Episode -- Choose Your Story

App review by
Mieke VanderBorght, Common Sense Media
Episode -- Choose Your Story App Poster Image
Mature themes, purchases in stories teens read and create.

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 32 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 39 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn about storytelling and programming through the "create" part of this app as they start from scratch to create a story premise, characters, plot, dialogue, and more. If they post their story to the community, they'll get feedback by tracking how many reads their story gets and can engage with other readers and creators through forums and comments sections. 

Ease of Play

Presentation is clear, and kids will easily navigate through the stories and all the different parts the app has to offer. 

Violence

User-submitted stories must adhere to Episode's rules but are not as thoroughly screened. It is possible that violent content could show up in user-submitted stories. There are also some references to threatened violence ("I'm going to beat you up!"), some mild scenes of punching or hitting, and a good amount of relational aggression.

Sex

Nothing gets more visually explicit than some kissing scenes, but there's lots and lots of language about attraction, sex, "hooking up," dating, and more. At least one story with choice of gender for romantic partner. Many plots focus almost exclusively on mature themes, such as looking for a sex partner, or feature characters who seem to think of nothing else. Frequent sexual innuendo in the characters' language, such as, "Didn't he sleep with half the school?" Outfits are often tight and revealing and accentuate the sexual nature of both the female and male body.

Language

Mild swearing such as "hell," "bitch," "d--k," "asshole," "damn," "c--k block," and "s--t."

Consumerism

Characters glorify shopping and refer to brands by name, such as Mercedes. Stories are often interrupted by short app commercials that cannot be skipped. Though kids can advance through the stories without making any purchases, there are aggressive pushes to get users to buy gems and passes, and it feels like you can't make the choices you want to without enough gems, which cost real money. In one story, users are rewarded for leading the main character to promote a fictional brand.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Many stories refer to drinking or feature party culture scenes showing characters (including main characters) drinking or kegs in the background. Characters talk about or are shown being drunk or hungover, including characters that are supposed to be high school students. There are references to and animations showing characters smoking a "joint." In at least one story, there's a reference to not remembering a possible sexual encounter because of being blacked out from drinking beer and vodka.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Episode -- Choose Your Story is a collection of interactive stories written either by the editorial team or by users themselves. Before beginning, users must attest to being 13 years of age or older. Most, if not all, stories either contain references to or are entirely based on dating, romance, and/or sexual behavior and include themes such as underage drinking, rampant materialism, obsession with looks and clothing, lots of sexual innuendo, and plenty of stereotypes (flirty girls, "nerdy Asians," and so on). To advance the story in the way you want, you will need gems, so players are frequently encouraged to purchase gems or tickets, which help them influence the story's direction or continue reading the story without the three-hour delay, respectively. Users can sign up through a Google account to create their own stories and participate in extensive forum discussions, and they can share pictures from the story through their social media accounts or their device's sharing options. The developer's privacy policy and terms of use go into great detail about how personal information is collected and shared.

User Reviews

Parent of a 17 year old Written byLisa A. September 28, 2017

Complete garbage

For this kind of game to be rated as young as 13 given the type of inappropriate material it represents, is unacceptable. When you go to watch an R-rated film,... Continue reading
Parent of a 5, 10, and 15 year old Written byGina D March 9, 2017

Great!

Good stories. Your kids will love!
Teen, 15 years old Written byFruitLoop October 3, 2016

BAD!

This is disgusting
Teen, 13 years old Written byKai_ April 30, 2017

DISGUSTING AND REVOLTING

I HATE THIS. I tried playing because I love choosing my own fate in games, but this is terrible. Nobody should ever make a game like this and it disgusted me th... Continue reading

What's it about?

Readers actively influence story details as they progress through any number of serial stories in EPISODE -- CHOOSE YOUR STORY. Stories are divided into episodes, and kids must spend a ticket to advance to the next one: Two free tickets appear four hours after you open a new episode, or you can buy them. In the stories, kids choose from a multiple-choice list to influence things such as the main character's facial features and outfits, dialogue, and reactions to events or even whether the love interest will be male or female. Sometimes, certain choices cost "gems," which can be earned or bought. The editorial staff creates some stories, but the great majority are user-submitted. Sign in with a Google account to learn how to write, direct, and post your own story.

Is it any good?

This creative forum for interactive digital storytelling loses ground with the superficial, stereotypical, and mature themes that dominate the stories. It gets high marks for its concept, and the clear tutorials help guide the way from creating a compelling story to writing believable dialogue and necessary code to direct the story. There's also a whole fan community and active forum, both of which help kids really get into it and share ideas and experiences. That said, this could be so much better if the focus of these stories wasn't the equivalent of trashy, addictive, soap opera-like romance novels. Almost all the stories center, sometimes exclusively, on clothing and dating/sexual behavior. It's also disappointing how much kids are pushed to purchase items throughout the stories, and frequent app commercials are a major nuisance. So, while this is a well-made app that will appeal to teens and offers some cool creative elements, parents will want to carefully consider the messages the app conveys and set expectations around spending real money.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the way sex, relationships, and body image are depicted in Episode -- Choose Your Story. What about the emphasis on the important of appearance? How does that feel? What do you think about how the characters talk about sex, their sexual interest, characters of the opposite (or same) sex, and sexual behavior? Are there consequences to any of this behavior? Should there be? Why, or why not? Does their behavior feel realistic and appropriate for their age?

  • Talk to your kids about the commercial model of the app. What tactics do the developers use to try to get you to spend money? Is it fair? Why, or why not? How about what happens in the stories? What do you think about many of the characters' obsessions with clothing, shopping, or appearances?

App details

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