Build-a-lot

Common Sense Media says

Accessible building sim both challenging and fun.

Age(i)

2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17

Quality(i)

 

Learning(i)

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Players work towards positive goals by cooperating with local community leaders to create functional and aesthetically pleasing neighborhoods for citizens to live in.

Positive role models

Players interact with mayors and other community leaders, who are upbeat and enthusiastic about new development in their towns.

Ease of play

Build-a-lot is a challenging game, but boasts an excellent tutorial and manageable learning curve that introduces new concepts gradually so that players won't feel overwhelmed.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable
Privacy & safety
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this is a pure building sim and lacks some of the "playing God" features of the SimCity and The Sims games. (For example, here you can't destroy your town with natural disasters or force its inhabitants to become unhappy.) Children will learn about managing cash flow, resources, buying and selling in a way that is challenging but not too complex or overwhelming.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • reading comprehension

Math

  • money

Social Studies

  • citizenship
  • the economy

Hobbies

  • building

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making
  • hypothesis-testing
  • strategy

Self-Direction

  • time management
  • achieving goals

Emotional Development

  • handling stress

Responsibility & Ethics

  • fiscal responsibility

Engagement, Approach, Support

Engagement

Build-a-lot draws kids in with fun gameplay and supportive tutorials, making the niche subject of property management accessible to a wide variety of players.

Learning Approach

Players are encouraged to replay rounds as often as they wish, or can opt for a more relaxing casual mode. Levels become progressively harder, so players always feel challenged.

Support

The game has a great tutorial and provides help throughout. Players can choose their difficulty.

What kids can learn

Subjects

Language & Reading

  • following directions
  • reading comprehension

Math

  • money

Social Studies

  • citizenship
  • the economy

Hobbies

  • building

Skills

Thinking & Reasoning

  • decision-making
  • hypothesis-testing
  • strategy

Self-Direction

  • time management
  • achieving goals

Emotional Development

  • handling stress

Responsibility & Ethics

  • fiscal responsibility

Kids can learn about fiscal responsibility and money as they manage a budget and decide how much to spend on building materials and upgrades while generating rental income. Kids follow directions to fulfill the goals presented at the beginning of each level. They are pushed to complete goals in a certain amount of time, which encourages time management and handling stress. Kids can replay levels as often as they like, allowing them to test out different strategies. Kids learn about money and property management while playing Build-a-lot, a fun simulation game that encourages experimentation.

This Learning Rating review was written by Erin Bell

Parents say

Kids say

What's it about?

Many people might find the world of real estate intimidating, but BUILD-A-LOT makes it seem easy. With a few clicks of the mouse, players will be building, buying, renovating, and selling properties in no time and having a blast doing it.

Players can construct a variety of buildings on vacant lots, from modest one-level ramblers to ostentatious estates, as well as structures like banks, sawmills, museums, and skating rinks. To do so, you'll need the required blueprints, enough workers to do the job, and building materials, all of which cost money. The mayor of each of the eight towns in the game gives players a specific set of goals to complete, like building four Tudor-style homes, earning a rental income of $60,000 per month, or earning a $250,000 cash total. To increase a house's value, it can be upgraded with amenities like hardwood floors, indoor tennis courts, and a wireless intercom system. An upgraded house will yield more rent per month and can also be sold at a higher profit. But beware of property taxes and repairs, which will sap up money and materials. There's also a Casual mode where the goal is to raise a certain amount of money in as short a time as possible.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

The nice thing about Build-a-lot is that players don't have to know a lot about real estate or be skilled number-crunchers, to succeed and have fun. There's a wonderful tutorial, and the game's pacing is just right in terms of introducing new challenges and concepts in a manageable way. Each town presents unique challenges that keep the game fresh until the end. One mayor, for example, is partial to Tudor-style homes, while another wants to attract wealthy retirees by building estates on premium lakefront land. For such a potentially dry subject, Build-a-lot manages to deliver a game that is extremely accessible, as well as challenging.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about what strategies they developed for doing well at the game, and how they had to adapt these strategies to meet different goals. For example, what did you do differently to achieve a high rental income verses building up a large total sum of cash? Do you enjoy simply being able to build structures, or would you prefer a mixture of resource gathering and combat as offered by real-time strategy games like Warcraft and Age of Empires?

Game details

Platforms:Windows
Price:$19.99
Pricing structure:Paid
Available online?Not available online
Developer:MumboJumbo
Genre:Simulation
ESRB rating:E for (Windows)

This review of Build-a-lot was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

Find out more

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 12 years old Written bytiedyegirl April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

a fun game for the pc

Teen, 13 years old Written bytimothyjr January 22, 2009
AGE
17
QUALITY
 
Kid, 10 years old Written bykimtalks November 8, 2009
AGE
8
QUALITY
 

Played It on Cell Phone,Love it

I've played it on my moms phone,it is fun you build houses and other buildings,buy and sell empty lots houses and more,and repair and update houses and more.That was all the cool features in this game

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