New kid on the gaming block is Apex Legends. After amassing a huge following in it’s first weeks, it looks set to give the much loved Fortnite a considerable nudge. In fact in it’s first week, Apex Legends had 25 million downloads compared to Fortnite’s 10 million in it’s first 2 weeks.
So if your video game loving kid hasn’t cottoned on to this new game, it will likely only be a matter of time.
As with all things in the digital world, it does feel like it is becoming increasingly difficult for parents to keep up with each new app or game. And whilst there are some general rules we can follow no matter what game our kids are playing, it is also important that we find out what we can about the games our kids are asking (nagging) us to download, so we can make the most informed decision as to whether it is appropriate for our individual child.
So what should parents know about this new game?
How do you access Apex Legends?
At this stage it is only on PS4, Xbox 1 and PC. It currently doesn’t support cross platform play so your friends need to be on the same platform for you to play together. (ie both on PS4 or both on Xbox 1). This could likely change in the future.
What is Apex Legends?
It is a multi player ‘Battle Royale’ game from the creators of Call of Duty and Titanfall. It is a very fast paced shooter game where 20 squads of 3 player teams are dropped into a map of an island, where they begin a battle to be the ‘last man standing’. Players search for supplies, ammo and explosives to shoot and kill as their playing area continues to shrink.
Is it violent?
The aim of the game is to be the last person standing by killing all the other opponents, so yes that is a violent concept. There is lots of talk about weapons and different guns and ammo, so yes guns by nature are violent. The graphics are not at the level of violence of say a Call of Duty, but they are neither as ‘tame’ or cartoony’ as Fortnite. There is some red blood spatters but usually quick and not a lot. Players can also ‘finish off’ weaker players by stabbing, beating or electrocuting them and this can be seen quite closeup or from the victims perspective. So yes, there is violence.
Is there sex, drugs or swearing?
No sexual references or swearing within the game, but of course that can depend on who you are talking to and the language and conversation that takes place with other players. Certainly when you watch others play on Youtube or Twitch etc there can be plenty of swearing. There are no drug references, except for the syringe that injects ‘health’ into your soldier. I’m not sure of the ingredients of that syringe but if it is deemed ‘healthy’ then one assumes its not illicit drugs.
Will my child become addicted?
Like any game, the rate of obsessive behaviours is very much dependant on the individual child and the boundaries you have in place. The short nature of the games and the premise of being the last man standing, certainly make it hard for kids to regulate their own playing and keeps them wanting ‘just one more’ shot at it. It is for that reason that they certainly need some help in the form of boundaries, game or time limits to keep that under control. But yes, the game creators know which ‘brain buttons’ to push to help keep players online.
Who do you play with?
You play in teams of 3 and these can be players you know or players you don’t know. Like any online game there is always the chance that the person we are playing is not who they say they are and of course we can make contact with ‘strangers’. If you want to play with your friends in a team of 3, you must all be on the same platform (i.e all on PS4), otherwise you will be automatically paired with random players.
How long does it take to play a game?
Usually up to around 20 minutes, but obviously this can depend on how long you survive.
Will they be loud?
Yes…if they are playing in a team with kids they know, they will be letting out the odd scream, shouting orders, warnings, encouragement, strategising and collaborating. This of course can be loud.
Can they chat to other players?
Yes they can chat to team mates and other players, both those they know and those they don’t know. They can use voice and text chat as well as the’ voice to text’ and ‘text to voice’ feature. The chat features can be turned off in the settings. There is also a unique ‘ping’ system that alerts teammates to weapons, enemies, movement and ammo etc
What is Apex Legends classified?
It is rated MA 15+ , so not for the little ones. Commonsense Media recommends 14+ due to the online chat component (which can be turned off) and the violence. The frantic pace may well leave younger inexperienced players struggling to keep up. Many parents who reviewed the game have said they are fine with their 10 years olds playing (and we know many more are playing at much younger ages) but you might want to do your own research before making any decisions and watch a few videos of other players playing first!
How much does Apex Legends cost?
It is free to download. However…..
Could I go broke if my kids get my credit card?
YES! Like many free games with in app purchases, the add ons are where they sting you. In app purchases allow you to buy outfits and other upgrades. One 24 year old player spent $US500 to go through 500 boxes in the hope of getting illusive items. Incidentally he claims he “doesn’t think it was worth it”.
What’s good about Apex Legends?
Well this will largely depend on who you ask, and by the numbers of people playing there is plenty that people are enjoying. But there is definitely the positive aspects of teamwork and collaboration which see players having to work well with each other in order to survive. There is also the social element and the ‘in game’ banter which most people enjoy as well.
If I had to advise between Call of Duty, Fortnite or Apex Legends which would I choose?
Well I would definitely steer clear of Call of Duty if your child is younger. Fortnite is definitely the ‘tamer’ bet here over Apex Legends and this is reflected by the higher age rating. Of course recommending any game very much depends on the individual child, their age and stage of development and the effects that gaming has on them.
Similarities between Fortnite and Apex Legends
Both games drop soldiers/players into a map to try and be the last one standing by killing off everyone else. The social element makes them both popular and this often extends well after the game is finished as many teachers report both games are hotly discussed, dissected and sometimes re-enacted in the playground. Both games are short sharp games that have a definite end. On one hand this makes them easy to have a cut off in terms of how many games they can play, but it is also something many people find difficult, as it becomes increasingly hard to stop playing, particularly when you get closer to being that last man standing.
Differences between Fortnite and Apex Legends
There is no dancing, and no flossing in Apex Legends. As such it may lend itself to a slightly more mature audience. There is no building element in Apex Legends as there is in Fortnite, so there is no creating of fortresses or constructing shelters. The focus is therefore on more of the traditional gun battles and less on the slightly more frivolous antics of Fortnite.
What are some general rules when it comes to kids and gaming?
- Investigate the game yourself to decide whether it works for you, your values and with your child’s development.
- Check the ratings and age recommendations but also watch others play to get a feel for what they will be exposed to
- Keep gaming consoles out of the bedroom (why make it that much harder for them to resist ‘just one quick game’)
- For younger gamers, avoid the use of headphones when they are starting out so you can keep tabs on who they are talking to and what is being said
- Set some limits around the number of games or playing time as these game can be difficult for kids to regulate on their own
- Have the discussions about how long and what they can play at a time when they are not in the middle of a game.
- If you think a game is ok for your child to play, have a game with them. You just might like it and it is easier to make boundaries around something when our kids know that we have some understanding of how they work and why your child loves them.
- Always go to the settings tab to find out the ways you can make the game as safe and positive an experience as possible.
- Remind your child about not sharing any personal information with other players
- Getting kids to do something ‘active’ after playing a game helps them release the stress chemicals that accumulate whilst playing the games.
- Look for the warning signs that they are losing control of their playing. If they stop doing usual activities they once enjoyed, playing sports, seeing friends, etc then these may be red flags. If they stop wanting to come to the table to eat or go to bed at night…..you need to make some changes and help them regain that balance
- Remember you are the parent
Like all things parenting in a digital world, having knowledge about what is out there and what the technology is capable of, allows you to make the best decisions around what is going to be an appropriate and positive experience for your child.