A Sailor's Life for Me

Game review by
Mark Raby, Common Sense Media
A Sailor's Life for Me Game Poster Image
Informative history title is more text than game.

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational Value

Kids can learn about the history of the USS Constitution, and what life was like in America hundreds of years ago. There are also facts about the history of the US Navy. This game was established by the USS Constitution Museum and its primary purpose is to teach kids about that ship and its importance in American history. A Sailor's Life for Me is full of War of 1812 history, but its gameplay is rather bland.

Positive Messages

Players are taught that being a sailor is a highly noble and respected profession. They learn about the bravery and selflessness that is involved in this altruistic job and are consistently presented with encouraging messages as they progress through the various tasks and missions throughout the game.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The entire theme of the game is to present sailors as role models. Players constantly read messages about the history and lives of sailors, and how it is their duty to put the safety of the country ahead of all else. While there is little in the way of specific character development, the message of positive role models comes across with great strength.

Ease of Play

It's impossible to fail in this game. If players click on the wrong option on the screen, the game will simply wait until they select the correct option. In addition, if at any time the mini-games are too complicated, players can elect to skip them. The mini-games are all very basic in nature and require simple navigation and puzzle-solving skills. This game is more focused on providing an engaging learning experience than it is about offering challenging gameplay.

Violence & Scariness

There are mini-games in which players shoot cannons at enemy ships, but the depiction is highly minimized in that enemy ships simply disappear and there is never any focus on the loss of human life. In addition, it's very clear that violence is never advocated, but only tolerated when necessary to ensure safety for everyone else.

Language
Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that A Sailor's Life for Me is a game designed as an online extension to the resources available from the USS Constitution Museum. It is best described as an interactive museum exhibit, with players learning about everything from the parts of a ship to the daily trials and tribulations that sailors faced two hundred years ago and continue to face today. The game itself takes place on the USS Constitution, so the material focuses on American history during the War of 1812. Gameplay revolves around pointing to different objects on the screen and completing a variety of mini-games.

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What's it about?

A SAILOR'S LIFE FOR ME takes players back to the War of 1812 and teaches them about what it was like to live as a sailor on the USS Constitution. Players are given encyclopedic descriptions of everything from the preparations that took place to go into battle, to the sleeping conditions of the hundreds of sailors that embarked on the journey. Along the way, players hear various accounts from in-game characters as well as through text descriptions presented on the screen. Players complete a series of mini-games to advance the story.

Is it any good?

A Sailor's Life for Me is admittedly not designed to be a captivating video game experience. It is more of an online educational resource with information about the USS Constitution and the quality of life in early 19th century America. As a game, it fails to truly captivate players. Players often have to click on various rooms within the ship, which comes across as more tedious than anything else, and the mini-games are largely uninspired. Players can elect to skip the mini-games if they get bored. All that being said, the educational information presented about the USS Constitution and the War of 1812 is written in a very accessible and interesting tone. If the gameplay elements are not solid enough to capture the attention of players, the educational content might be, and having an interactive element, however rudimentary, does help with the flow of content.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about learning from games. Do you like playing history games?

  • What do you think has changed for sailors between 1812 and today?

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