Project Spark

Game review by
Chad Sapieha, Common Sense Media
Project Spark Game Poster Image

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Terrific game builder lets kids explore their imaginations.

Parents say

Not yet rated

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 2 reviews

A lot or a little?

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

Educational value

Kids can learn a lot about game design and programming in this highly creative build-your-own-game experience. Using tools similar to those employed by professional game makers, players can sculpt and paint environments, create stories and game objectives, and program objects and characters by creating instructions that govern their behavior in an array of situations. Kids will end up learning about how a wide variety of games are made, from action/adventure games to sports games. Project Spark is close enough to real video game design that it gives kids an authentic taste of what a career in game-making might be like. 

Positive messages

Promotes creativity and imagination by allowing players to craft their own worlds and games. Introduces kids to realistic game design and simple programming, encouraging logic, problem solving, and iterative decision-making. Violence plays a role but in a different context than most games, since kids can see the logical rules governing how video game characters "think" and why they do what they do.  

Positive role models & representations

Kids will create their own role models, who can be positive and negative. Players design heroes and villains of both genders and multiple races, controlling their behavior and even writing their dialogue.   

Ease of play

The interface is smart and accessible, but there's a learning curve associated with programming and creation. A tutorial walks players through the basics, but there's a lot it doesn't cover. Kids will need to tinker and experiment for hours, days, and perhaps even weeks or months to figure it all out. 

Violence

Players can create and play a spectrum of games with varying amounts of violence, from puzzles with no combat to action games and shooters in which they fight goblins and humans using melee weapons such as swords or axes, projectile weapons including bows, and magical attacks such as fireballs. The action is decidedly cartoonish, and there's no blood or gore. Attacks result in flashes of light, and defeated enemies simply fall to the ground before vanishing.

Sex

No sexuality included in the starter kit, but players could stumble across non-moderated user-generated content with sexual themes.

Language

No strong language in the starter kit's content, but players may encounter non-moderated user-generated content with inappropriate words written in text bubbles or in the environment itself.

Consumerism

In-game purchases include additional objects and themes players can use in their creations, as well as entirely new adventures. These items can be purchased with real money or by slowly accumulating virtual currency by performing various tasks.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

No drinking or drug references in the starter kit, but it's possible players might discover non-moderated user-generated content that includes such references.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Project Spark provides all the tools kids need to build a virtual world and create the rules that govern it, letting them explore their imaginations while having fun learning about game design and programming. Keep in mind that user-generated content can be unpredictable. The designers have kept the violence relatively tame and included no strong language or references to sexuality, alcohol, or drugs. But some content creators might generate worlds, objects, and dialogue that get around these restrictions in creative ways -- such as sculpting letters into the environment that spell a curse word. Parents worried about what their kids might stumble upon online can change a setting to ensure kids access only developer-moderated content.

User Reviews

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

Kid, 11 years old November 2, 2014

Quite literally sparks your imagination

Project Spark is a really fun but complicated game where you can build your imagination, and quite literally, "spark" it and give it the will to go so...
Kid, 7 years old November 3, 2014

alright

OK No violence just shooting no blood,gory

What's it about?

PROJECT SPARK is less a game and more a user-friendly platform for building your own game. It comes with its own set of pre-built adventures, including a traditional fantasy quest, but the premade games are really meant to showcase what you can do using Project's Spark's powerful game-building tools. Players can sculpt and paint three-dimensional environments; create complex logic governing the behavior of characters and objects; script their own stories filled with drama, motives, and purpose; and even use the Kinect sensor to capture voice dialogue and animations that can be assigned to game characters. Once complete, kids' games can be uploaded for other users to play and "remix." The starter kit comes with a wide variety of game objects and themes for players to use in their creative activities. More are available in the game's marketplace, and these content packs can be purchased either with real money or virtual currency, which is slowly accumulated by completing various tasks within the game.

Is it any good?

Project Spark is a blank canvas for creation. Presented with an empty virtual expanse, players can craft nearly any sort of interactive experience they choose. Virtual Frisbee, pinball tables, run-to-the-right platformers, tower defense games, multilevel action role-playing games -- all of these and more can be made using the game's robust and surprisingly accessible creation tools. It takes a while to master more complex tools, such as programming the "brains" of characters and objects to make them do what you need them to do, but it's all done using an accessible logic language that simply asks what a thing should do when another thing happens. All it takes is a little patience and a good idea to create something well worth sharing with the rest of the game's community.

Admittedly, it's a bit rough around the edges in places. The Crossroads mode, which lets players shape a lightly preprogrammed adventure as they play it -- crashes occasionally. Plus, it would've been nice if the developers provided a few more themes and object packs in the starter kit rather than forcing players to earn or buy new ones. But kids who get into this deeply imaginative and rewarding digital creation experience likely will spend enough time playing to be able to purchase plenty of extra content without resorting to spending any real money. Kids with any interest in learning how games are made and how to make games themselves really can't go wrong with Project Spark.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about online safety. How do you deal with inappropriate user-generated content: by reporting it or ignoring it? What are the likely outcomes of each action?

  • Discuss creativity in games such as Project Spark. Do you prefer playing games made by other players in Project Spark or making and sharing your own? What's appealing about being creative? How is creativity in video games different from creativity in more traditional arts, such as painting, writing, or composing?

Game details

Themes & Topics

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