What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that like most of the games in the same series, Imagine: Gymnast is meant to be a lifestyle sim as well as a sports game. This means that factors such as getting along with teammates are included within the storyline. There are points at which the girls in the game bicker, brag, or express jealousy, but it is all played out in order to teach a greater lesson about friendship, support, and team spirit. Parents should know that there is a greater purpose to it all and that this is not simply a game resorting to reality-TV-type diva drama.
What's it about?
The storyline behind IMAGINE: GYMNAST follows an aspiring athlete who joins a top-level gymnastics team coached by Olympic gold medalist Shannon Miller (a virtual version of whom appears in the game). The five-member team -- all of whom the player can control -- train in the five events (vault, balance beam, uneven bars, floor routine, and rhythmic gymnastics) that they will compete in at a big competition at the end of the story. The player can also dress and accessorize the whole team in leotards of her choosing, and can even design her own team uniforms.
Is it any good?
With a few exceptions, the Imagine series has consistently provided girl games with stellar career and lifestyle sims, and Imagine: Gymnast is another win for the brand. It's storyline has just enough drama -- while never becoming mean-spirited or overly soap-operatic -- to keep kids interested. And the controls are well-designed, allowing for a lot of ad hoc customization during play. The ability to design uniforms is a nice bonus -- a feature the developers had no obligation to put in, but which adds nice levels of creativity and variety. If you want to nitpick, you could point out that rhythmic gymnastics are almost an entirely different sport -- one that is performed by different athletes from traditional gymnasts -- but I'm sure there are few kids in the game's target audience who will be much bothered by that.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about what it takes to be a gymnast in real life. The importance of rigorous training is stressed in this game and its storyline, but the level of training and practice that kids will see in the game pales in comparison to what gymnasts go through in real life. What to young girls (or boys) give up in order to devote their lives to becoming a gymnast? How does this compare to other types of athletes?
The game also allows you to create your own avatar. Parents can ask their children why they created the avatar they did? Do they want their avatar to look like them? Or do they want the chance to play as someone very different from themselves?