A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the video game version of reality TV America's Next Top Model tries to encourage players to be the likable "good girl" character by rewarding positive behaviors, but it also gives kids plenty of chances to act as the archetypal reality show villain -- snarky, self-centered, and downright mean. The game is also, obviously, about a contest that is based on physical beauty. Characters have their looks commented on constantly.
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What's it about?
AMERICA'S NEXT TOP MODEL is based on Tyra Banks's reality show competition of the same name (although you won't find Tyra or anybody else from the show in the game). Ten girls live in a mansion together and compete against one another in modeling-based challenges. They are graded on their hair and makeup, their wardrobe, their phyisical fitness, their runway walk, and their performance at fashion photo shoots. At the end of each week of judging, one of the contestants is eliminated. The last girl standing wins.
Is it any good?
The first thing anyone will wonder when playing America's Next Top Model is: Where is Tyra? Or anybody else associated with the show? And why do they not even speak the name of the show in the game's dialogue? It feels like the TV show's people wanted to disown the game. The game does have a number of flaws. The controls on the runway walking are a little too finicky, the dialogue is too repetitive, and needing to play through every weekday of ten full weeks can make the action grow tedious. Also, this is the type of game in which an avatar creation mode seems almost necessary, but there isn't one. One thing this game does very well, though (for better or worse), is replicate the feeling of being on a reality show. Living with the other contestants, trying to manage your social standing among them, calling loved ones back home, being surprised at all hours by judges with challenges -- that kind of classic reality show stuff is faithfully depicted, warts and all.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the game's many messages, both good and not-so-good. What positive lessons can be learned from the way food and exercise are treated in the game? What negative lessons can come from the focus on physical beauty and the interpersonal conflicts?
Are the girls in America's Next Top Model stereotypes? Do the characters resemble any real people you know? Or are they too over-the-top to be realistic?