Hello. My name is Louise and I am addicted to Smurf Village. Excuse me whilst I go and harvest some Strawberries and Honeydew Melon.
We don't do gaming in our family, despite initial appearances. Honestly we don't. We don't have a Wii, and the most sophisticated games system that we own is a decade old GameCube that we play the odd game of Animal Crossing on with the kids. Which was all well and good until we discovered the Smurf Village app on our iPhone. It is now also on the family iPad.
The plus points are extensive, which is why it is a game I was relaxed about the children (6 and 4 years old) playing. It is educational, in that in order to progress you have to plant crops, which cost fake money, and then harvest them a certain length of time later depending on the crop. When harvested you gain more coins, and Experience Points (XP) progressing you through the level. If you don't harvest at the right time, the crops wither, so you lose your investment in them. The children have become very interested in learning how to tell the time, and are experts at working out which crops they can plant in order for them to be ready at the right time, i.e. not during school, or the middle of the night.
As you progress you get to add special smurf huts to your village than include mini games within the game. Play the mini games to earn more coins and XP. All of which are great for hand eye co-ordination; painting games, hammering games, football games, baking games.
The major disadvantage is that recent updates to the game have changed the layout of the smurf store. Previously the items you could buy, like fences, flowers etc, with the fake coins were separated from the section of items you can buy with smurfberries. Smurfberries are VERY hard to come by. To give you an idea, you get 1 smurfberry for completing a level, but you would need 30, to buy a special Smurffette hut for the Smurf mountain. Typically, you can shortcut the process and buy Smurfberries with ACTUAL money. And by mixing all the 'stuff' you can get in the same store, you are constantly being shown things that you'd need lots of Smurfberries for, basically encouraging you to spend your pennies.
In the pre-app age, we'd buy a game and them play it. Now we play a free game, but if want to progress faster and have more fun stuff in the game we then pay for it.... More than once. It's the modern day price of 'free' stuff. I wonder whether we would have been better off demanding to pay upfront!?
We clearly restrict our children's requests for stuff, and ensure we keep our App Store passwords secret. It's tricky to explain the difference between fake money online, and real money online, but they are starting to understand.
My children are brilliant at this game, but do want to buy items that I consider daft. Kittens, parrots, dressing tables, and other such random items that they place randomly around their village.
In an extreme response I have started my own separate village in competition with my daughters (and hubby's) village, so that I can arrange my huts, and flowers, and fences, nicely! The girls have a more utilitarian approach to the game than I!
The final advantage to the game is that my girls now practise their writing lots by leaving us notes for harvesting items when they have gone to bed. They do usually include 'please' when they point out the fact that they are leaving us a post-it note; just in case you were looking at the note and were concerned about the lack of manners.
I am now off to plant some pear trees, play the diving game, and mine for diamonds. My life is rocking on a Sunday evening! Oh dear. There really is no going back.