Tell 'em Welchbelly sent you

My self-proclaimed status as a raging geek has finally paid off.

Last week Jenny from Big Fish Games emailed me to say she'd heard I was a uber geek gamer (thanks, Sprite's Keeper!) and would I be interested in checking out a new online game they've been working on?

Uh, yeah? I love beta testing video games. They're often buggy and half of the time they end up being crap (cough LordoftheRings cough) but you get to see everything first, and provide feedback before things go live. Because all too often, nobody consults me before they design things. Like those incredibly stupid street layouts in the east end of town.

Anyway. The game, Faunasphere, isn't that far from launch so it's not buggy at all. And it's web-based, which means no downloads so you can play it at the office without anybody busting you for having game software on your laptop, not that that's ever happened to me. And it's totally freaking addictive.

The general premise is that you are a 'caretaker' for fauna, cute little creatures that have survived on a polluted planet. You and your fauna are there to clean it up. You explore, harvest, fight pollution, and you can help build larger 'community' projects. The whole game is very easy to learn, and kid friendly. It has happy messages like saving the environment and helping your community, plus some science lessons. Your kids will be all, "Mom! Did you know you can have recessive genes?" And you can be all, "Ha! I tricked you into learning something!"

(Actually, it may very well be meant for kids. If so, don't tell me, because I'm having fun. And I'd hate to look silly. Except you guys don't have a shred of respect left for me anyway, so I don't know what I'm worried about)

You can also breed your fauna to customize their look. (Don't worry, the game sticks with environmental and scientific lessons, and stays away from potentially teaching your kids about the birds and the bees. The fauna lay eggs. Which actually may make for an interesting conversation when you do have that talk with your children).

You can still get in on the Faunasphere beta if you want to play! Just head over to the website and create an account. Or you could wait until it launches in August, but, waiting is totally overrated.

Maybe I'll see you there. I'll be the one with the floppy ears.