A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Draw Joust! is an action game for iOS and Android devices. Kids are thrown into their first Draw Joust! round without much explanation about the rules, techniques, or overall intent that's involved. Rounds can end quickly -- sometimes in a matter of seconds -- leaving you confused about why you lost or won. Although the violence is cartoonish and generally gore-free, the game encourages fighting, potentially until one or both characters is dead. Advertising is present on the screen while kids play, and lengthy, intrusive ads are shown frequently. Some are particularly annoying and require you to take some sort of action, such as shooting a gun, before you can close them and begin the next round.
What's it about?
Kids draw a shape with their finger until their ink supply runs out to create a simple vehicle to fight opponents with in DRAW JOUST! Players may try to push each other off a cliff or crush their opponent and sometimes get weapons, such as a spear or cannon. Those items don't come with specific controls, though, so kids have to try to position their vehicle certain ways to aim and utilize them. Coins they earn randomly in rounds can be used to level up in ink, power, or health of their created vehicles.
Is it any good?
Kids get very little direction when they start playing -- or after, which can make the experience in this game a little confusing. No backstory or context is given to explain why you're fighting or where battles are taking place in Draw Joust!, and the way to earn points and even how to win is unclear. Kids' coin supply rises periodically during rounds, although they aren't told what amount is awarded for what actions. There's also no information about the ink, power, or health power-up options at the bottom of the screen, and spending coins on them doesn't really seem to have much of an effect during the following round.
Because kids have an ink limit and have to stop drawing when they often quickly run out, being able to sketch the vehicle they'll attack in really doesn't offer much of an advantage. Players also can't customize the other game elements, such as their vehicle's wheels, or choose or move their weapon. You can't, for instance, shoot the spear you're holding at someone -- you can only move your vehicle closer to your opponent with it outstretched, which makes a number of weapons cumbersome to use. Each round's winner and loser seems to sometimes be chosen arbitrarily, since you're never told how actions are scored, and the rounds generally don't differ much, making them feel repetitive. Without any way to advance to more challenging levels, kids may not be inspired to keep playing. The constant ads that bombard you, though, are probably the app's biggest detriment. Not only do banner ads appear on the screen during gameplay, commercials also pop up between almost every round, and they often require you to watch for a certain amount of time before you can click to the next screen. Repeatedly enduring them for a few seconds of Draw Joust! gameplay hardly seems worth it. Before long, kids may start to feel like they're spending much more time watching product plugs than actually playing.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about violence in games like Draw Joust!. Is the impact of the violence in Draw Joust! affected by the fact that you're fighting against characters that aren't human or even realistic? Does the impact seem lighter than if you were fighting against other people? If so, why?
What are some non-violent ways you can resolve disagreements? Why do you think this wasn't offered as an option in Draw Joust! to resolve combat?