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From an office in south Logan a group of guys are connecting with millions of kids around the world.

The four-man crew led by 31-year-old Jordan Leary produces the Web site Poptropica.com, a cartoonish virtual world where kids create characters and explore various themed "islands," solve problems, collect items, play games and interact with other players.

In February, 5.3 million unique users from 70 countries visited Poptropica.com - a total of 28.2 million times, according to the Internet traffic tracking firm Quantcast.com. Traffic has run as high as 7.5 million unique visitors in a month since the site launched in September 2007. Currently, Quantcast ranks Poptropica.com as the 306th busiest Web site in the United States.

"It's weird to think millions of people are seeing our work," said Leary. "It's rewarding."

Children's book author Jeff Kinney, who wrote the wildly popular "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" series, conceived Poptropica. The Pearson company, a publisher of educational materials for kids and parent company of the Family Education Network, took up the idea and hired Leary, a West Jordan native and Utah State University graduate, to make it happen. The company wanted Leary to move to Boston but he wasn't interested and they ended up letting him work from Logan.

Leary and his team dream up the narratives and the look of the Poptropica world. They also do the programming and graphic artwork that brings it to life.

Nate Greenwall, an illustrator from Kansas who also graduated from USU, said he doesn't get tired of spending his days immersed in the animated world since he's always creating new "islands" to satisfy the Poptropica faithful.

Fan mail and the reverence of nieces and nephews helps, too.

The site makes money by selling memberships that give users access to special items or lets them play new "islands" before non-members can. Advertising also generates revenue (how much, Leary won't say). The ads in Poptropica, rather than being static boxes along the top or sides of the page, are built into the gameplay.

Because of the connection with the Family Education Network and an established site of theirs called Funbrain.com, Poptropica took off from the start, Leary said.

The site may be a big business with millions of fans, but "for us were just having fun," Leary said, despite the legion of "12-year-old stalkers" who constantly write letters wanting to know when the next "island" will come out and what it will be like.

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