A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this app.
What parents need to know
What's it about?
LONGSTORY is a choose-your-own-adventure sim that follows the adventures of Sasse, a teen whose family has just moved back to the States after spending a year in France. Sasse's adventures at Weasel Heights include investigating the mystery of Em, a student who left the school abruptly and whom no one seems comfortable talking about. Sasse meets new friends in person and spends time texting with Nora, a homeschooled girl who advises Sasse and acts as a close ally throughout. Gameplay is all about the text: As you encounter different people and situations, you can choose your verbal responses and direct the conversations accordingly. These key decision points can affect everything from how you interact with Sasse's little brother to your date to the school dance.
A core element of the story is its sensitivity to gender identity. When you start the game, you can choose your avatar's name (stay Sasse or type your own), face (one more masculine, the other more feminine), and preferred gender pronoun ("he," "she," or "they"). You can choose to pursue romantic relationships with any of the characters (including the school mascot) or you can play just to navigate relationships with friends.
Is it any good?
This story was clearly developed with great care and sensitivity, addressing real struggles such as learning disabilities, gender identity, and moving to a new school. The story is never trite, and its moments of comic relief -- such as encounters with the silent, muffin-distributing Turkeyhawk school mascot -- are genuinely warm and funny. Plus, Sasse's text-messaging interactions with Nora feel true to life, and it's a nice nod to how teens can feel more comfortable being self-disclosing online than in person. It's frankly terrific that each character ends up being more complex than they first seemed, and there's a lively fan community that keeps the story going on the developer's website and social media.
One jarring element is the role of adults. While the main character's mother is understanding and supportive, the other main adult is a buffoon. Principal "Call me Bob!" Chevy is portrayed as an out-of-touch hippie who's most interested in meditation and trying to seem cool. While it's admirable that he's so understanding with Em's character and asks sensitive, supportive questions, the stronger impression is that he's unhelpful. It would be even better if there were more adults in this story who seemed to be trustworthy, reliable allies for teens; as it is, this element of the story may reinforce some teens' impression that they're on their own.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the story's messages. It's especially interesting and surprising to discover how each character is more complex than they initially appear. Is it difficult to relate to people who are different from you? Why is it important to try? How can diversity make a group stronger?
Parents and teens can also talk about bullying. Have you ever witnessed or been a part of bullying? How does it feel to be on the receiving end? What are some ways you can stand up for yourself or others against this kind of treatment?
Families can talk about sexual orientation, gender identity, and diversity. Why is it important to have apps and games that include all types of people?
- Devices: iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Android
- Skills: Emotional Development: empathy, perspective taking
Communication: friendship building
Collaboration: respecting other viewpoints
Responsibility & Ethics: embracing differences, honoring the community, integrity, learning from consequences, respect for others
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free to try (first episode free, $1.99 each additional episode)
- Release date: April 7, 2016
- Category: Simulation Games
- Topics: Friendship, High School
- Size: 57.30 MB
- Publisher: Bloom Digital
- Version: 5.0.0
- Minimum software requirements: iOS 5.1.1 or later; Android 2.2 and up
- Last updated: July 26, 2016
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.