PowerUp

Common Sense Media says

Online game teaches players the importance of clean energy.

Age(i)

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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

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

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.

Violence
Not applicable
Sex
Not applicable
Language
Not applicable
Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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.

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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?

QUALITY
 

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.

Families can talk 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:Windows, Mac
Price:$0.00
Available online?Not available online
Developer:IBM
Release date:February 16, 2009
Genre:Educational
ESRB rating:NR for (Mac, Windows)

This review of PowerUp was written by

About our rating system

  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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