American kid-centric TV channel Nickelodeon is no stranger to games, but the new virtual world Monkey Quest is pretty ambitious.

Playing games is integral to the Nickelodeon brand. Ever since the days of Double Dare and Legends of the Hidden Temple, game shows have been a staple on the Viacom-owned kids TV network. With the rise of the Internet, Nickelodeon’s website became a hub for casual and kid friendly games that allowed people to interact with the channel’s brands. Then in 2008, Nick bought out the company behind Neopets, a website that allowed kids to have their own pet online that they had to care for. The division was rebranded as Nickelodeon Kids & Family Virtual Worlds Group, and the team recently announced its first big project. Monkey Quest is an MMO where the players inhabit monkey avatars from the mystical land of Ook. It’s currently in the beta phase of development, and Nickelodeon plans to release it in April 2011. The game will operate under the free to play model, with a tiered subscription system and microtransactions to pay the bills.

The extended trailer above shows a lot of promise and the high-production value speaks volumes as to the game’s polish. The trailer feels like it could be advertising a movie of the same title. Of course, no actual gameplay footage is shown, just pre-rendered CGI cinematics, but what is shown seems top-notch. We should learn more about the game at this year’s GDC in San Francisco.

If nothing else, I hope that Monkey Quest is an MMO that doesn’t feel watered down or “for kids.” But if it trains the next generation in MMO mechanics and gets them excited for gaming in general, I’m definitely on board.

Looks like I might have found my unborn child’s first MMO.

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