
story telling on the computer has a great deal of promise. CJ's
does what is expected of a Children's story. I'd personally like
to see some more innovation in this area. After checking out the
other stories on the full CD, there is a wide variety of ways they
have children interact with the story. But being the kind of guy
I am, I still wanted more. But what I say below is a general comment
about all the children's games on the market today and not a specific
criticism of CJ's.
all the things on the CJ's CD, I kept wanting the stories to be
more interactive, more involved. I.E.. Instead of a linear story
where you click on the "turn the page" button, it'd be
more interesting to me to have the story unfold depending on the
interaction the child would have with the screen. For instance,
why not have the story unfold as the child clicks on the screen?
Depending on where they click, the story could unfold in many different
directions. The child would have to explore a world rather than
click through a series of screens. It'd keep them coming back for
more because they might discover something new.
probably asking for too much here and it's possibly not the right
approach for children (after all, this isn't my area of expertise),
but the possibilities and promise for greater interaction keeps
me wanting more and I think the limited replay value of such interactive
stories is proof that we need to see more innovation here. There's
nothing wrong with the way CJ's Closet™ approaches doing their stories.
And what I'm suggesting might be too confusing for children of the
age CJ's is directed toward...maybe...but I suspect it's not if
Clubhouse™ (Not just for kids)
is the part of the CD that initially grabbed my attention. This,
I think has great possibilities for enhancing the value of the CD.
The Clubhouse is a "safe" online website. I put "safe"
in quotes, not because there's anything unsafe about CJ's Clubhouse™
but because the Internet is unsafe in the same way that any public
setting is unsafe. And no matter how safe CJ's Clubhouse is, it's
still the Internet where your kid can wander anywhere they want.
say this to encourage parents to monitor what their kids are involved
with online even if they are only going to the Clubhouse. To me
that's just common sense.
encourage my kids to be online. It is one of the greatest and best
learning tools ever devised. My kids are better readers, better
typists, more creative, better educated and more in tune with technology
because of the Internet. However, there's a dark side to the Internet.
You can't shield your kids completely from the dark side but I see
it like anything in life. It's an opportunity to teach my kids right
and wrong. And if they don't learn it and they choose to do the
wrong things on the Internet. then they lose that privilege.
a big proponent of being online. I think Christians should have
a huge presence on the web and CJ's is a great example of doing
something that promises to be of high quality and provide a safe
place for kids to enjoy and yet benefit from this fantastic tool.
CJ's is a relative safe island on the Internet. and as such is a
great opportunity to provide your kids with many of the benefits
of being online and help make the risks manageable from a parent's
perspective. My daughter was very interested in this section.
Parents and Teens
Yep, they have a place for parents and teens. Parents and teens
can even keep their daily planner online here. It looks like they
are trying to make this a comprehensive website that will appeal
to everyone. I'm not sure how teens will like the idea of hanging
out in a place called CJ's Clubhouse™. As of this writing, it's still
very much under construction.
The entire website is under construction and won't be in full swing
for some months. They are working hard to get the CD out and once
that is done, they have plans to get a Christmas music CD done and
a 30 minute children's video out the door. So, currently the only
aspect of CJ's is quite limited. But if this interests you or your
children, you should check out the website regularly to see how
it's coming along.
CJ's Closet™ is a high quality, reasonably priced, content filled CD that's
well worth their asking price. In fact, this looks to be the bargain
of the season. You might want to grab a copy of it quick before
they come to their senses and raise the price.
you are looking for a quality game CD for your child that's both
nonviolent and biblically themed, CJ's Closet™ is just the ticket.
game is slated to sell for $24.95 which is a good price considering
that most new children's games sell for no less than $30 (for a
lot less content).
content filled game.
Can someone say, "We wanted more, more, more?".
let your kids go through the CD in one sitting. Try to pace them
definite buy if you have children/grandchildren in the right age
and early elementary.
Sense (CS): 4.0
- Nothing especially innovative, but they do a good job overall
presenting biblical themes and morals.
- Does the job. This is probably the biggest limiting factor for
the game designers.
- For Preschoolers, this is good stuff.