What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Vector City Racers is an online racing game that is free to play (subscriptions are optional). The free game subjects the player to 30 second commercials every so often which, curiously, are not targeted at kids. The ads are for things such as car insurance and gaming headsets, but we also witnessed one for Resident Evil The Darkside Chronicles, a M-rated game. The subscription provides a garage that players can decorate, vectorbucks to purchase unique mods for the cars and garage, and a few extra cities for kids to play in. Parents can also choose to donate a small portion of their subscription cost to a few charity choices. Parents have to turn on chat for their kids and kids can only create vehicle names from a pre-filtered drop-down menu.
What's it about?
VECTOR CITY RACERS is an online racing game built on colorful vector graphics. Kids modify their cars by clicking and pulling to stretch and shrink various parts of their vehicle. They can also move around bits and pieces and alter colors. Then it's all about racing. Players scoot around the map collecting flags, stars, and coins, speed up ramps to get airborne to do tricks, and race in time trials or against other players. Completing most of these events will yield "Rollers" which can be used to upgrade vehicles in the ModShops found in each city and open up new cities to explore, where more achievements can be earned.
Is it any good?
Vector City Racers is a browser game with simple and colorful graphics. Targeted at kids, it offers simple, yet effective parental controls. Text chat is open, but filtering is very strict. Naughty words are blocked from other players' screens, as are common names, numbers, states, major cities, and potentially inappropriate phrases.
Kids used to 3-D graphics may find the play unappealing or boring. However, since movement is achieved only by using the arrow keys, it can be challenging for kids to learn to change directions and speed along diagonals. Being a browser based game has its advantages and disadvantages. It's nice that there's no lengthy download or installation of software, but playing the game on an older, less powerful machine with a slower internet connection can be an exercise in frustration, leading players to lose fine control of their vehicles. The sound and music is repetitive as it is the same in every city. The cities do get more challenging as you progress, with narrower ramps, more levels, and more convoluted courses with complex obstacles.
Online interaction: There is little chat in the game as most kids are busy racing. The only time kids typically chat is to ask one another to race. Chat has to be turned on by a parent and is heavily filtered.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the game's minimalistic visual design. What are vector graphics? What makes the cars so simple yet modifiable and scale-able?
Families can also talk about vehicle safety and the physics of speed. What is inertia? Why does it take a while for your car to get up to speed? Why is it harder to maneuver your car the faster you go?
Parents can also address Online Safety and remind kids why they should not give out personal information online.