Artist Colony

Game review by
Christopher Healy, Common Sense Media
Artist Colony Game Poster Image
Fresh artists' lifestyle sim has some suggestive themes.

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A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

The game's overall message is one about the power of art and beauty and how emotions -- positive or negative -- can be channeled into creativity. The game also promotes the idea that one becomes better and more skillful only with long hours of practice and training. Because a love triangle figures heavily into the plot, the game can also send the message that love and relationships can be complicated. There is also a backstory about infidelity.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There are a slew of characters in the game, and as role models, they are a very mixed bag. All are appreciaters of art, beauty, and creativity. But some are a bit obnoxious or pretentious, and one has a drinking problem. Still, there are others who are very earnest and just want to bring beauty into the world. The half-brothers who are the main characters in the game, both long for the same woman, which sparks harsh feelings and harsh words between the two of them.

Ease of Play

Gameplay is simple to learn, thanks to clear tutorials,  and controls are easy to use. Your art colony gets a bit chaotic and  harder to handle by the time you've got 36 artists to monitor at once, but that won't happen until several hours into the game.

Violence
Sex

Characters fall in love with one another and get their hearts broken. One love triangle plays an important role in the plot and is sometimes described in mildly racy terms (e.g., "animal passion"). In one moment of this love triangle plot, one of the men spies his rival taking "provacative photos" of the girl they both desire. A tipsy photographer says things like, "Gimme some sugar."One backstory involves a women having an affair.

Language
Consumerism

The software contains free demos of other games by the same company.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

One character is described as "a drunk" and is depicted as inebriated in multiple scenes, slurring his lines with "hic" in between words. No one is ever seen actually drinking on screen.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Artist Colony is an enjoyable and pleasantly different simulation game which contains some very adult themes, including alcoholism and sexual affairs. The general gameplay -- which involves cleaning and restoring an old art colony, while training artists and having them create new works -- would be fine for kids otherwise, but those soap operatic plotlines need to be taken into consideration.

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What's it about?

Two half-brothers with dysfunctional family ties inherit a rundown art colony, which they plan to renovate in order to attract a new generation of artists. In the game, ART COLONY, players control the brothers and every new artist who comes to live at the colony, making them eat, sleep, clean up, train, create art, and possibly even fall in love. Every piece of artwork that is sold adds more money to the colony's pot, which can go towards further renovation in hopes of attracting more artists. An overarching plot, in which the brothers uncover the hidden history of the art colony, ties it all together.

Is it any good?

Art Colony plays in a very similar way to The Sims, but in this simulation all of the characters are artists (painters, singers, sculptors, dancers, photographers, etc.) and that aspect adds a surprisingly fun twist. Having the specific directive of making sure those characters stay inspired enough to create art feels like a very fresh and different goal for a video game, and it is genuinely fun to see what the works will look like once created -- and how an artist's work will improve with training. There are times when the actions can feel repetitive (especially because yardwork is a constant need in order to keep the colony looking pretty), but that true of most sim-style games. The sometimes sordid subplots, which unfortunately add a level of inappropriateness for younger players, also add some necessary drama to the story.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • In the game, the artists can be inspired by nature, a loved one, or by another's work of art. Families can talk about what inspires them.

  • Families can also discuss the importance of art in general. Art colonies exist in the real world -- why would someone devote their time and energy to such a place in real life?

Game details

  • Platforms: Windows
  • Price: $19.99
  • Available online? Not available online
  • Developer: THQ
  • Release date: December 28, 2009
  • Genre: Simulation
  • ESRB rating: E10+ for Alcohol Reference, Suggestive Themes

For kids who love simulations

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