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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
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.
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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.
- Platforms: Mac, Windows
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading, reading comprehension
Social Studies: citizenship, government
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, decision-making, thinking critically
Emotional Development: empathy, perspective taking
Responsibility & Ethics: embracing differences, learning from consequences
- Price: Free
- Pricing structure: Free
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: iCivics.org
- Release date: May 24, 2010
- Genre: Educational
- ESRB rating: NR
For kids who love learning from games
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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.