A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this game.
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.
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.
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.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.