Law Craft

Game review by
Marc L., Common Sense Media
Law Craft Game Poster Image
Legislative sim in the iCivics series lacks engagement.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 1 review

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 some basics about the legislative process in the United States, starting with infrastructure: the houses of Congress, checks and balances, and states and their representatives. With some guidance, the game also is good for exploring deeper mechanics, such as two-thirds majority and the veto process, how a bill arises from people's interests, and the basic relationship between laws and amendments. "Values" is introduced as a key obstacle of the game, but it doesn't get the attention it deserves. Law Craft lets kids experience some of the political and legislative process but not in a way that's sticky.

Positive Messages

Civic awareness is central, but positive messages are not the main point.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The game's minimal narrative doesn't lead to presenting role models, good or bad.

Ease of Play

There's a lot of reading to get started, but, after a round, winning becomes easy.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Law Craft is a simulation that takes place in the administrative branches of the United States government and is designed to help kids understand the legistlative process. The game was released by nonprofit organization iCivics, founded by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and designed by Filament Games. Players can register for one of three types of iCivics accounts that do collect a name and email address without verifying age, but this is optional for the game and is used primarily for leaderboards and saving games in progress. As a free, browser-based sim, the price is right, but overall the title doesn't live up to the quality of other iCivics titles.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byC.Lopez November 24, 2014

Law Craft- real feel how and why a law happens.

I have used Law Craft with my 5th Grade class as part of our unit on Forming a New Government. The game play not only allows students to be in control and make... Continue reading

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What's it about?

LAW CRAFT attempts an experiential journey through the legislative process in the United States. Players choose a House of Congress, a political party they'll represent, and a \"personal value\" (such as \"liberty”) that guides their actions (and determines voters' support of a given bill). Players become a representative who fields letters from constituents requesting help to end war, fight homelessness, save the environment, or invest to research deadly disease, for example. Representatives then craft a bill, garnering the support of both citizens and peers to get the majority vote needed to move it forward. The objective is to get bills passed, ideally without having to override the president's veto.

Is it any good?

Contrary to its purpose, Law Craft is about as dull as people think the legislative process really is. For iCivics -- producer of other quality, free sims such as Argument Wars -- it's a weak link. If the purpose of the game is to breathe life into the nuance and complexity of lawmaking, a ripe context for building a strategy game, then its major flaw is in under-designing the mechanics. Compared with dynamic, information-rich game grids and dashboards with which players have lots of consequential choices, such as in other serious sims like Stop Disasters, this one feels more like a dressed-up matching game or quiz, where the only real riddle is solved by checking and unchecking boxes until a bill has enough support to pass. As it is, the game illustrates that most bills are a popularity contest (not in a good way) and that lawmakers can skip the care and attention necessary for creating powerful legislation and move right on to pandering to constituents and colleagues.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Parents and children should take some time to review an actual bill that's of interest. How does the real thing differ from what they see in the game?

  • Talk about the real importance of politics and not just politics-as-usual. How might organized parties of citizens be good for our ability to govern?

  • Play another sim, like Civilization Revolution, as a fun way to learn together about how other nations have governed historically.

Game details

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