It seems that you hear about pirates every time you turn around these days, so you shouldn’t be surprised that they’re popping up in kids’ computer games.

However, in the case of "Emerald Island," the Pirats are really rats. And they’re bent on environmental destruction.

The game is an online multi-player adventure — sort of like "World of Warcraft," or the kids’ game "Club Penguin." It’s downloadable for free at The basic game is free to play, but a $5.95 monthly fee opens additional options.

It allows you to create and customize a character who tries to set right the wrongs perpetrated by the greedy Pirats. These scalawags have already stripped seven of the world’s eight islands of their natural resources, leaving only Emerald Island intact. When you’re not cleaning up after the Pirats, you can tend your personal garden, sell your produce, collect items, fix up your abode, befriend different groups of critters, or chat with friends.

"Emerald Island" encourages interaction and teamwork among players. However, it also offers special protection for the younger set. For example, parents have the ability to limit contact with other gamers. Also, common "naughty words" are screened.

"Safety is paramount, and one of the most important aspects is how you manage chat," said Greg Jones, chief executive officer at Fluid Entertainment, which developed the game.

Jones wanted the game to be fun, but also wanted it to teach children about the importance of helping the environment. As a result, the game is packed with real-world facts.

In addition, Fluid has partnered with groups such as Trees for the Future, donating 10 trees to the organization for each new subscription during a recent 30-day period.

Jones calls it "play with a purpose."

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now