A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Style Lab: Fashion Design is an easy to use design tool for creative girls. They can use the many varied images available, along with coloring, scaling, resizing, and rotating tools, to put together whatever designs they can imagine. Be aware, though, that the option is offered for kids to upload their designs to the website UbiWorld.com, where they will need to register and which markets other games by the publisher, UbiSoft. The site will also offer to sell children real-world versions of their designs.
What's it about?
Using Photoshop-esque tools, kids with STYLE LAB: FASHION DESIGN can position, rotate, resize, recolor, and layer images to create unique designs that can adorn shirts, hats, and bags. Those apparel items can then be worn by the player's avatar -- or uploaded to the UbiWorld.com website, where real-life versions of the clothes can be purchased for $10–30. There's a bit of actual gameplay to Style Lab: Fashion Design as well -- you'll be given requests by a collection of virtual friends asking for specific types of clothes to make them happy. If you satisfy enough of them, you can compete in design challenges to win gold ribbons.
Is it any good?
Style Lab: Fashion Lab is a great little piece of design software. It may be limited (this is a video game, after all), but it's got all the basic features that kids will someday need to learn if they want to use "grown-up" computer programs like Photoshop. The game element -- with challenges from your virtual friends -- is certainly fun enough, but you can spend hours just being creative and churning out one artistic design after another. The ability to actually buy your designs in real life is very cool. Sure, it's going to be tempting to a lot of kids, and (while not unreasonably priced) those shirts and bags can cost you a bit -- but what girl wouldn't want to parade around in a shirt that she herself designed? If you can convince your kids that it's not something they can do with every one of the hundred or so shirts they make, it can be a pretty neat experience.
Online interaction: The game can connect to the site UbiWorld.com. There, kids can upload their own fashion designs into a gallery for their friends to see -- and they can also purchase real-world versions of the clothing they've designed. They will also, however, be subjected to marketing for other UbiSoft games.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about budgeting. If a child wants to purchase a shirt they've designed, perhaps they can save up the money to do so themselves. The experience can be a helpful lesson in money management.
Parents can also ask their kids about their personal style. Why do they make the designs they do? Is there any meaning behind them? Why do they like certain styles better than others?