Game review by
Mark Raby, Common Sense Media
PowerUp Game Poster Image
Online game teaches players the importance of clean energy.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

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

Positive Messages

This educational game is focused on teaching players about the use of power and importance of alternative forms of energy. It takes place on a planet where natural resources have been used up and the only way to rebuild is to rely on wind turbines, water power plants, and other forms of natural energy. It does this without hammering in any sort of political agenda and instead only reinforces the universal message of what life can become if alternative power methods are not utilized.

Positive Role Models & Representations

As a game that is played largely online, players mainly interact with peers who are playing the same game. This allows for players to work together to search for and rebuild power plants. There is no central figure or character that players can look up to; however, the in-game text and dialogue does a capable job of delivering the message and ensuring players understand the difference between fossil fuels and renewable energy.

Ease of Play

Actual gameplay mechanics take a back seat to the game's story and gameplay. The tasks and objectives are usually treated more like mini-games, e.g. car races and seek-and-find missions, almost all of which can be completed easily. The idea here is not to provide a challenging game experience but rather to offer players a fun and interactive way to understand the different power sources that exist in nature.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that PowerUp is a free, downloadable game that allows players to connect online and work with others to restore power to a world that became desolate after it ran out of fossil fuels. The game is marketed as an educational product and encourages teachers and schools to allow students to play it in class, but kids can also explore it at home. It provides an interactive experience to teach the impact of relying exclusively on expendable resources, and explains how to use natural energy sources to prevent those negative impacts from occurring. Players are tasked with finding fuel sources and exploring the environment, all of which is accompanied by text book-like dialogue about energy efficiency.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's it about?

POWERUP tells players the story of a planet similar to Earth in which the residents, despite at one point trying to develop a renewable energy system, exhausted the entire planet's source of fossil fuels, resulting in a bleak, desolate environment that can only be saved by introducing solar, wind, and water power. Players achieve this by engaging in mini-games and tasks, and interacting with other players to discuss the best way to lay out new cities. It's largely focused on the online aspect, though unlike many online games, PowerUp has restricted chats that block out profanity, and because it is used in educational environments, it's meant to be a learning experience rather than encouraging any sort of trash talk or overly competitive spirit.

Is it any good?

PowerUp is a good educational game. The gameplay mechanics and missions are relatively bland, but the vast amount of information about the history of energy usage is peppered throughout the game to provide a genuine educational message to players in a fun and interactive way. Most "fun" games are not very educational, and most "educational" games are not very fun. It's usually very easy to tell the difference between the two, but this title does a commendable job at trying to deliver a strong, informative message within a game that doesn't feel like an "educational game."

Online interaction: This downloadable game allows players to connect online and interact with others in a non-threatening environment. In fact, according to the information on the game's official website, professional engineers may log on from time to time and engage players about different energy sources and how the game can be used to better understand their impacts on the environment.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how this game brings to life the lessons learned in school. What have you learned in school about the difference between fossil fuels and renewable resources?

  • How does playing online help you better understand the game's message?

  • What do you think would happen to Earth if we didn't invest in renewable energy?

Game details

  • Platforms: Mac, Windows
  • Price: Free
  • Available online? Available online
  • Developer: IBM
  • Release date: February 16, 2009
  • Genre: Educational
  • ESRB rating: NR
  • Last updated: November 11, 2020

Our editors recommend

For kids who love learning while they game

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.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality and learning potential.

Learn how we rate