Operate Now: Hospital

App review by
Erin Brereton, Common Sense Media
Operate Now: Hospital App Poster Image
Prescription for fun in this hospital-management sim.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about entrepreneurship elements such as hiring and training employees, scheduling workers, and other aspects of managing a business. Character dialogue provides reading practice, and kids use basic math to track earned cash and rewards. Some exposure to time management. Surgeries emphasize being able to stay calm under pressure and paying attention to detail. Working toward rewards can help kids learn to achieve goals.

Ease of Play

A to-do list helps players navigate activities and tasks. Characters pop up periodically to provide help, and players can also check how they're doing through visual clues, like an icon that shows what progress they've made during surgery. They can also view a detailed tutorial if they have questions.

Violence

No gratuitous gore, but in some surgery-related images, blood can be a little graphic.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

In-app purchases (from $0.99 to $49.99) include game enhancements like golden hearts, which can be used on new staff members and other items -- or to speed up construction of new hospital departments. Training cards, which help increase staff members' skills, can't be earned; they can only be bought as part of a supply pack.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Players use caffeine/energy drinks to boost character stamina.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Operate Now: Hospital is a management simulation game for iOS and Android devices. Players take on the day-to-day needs of running a hospital and caring for patients while also trying to turn a profit. Blood is shown during surgery, and some of the wounds can be a bit graphic, but they're presented in the context of a medical procedure and don't feel gratuitous. There's no other inappropriate content of note, although it's iffy from a nutritional perspective to promote energy drinks and caffeine as a way to boost character stamina. There's a focus on in-app purchases, with items that can be used to enhance staff members ranging from $0.99 to $49.99; other items to enhance character skills can be bought in supply packs through the in-game store.

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What's it about?

OPERATE NOW: HOSPITAL gives players a chance to manage doctors, nurses, surgeons, paramedics, and auxiliaries in admission, medical, and care departments. You'll hire staff, balance available beds and patients, conduct research, and perform surgeries to earn cash and other rewards. Some of these bonuses include an increased reputation, which helps you advance and build new departments. Players need to match staff members to tasks that relate to their skill set; you'll also have to track worker stamina, which may need to be replenished with food or relaxation.

Is it any good?

While the name of this fun management sim implies that you'll be slicing and dicing your way through surgeries, the focus is actually on running a hospital. But there will still be plenty of operations. And you'll get ample guidance on which tool(s) to use and what steps to take to help people get through their surgery and heal. The app provides lots of encouragement to responsibly plan and execute your taks, and the process involves more thought than just dragging an item somewhere else on the screen. In fact, to get assignments done, you'll need to delegate work among staff members -- and you'll only be able to ask people who haven't already been asked to do something else.

The fact that you restore the staff's stamina via coffee and energy drinks sends an iffy nutritional message. And there are some odd capitalization and grammar errors, like uppercasing "patients" and "cash" in the game text. But for the most part, the experience offers an admirable focus on the work required to run a business and the human elements involved in medicine and managing people. Unlike some simulation games, where in-app earnings go mainly toward avatar gear and other frivolous items, here currency can be spent on things that provide a more tangible effect, such as upgrading a department so that it runs more efficiently. Between the emphasis on caring for others and the choices players make, Operate Now: Hospital takes the simulation game genre to a higher level -- and keeps it interesting through ongoing storylines and a constant stream of new work.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about screen time. It's easy to get sucked into an ongoing experience like Operate Now: Hospital, but how much time should you spend playing instead of doing something away from a screen?

  • Operate Now: Hospital pushes in-app purchases; how do you know if it's worth paying for them? Would you like to see different ways to advance your characters/hospital?

  • Can you think of ways to incorporate fitness and healthy eating into your real-life days?

App details

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For kids who love simulations

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