Behind this simulation is a robust data engine that uses statistics from over 100 sources, including the United Nations, the World Health Organization, Amnesty International, encyclopedias, and other fact books to present accurate cultural, political, and economic systems. Statistics also drive the presentation of personal attributes, health issues, family issues, schooling, jobs, natural disasters, wars, and more. It is rated "Teen" because, where statistically appropriate, it deals with things like sexually transmitted diseases and brutal crimes including rape. Those aspects can be eliminated in the "Configure Issues" controls.
This software creates a powerful learning opportunity for teens to experience other cultures with empathy. Though gameplay is mostly text-based, it is fascinating. Real Lives 2004 has a 14-day free download, so families can walk a lifetime in someone else's shoes many times over before deciding to buy the software.