Is it Worth Your Allowance: Papers, Please

Is it Worth Your Allowance? Is a weekly column written by 14 year old Nate. Nate reviews inexpensive games and lets your geeklings know if it’s worth spending their hard earned allowance on. Have a game to suggest? You can email Nate here.  My parental perspective appears at the end of the article.

Papers, Please

Genre: Indie

Cost: $9.99

Developer: 3909


If you’re interested in buying this game go to this link


Papers, Please is a game where you play as a customs agent for Arstotzka. Your goal is to check peoples papers and get through the day making sure that the information they give you is correct ;matching photo id to peoples faces, passports and, more. If someone gives you false or invalid information you have to send them away. This game requires a lot of focus because you have to check every detail: age, gender, photo, and as the game goes on things like tickets and documents. While also paying attention to every thing you are also on a time limit and you have to get as many people into or away from Arstotzka as fast as possible while making as few mistakes as possible, but don’t worry you can make 3 mistakes before you lose. The game has a 16-bit art style with a very dark color palette (most of the colors in the game are dark like grey and navy blue). After each day you are paid based on the amount of people you properly deal with.  When you get your money you must use it to pay rent feed your family and more kinda like the Oregon Trail. I like this game a lot and I really suggest it to people who like puzzle and or story games but I’m very bad at having to focus on all the things at once and i prefer more actiony type games, but don’t get me wrong this is a very good game.


Overall,  my final rating for this game is 6.5/10 and I think it’s worth your allowance.

Mom’s notes: Papers please is a pretty simple game.  It’s rudimentary graphics and it’s style of game play remind me a lot of the early computer games I used play as kid, but a bit darker.  There are some adult themes in the game, at one point you have a woman who claims a pimp has brought her against her will, but it’s pretty mild.  I actually love that this game stresses attention to detail – that’s really the gist of the whole thing. At points your work surface gets cluttered, you have to use executive function skills to keep your information organized.  It’s almost like brain-training for those of us with ADD.   As the game progresses you have to make decisions with money as well.  The more mistakes you make the less you get paid, and the end of each level has a Lemonade Stand-esque feature where you have to decide how to spend your salary.  It’s a bit more bleak than sugar or lemons, you need to decided who gets to eat and if you can turn the heat on, but it’s interesting to see the decisions Nate made.  This is appropriate and a good buy for ages 14+

Can I Bring my 5 Year Old to Pixar’s Inside Out? A Parent’s Guide.

Can I Bring my 5 Year Old to Pixar’s Inside Out? A Parent’s Guide.

Pixar’s newest offering, Inside Out arrives in theaters today.  It’s a Pixar film, so you know it’s going to be good and you know you can take your kids. But (like its Pixar predecessors) it is fraught with emotion (that’s kinda the whole point), tension and peril.  So, as a parent, what should you be aware of before taking your kids to see Inside Out?


Based in Headquarters, the control center inside 11-year-old Riley’s mind, five Emotions are hard at work, led by lighthearted optimist Joy (voice of Amy Poehler), whose mission is to make sure Riley stays happy. Fear (voice of Bill Hader) heads up safety, Anger (voice of Lewis Black) ensures all is fair and Disgust (voice of Mindy Kaling) prevents Riley from getting poisoned—both physically and socially. Sadness (voice of Phyllis Smith) isn’t exactly sure what her role is, and frankly, neither is anyone else. When Riley’s family relocates to a scary new city, the Emotions are on the job, eager to help guide her through the difficult transition. But when Joy and Sadness are inadvertently swept into the far reaches of Riley’s mind— taking some of her core memories with them—Fear, Anger and Disgust are left reluctantly in charge. Joy and Sadness must venture through unfamiliar places—Long Term Memory, Imagination Land, Abstract Thought and Dream Productions—in a desperate effort to get back to Headquarters, and Riley.

Inside Out is really original.  The way the film handle the abstract concepts of feelings, consciousness and memory is pretty novel, but may be harder for younger viewers to understand.  Riley’s parents constantly ask her to be their “happy girl” though she is understandably feeling big emotions about moving away from her friends and hobbies.  It’s worth discussing with your kids the kind of pressure those expectations put on Riley, and how it’s resolved.  As the parent of a kid (Nate) who tends to be bit more morose (and as former pubescent girl myself) I really loved the way Sadness was represented as a confused being who didn’t know why she existed and how she eventually figured out that she was needed. Inside Out could be an excellent conversation starter for kids around Kit’s age (8/2nd grade) as they are just starting to feel some more subtle emotions like jealousy, loyalty and frustration, while still not quite understanding the purpose of those emotions or how to express them.

