Cool School: Where Peace Rules

Game review by
Liz Panarelli, Common Sense Media
Cool School: Where Peace Rules Game Poster Image
Charming game models conflict resolution for young kids.

Parents say

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Kids say

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A lot or a little?

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

Educational value

Kids can learn how to resolve everyday conflicts through peaceful discussion or, if anyone is in physical danger, by asking an adult for help. They will learn to recognize both sides of an argument and how different people can have different perspectives and feelings. Kids also will learn that people can choose how to react to situations, and that these choices have different consequences. In this way, kids see the real-world applications of abstract concepts like fairness and inclusion. They practice making better decisions in situations involving conflict and can see how their choices affect other people.

Positive messages

The overall takeaway is that solving conflicts peacefully is best for everyone. Unless a situation is violent, in which case they should walk away or get help, kids are encouraged to try to talk through the issue and reach an understanding or compromise. The characters often ask each other, "How would you feel if someone did this to you?" Messages about including and respecting everyone in the community are both explicit and implicitly modeled by characters with diverse names and accents.

Positive role models & representations

The player has a team of adults and kids celebrating and reinforcing their positive choices, and the school principal in particular models compassion while still asking that everyone respect the rules. In the scenarios, the characters are realistic; they all sometimes lose their cool, even the adults. With help from the player, though, the characters respond to the conflicts they create by making good choices. The videos model how situations such as "sharing" or "standing up for someone else" translate into the real world, using language and situations that are familiar to kids. The few bullies in the school are clearly designated as such, and they eventually decide to stop being mean.

Ease of play

Kids can begin playing quickly and easily. An introductory section explains how to play with both visual and audio instructions. A help button is included on several screens. Players return to the main menu after each conflict is resolved; although this can get a bit tedious, it helps break the game into digestible segments for young users, and they can select which part of the school to visit for the next scenario. There are 52 scenarios total, and kids need to solve 26 to win. The game is nonlinear, and kids (or parents) can't choose to tackle a specific conflict. Kids can save their progress and return to the game later. 

Violence & scariness

There is some pushing and shoving, as well as general wrestling and tousling. A few characters threaten others into giving up their lunch money, and one character repeatedly trips another with a jump rope. All violent behavior is strongly discouraged, and players help choose more peaceful means to resolve conflict.

Language

Characters occasionally call each other names, but they are appropriately reprimanded for doing so.

Consumerism

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Cool School: Where Peace Rules is a free game created specifically to teach kids how to resolve conflicts and reduce bullying. Players are given a mission to help bring peace to Cool School by helping students resolve their conflicts peacefully. The diverse students at Cool School model both good and bad behaviors and engage players in learning how to make good decisions. It may be a bit too cheesy for older students, but Cool School is a powerful educational tool for young school kids.

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What's it about?

When the students at Cool School need help resolving their conflicts, they turn to you, the player, to help them make good choices. Players are given a mission to bring peace to Cool School by helping students resolve their conflicts peacefully. On their mission, kids watch 26 videos of social stories in which students argue over a common issue, such as cheating on a test or not letting someone join their team. Players hear both sides of the story, then choose from four options about how the characters should respond to resolve the conflict. Then the video continues to show whether that choice improves the situation. If so, the player earns a trophy; if not, the player keeps trying to make the right choice.

As you explore the school, you'll encounter diverse students in familiar conflicts. You'll hear both sides, then decide what the characters should do. To make the right choice, you'll need to consider what's fair, kind, honest, and best for everyone. Just like the characters, it's OK to make mistakes -- you can keep trying until you get it right. By the time you finish, you’ll be a resolution rockstar!

Is it any good?

COOL SCHOOL: WHERE PEACE RULES is a great example of how a video game can be used for educational purposes. Cool School uses video animations to create familiar contexts for learning, models behavior using accessible language, reinforces learning through creative repetition, and engages and empowers kids to practice making good choices. The scenarios are realistic, and the answers are not clear-cut; this encourages kids to explore and learn through trial and error and helps kids develop a toolkit of conflict-resolution techniques for different situations. Anyone can relate to the characters by using objects like books or pencils, and the characters' names, accents, and behaviors celebrate diversity and inclusion.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • The next time a conflict arises at home, try using a technique from Cool School, such as flipping a coin or asking the wrongdoer, "How would you feel if someone did that to you?"

  • As you read books or watch shows, pause when you notice a conflict. Ask your child about the two sides of the story and how he or she would respond. Then, continue to see what happens together! 

  • Cool School's bully is mean because someone once bullied him for being different. When you notice someone being mean, ask your child to imagine what might have happened to that person in the past.

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