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Family Village makes genealogy fun

Playing online games can be fun, but what if you could learn more about your family tree at the same time?

Family Village is a new game you can play on Facebook that might just get you hooked on family history.

Jeff Wells, CEO of Funium, loves tracing his family history and genealogy in his free time. While the stories and family connections he unearths fascinate him, he found it difficult to get other family members interested in his discoveries. He started thinking about a way to engage people of all ages in their own family history that would be fun and innovative. What he came up with is a unique Facebook game called Family Village.

Family tree turns fun

Family Village lets players create a virtual world in a city-building game much like several other games that already exist, but that is where the similarities end. The characters in Family Village are avatars based on the player’s ancestors. You can create multiple villages, build homes, start businesses and even immigrate family members into your community. Even the clothing choices can be matched to the period in which the particular ancestor lived.

What is unique about Family Village is that as you play, you gain access to actual historical family documents such as newspaper articles, census records and other documents. You can download them and share with family members, or share them within the game. The longer you play the more documents you collect and the more interesting your village looks. Family Village also creates an actual family tree, showing the names and the generations of your family members.

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Who’s playing?

“What we’ve found with the game is that the typical player starts out being a woman between 35 and 55 years of age who is family oriented,” says Wells. “What happens is that they begin to share the game with other family members.” Younger kids enjoy setting up the village, buildings and avatars, while older kids who know a bit about history enjoy seeing factual information about their actual ancestors from past periods. The period of engagement with the game at each sitting is about three times longer than the average online game.

“The way people interact these days is so different from when I was a kid,” says Wells. “Kids now are more sedentary, they watch more television and play video games. My thought process was if they are going to be doing that, let’s create something that will build value and have a feel-good aspect to it. That’s what Family Village does.” By creating a game for all ages that is centered on family relationships, Funium has bridged a generation gap in the video game market.

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Sharing a love of genealogy

As for his hobby that turned into a business? “It certainly does give me confidence in terms of my own heritage. Seeing what people have done in the past — what they’ve accomplished, what they’ve sacrificed and what they’ve learned from mistakes they’ve made,” says Wells. “Those kinds of things have helped me a great deal to appreciate just what we have to be thankful for now, and the importance of our family names and family heritage.”

Check out your family tree and play along with Family Village. Who knows what you will find out about your ancestors?

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