There are a few moments that might make me think twice about bringing the youngest kids.  Some of the characters fall into a deep, dark pit with memories that are going to fade (Small but important to read spoiler here for families with emotionally sensitive kids: one of the characters fades away – sacrifices their self -in this pit).  Riley runs away from home which causes the audience a lot of tension.  Riley’s fears are shown including a dead rat and a giant clown, which may freak kids out.

From a scientific standpoint it’s clear that the production team has done their homework on the psychology of feelings.  It’s a good, kid-friendly introduction to complex concepts like feelings and memories, but it’s no way scientifically accurate in representing how those things work in a real, neurological sense (as cool as it would be to have an actual Train of Thought…)

All told it’s a fantastic, positive story.  It’s charming, perfectly cast (Of course Lewis Black is anger!) and has enough moments of humor to balance out the tears. Parents will definitely want to bring some tissues.  While Kit  teared up a few times, I was an unapologetic, sobbing mess at least twice.  The movie was developed when director Pete Docter’s teenage daughter was starting to experience some of the same big feelings Riley is, and the movie is definitely written from a parent’s point of view.  It’s tender and touching…and it will probably make you cry.

So, “Can I bring my 5 year old to Inside Out”? I’d say yes, and that even younger kids would enjoy this one with adult guidance.  Inside Out would be really beneficial for older kids to see.  Riley is 11 when the movie starts and I think her experiences will really resonate with kids ages 11-14.

I had the chance to see this movie a few weeks ago at a special screening at the Seattle International Film Festival, and was able to interview director Pete Docter and Producer Jonas Rivera in conjunction with this special screening.  Check back tomorrow, when I’ll post the interview – and the dorky photo I asked them to pose for!



Tomorrow is Free Comic Book Day!


Tomorrow (FCBD is always the first Saturday in May) is Free Comic Book Day!  If you are in Seattle you should totally stop by Arcane Comics and More in Ballard Shoreline.  Not only is it a great shop, with a great selection of  kids’ titles, but Parenting Geekly will once again be hosting a table of activities for kids.  We’ll be there from 10 am until 4 PM with a coloring contest and free balloon swords!  Stop by, say hello and pick up some comics!

If you’re not in the Seattle area, you can find a participating retailer at the Free Comic Book Day website here: http://www.freecomicbookday.com/


Super-Dad checks out the Steampunk Bible after choosing his free comics.

One of my favorite parts of Free Comic Book Day is hanging out at the comic shop is seeing people come in to get their first comic books.  I love introducing new people to awesome comics and I encourage you to use Free Comic Book Day as a non-intimidating, no  cost way  to check out current offerings.  That being said, after seven years of watching newbies nervously creep into the shop I have a few words of advice:

  • Don’t be afraid to ask where the free comics are.  We know why you’re there, don’t be embarrassed. It’s a fun day for us and we want you to find all the cool free stuff!
  • Respect limits. Comic shops have to pay for the free comics they give out.  Most stores have a limit of two or three free titles.  If there’s a fourth comic you are dying to check out or if you are planning on making a purchase in the store it doesn’t hurt to ask if you can grab an extra, but be reasonable.
  • Make sure the comics you are getting are actually free.  This is pretty easy since they are all marked with a big blue “Free Comic Book Day” logo. Also, show the cashier what you are taking before you leave. My local shop had the free books on one side of rack and graphic novels on the other side.  An embarrassing moment with a customer would have been avoided had he checked with someone at the shop before trying to leave with a $30 copy of Blankets.  Also, if something is marked $30, there’s a good chance they aren’t giving it away.
  • Check out the stuff for sale.  We know you came for free books, and we’re totally cool with that, but if you take a minute to see what your local shop has to offer you may be pleasantly surprised.  Arcane carries toys, collectibles, trading card games, clothing and whole bunch of other stuff you never knew you needed.  You don’t have to buy anything on Free Comic Book Day, but it’s a great opportunity to get to know what the shops in your neighborhood offer for the next time you have a little spending money.
  • If your store is hosting a special guest, talk to them!  Comic book creators are usually super excited to talk about what they’ve done.  If you haven’t heard of them, ask them what their book is about, they are there to talk about it!

I hope this post has inspired you to find a comic retailer near you on Free Comic Book Day!  Come back here on Saturday and let me know what books you picked up in the comment section!

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