Star Trek Online
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Star Trek Online is a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) based on the popular Star Trek franchise. Kids will boldly go where no one has gone before, to explore star systems, examine space anomalies, and fight alien species, with a rather heavy emphasis on the combat. Parents also need to know that this game requires purchasing the software as well as a monthly subscription to play. This also isn't a game that a kid can stop playing, say in the middle of combat to have dinner, without consequences to their character or advancement. The game has open chat that can be filtered.
What's it about?
It is the year 2409. The Khitomer accords have broken down and the Klingons are once again at war with the Federation, and the Borg threatens all other life forms it encounters. Based on the Star Trek TV shows and movies, in STAR TREK ONLINE, a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORG), kids start out as an ensign in Star Fleet. As they rush to the rescue of the USS Khitomer, they find that the Borg has killed all its officers. As the highest ranking officer on board, the player becomes its captain. At completion of the tutorial, kids find themselves promoted to captain and gain a starship. In the captain's chair, kids can "boldly going where no one has gone before," exploring space, investigating space anomalies, rescuing survivors of catastrophes, defending planets and allies, and fighting their enemies. They will also beam down onto planets for ground combat, either with a team of computer-controlled bridge officers or by teaming up with other captains. Kids will also be able to play the Klingon side which is Player-versus-Player (PvP) heavy; eventually, both sides will participate in PvP wars in the far reaches of space.
Is it any good?
Kids with an interest in Star Trek will find Star Trek Online compelling as they are instantly thrown into the action in the tutorial. In space combat, players direct their ships and are also controlling their weapons and shields, directing power to where it needs to go. As captain, players also direct their bridge officers and make use of their skills in engineering, tactics or science. They decide to boost phaser power or use powerful tractor beams to hold their enemies. Viscerally, it feels like you are living in the Star Trek universe. It is fun to command an "Away Team" which in the beginning, is filled up with red-shirt wearing "Security Officers" just like the original Star Trek.
There is a bit of a learning curve as there are two distinctly different combat systems to learn. Players can customize their uniforms and ships, and even determine what their alien race looks like and what skills they have, or you can pick a standard Star Trek race. Graphics and environments are beautifully rendered, and missions and events are accompanied by voice-overs. In key scenes and events, they are acted by Leonard Nimoy of "Spock" fame. Zachary Quinto (the young Spock) guides and lead players through the tutorial and missions as the Emergency Medical Hologram. Sounds of lasers and explosions are realistically rendered in combat that can be frenetic at times and which helps with the sense of immersion. This Star Trek Online game is more about war and similar to the later Voyager series than the exploration of the earlier Original and Next Generation series, but anyone even slightly familiar with the Star Trek franchise will enjoy exploring this game world.
Online interaction: Because the game has open chat and player versus player gameplay, kids may encounter negative experiences, but the game is structured to bring players together in open missions where they will work together to accomplish these missions, providing rewards commensurate with the effort each player puts in. The game also provides a default language filter and tools to report and ignore other players.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about managing computer playing time. How long do you expect to play? If you expect you will need half an hour to one hour to play a mission, then how do you plan your play schedule?
Families can also talk about Player versus Player violence and sportsmanship. If you win a race or a game in school, do you trash-talk or crow over your opponents? Would you do it over the internet?
Families can talk about internet privacy and why kids should not be sharing personal information, account information, or passwords over the net with people they do not know.