A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is the online version of a real-world fantasy trading card game called Chaotic, found at www.chaoticgame.com. Players can begin playing by downloading a free starter deck, after which they can purchase additional cards in stores that can be uploaded to their profile online (a booster pack consisting of five packages costs $19.99). There is plenty of cross-promotion between the real and virtual versions of the game; the card packages advertise the web site and the online game provides links to brick and mortar stores that carry booster packs. Visuals are essentially limited to the still pictures found on the cards. Consequently, there is no real violence, sexuality (save a few scantily clad characters pictured on cards), or bad language. However, Chaotic is fundamentally an online game. Common Sense Media does not recommend online play for children under 12.
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What's it about?
CHAOTIC is the online version of a fantasy card trading game similar to the popular collectible card game Magic: The Gathering. It involves imaginary battles governed by creature, attack, and location cards, as well as a very complex set of rules that dictate how the myriad numbers printed on each card affect battles. The online game is directly linked with its real-world counterpart by virtue of its capacity to transform physical cards into electronic cards once a unique code printed on each card is entered. However, you can start playing for free online by downloading a 35-card starter, or \"apprentice,\" deck. At the time of our review, Chaotic was still in open beta mode, which is basically a geeky way of saying: \"Glitches are present; play at your own risk.\" Happily, we didn't notice any bugs.
Like most card trading games, Chaotic has a byzantine rule set that can only be fully understood through hours of practice. The online tutorial, which explains each of the game's card types and leads new players through a few rounds of play, takes nearly half an hour to click through, but it is essential viewing for anyone new to this sort of game. That said, those who opt to play the game online rather than in the real world will be able to get the hang of things more easily. The computer guides players through each phase of every turn and crunches all of the game's many numbers automatically. Indeed, you could conceivably play a game with no training simply by following on-screen cues and playing random attack cards -- and perhaps even win, if luck was on your side. Of course, the appeal of most trading card games is in learning and understanding the intricacies of their rules and figuring out how to exploit them to your advantage.
Is it any good?
While playing a card game face-to-face with a friend is typically more engaging than playing against a stranger over the Internet, the technical advantages of playing online shouldn't be discounted. Aside from making the game more accessible, Chaotic's online component offers live leader boards, allows players to trade cards with others, and provides a comprehensive glossary of available cards, which can help with formulating tactics and act as a means of identifying cards you may want for your own deck. Of course, the problem with online play -- especially when it comes to children -- is that there is always the potential to wind up in a game texting with an online bully, hooligan, or predator. Fortunately, the Chaotic game site has plenty of advice for both parents and children that counsels ways to ensure a safe online experience. Still, Common Sense Media doesn't recommend online play for children under age 12.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the difference between playing card games in person and online. Online games allow you to play whenever you like, even if a friend isn't available. Plus, they simplify the game by leading players through turns and automatically calculating numbers. On the other hand, playing face-to-face with a friend has the appeal of direct socialization, and allows players to modify rules to suit specific situations. Which do you prefer? Do you find text chatting online to be as socially satisfying as speaking with a friend across the table? Or is online play simply a backup; a means to play when none of your friends are available to join you?
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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.