A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Kerbal Space Program is a space-themed engineering simulation that focuses on creativity as well as trial and error. It allows kids to build and test rocket ships using a highly visual creation tool similar to Spore's creature creator. The ships are crewed by little green astronauts, who do not feature prominently in the game. Many launches end in catastrophe and explosions. Most often the astronauts survive, but sometimes they disappear. Death isn't directly depicted.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's it about?
KERBAL SPACE PROGRAM is like a NASA simulator except it takes place in a fictional star system on the planet Kerbin. Players purchase various rocket parts such as engines and fuel canisters, put them together, and then see if they can get their ships into orbit, to one of Kerbin’s two moons, or even to another planet. The star system closely resembles our solar system, but the planet is populated with cute little green men reminiscent of the minions in Despicable Me.
Is it any good?
This space based simulation will be fun for determined, science-loving kids who can take the time to observe flight read-outs and use the provided controls to tinker with trajectory. They'll learn the fundamentals of rocket science and realistic, modern-day space flight. Though the amount of feedback can be overwhelming, the player community on the game's forums and on YouTube is robust and helpful and provides a rich resource for self-directed learning.
Players can and do provide feedback and feature suggestions. Now that it's finally been released, it sports a career mode with a series of missions, a limited parts-buying budget, and a personnel manager. But players should be aware that the game is a sandbox, meaning that players set their own challenges. What emerges are unique, self-designed experiences that nicely highlight the trials and tribulations of space flight.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this game is designed to encourage trial-and-error problem solving.
Are simulations that are focused on building and creating more or less fun than violent games?
How can you protect your identity and privacy when/if you participate in Kerbal Space Program's online community?
- Platforms: Linux, Mac, Windows
- Subjects: Hobbies: building
Science: momentum, motion, physics
- Skills: Tech Skills: digital creation
Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, hypothesis-testing, prediction, problem solving
Creativity: developing novel solutions, making new creations
Self-Direction: effort, goal-setting, work to achieve goals
Emotional Development: persevering
- Pricing structure: Free to try, Paid ($39.99, free demo)
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Squad
- Release date: June 24, 2011
- Genre: Simulation
- Topics: Space and Aliens
- ESRB rating: NR
- Last updated: November 11, 2020
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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.