My daughter first became a fan of the Imagine series of games when she received the Imagine: Boutique Owner game for her birthday last September and greatly enjoyed it. So, we jumped at the chance to review another Imagine game - Imagine: Fashion Stylist. Petunia, my 10 year-old daughter, likes these Imagine games because the player controls outcomes through making good decisions; the games don't have the same predictable outcomes as standard action games in which a player is guaranteed advancement by, say, completing a level. In both of the Imagine games we've tried, success in the game depends upon player responsiveness and choices and is cumulative in its rewards over time. This is one reason why these games are particularly well-suited to kids my daughter's age (versus, say, the younger, immediate-gratification set!).
For Imagine: Fashion Stylist, players become fashion experts, putting together fashion ensembles for customers based on their tastes. The Stylist (the player) also must keep tabs on fashion trends through magazines. The more savvy the Stylist is, the better her choices fare with her demanding clientele! Beyond assembling outfits, the Stylist can run her own mall. This is the part of the game Petunia loves. The Stylist can own clothing, accessory, and cosmetic stores in the mall. The Stylist is responsible for designing the store windows, keeping trendy/hot items in stock, and advertising in the mall. Progression through the game involves connection to Imagine Town through the game's WiFi connection. Imagine Town is a virtual world in which players can earn codes to unlock more clothing items. (Petunia has not used this WiFi capability yet.)
What Petunia likes about this game is that it involves several different challenges: beyond the challenge of succeeding as a Stylist is the challenge of running a business (the mall) with its related needs, such as marketing and pleasing visitors to the mall. The Stylist has a demanding boss but is also a boss herself, overseeing a sales girl, hairdressers, and using the services of a fashion consultant. Like the personal assistant to a celebrity, the Stylist wields a PDA that tracks her to-do list. Success in the game means achieving the highest star rating for your mall (six stars). The only way to do this is by successfully picking and promoting brands, which involves a set of informed choices (e.g. listening to the fashion consultant, reading the trends in magazines, and responding to those pesky clients, who, at times, can be quite rude).
Petunia notes that if she could change one thing about this game, it would be to actually design the clothes for sale. She feels that if she could morph this Imagine game with Imagine: Fashion Designer, she'd have the perfect game! Generally, she loves the Imagine series; they're her go-to games these days, especially as she has more limited time to commit to gaming. These "games" can be played in short spurts of time and can be saved easily for future play, which fits better into our come-and-go lifestyle. She just received Imagine: Fashion Designer and Imagine: Zookeeper as Christmas gifts, and she is saving her allowance for Imagine: Teacher. More than anything, her willingness to purchase an Imagine product with her own money is a solid endorsement of this series of games.
As a mom, I like how this game goes beyonds the limits of fashion design into real business planning. We had some discussions this afternoon about customer service, as that's presenting some obstacles that she's working hard to overcome (it's a bit hard to "read" an electronic character's tone!), and she also discussed with me what draws her into a store in real life and how that might be applied to the game. What I'd like to see as a mom are more of these games for boys. What would draw a boy in? Imagine: Car Designer? I bet it'll be forthcoming...
Thanks to Ubisoft and to CleverGirls Collective for the opportunity to review this game. Not only did we enjoy it; we spent some quality mother-daughter bonding time over fashion that involved lots of giggles and no tears in fitting rooms, so thumbs-up for that!
If you'd are interested in picking up your own copy of Imagine: Fashion Stylist, here's a link to it on Amazon.com.
While Ubisoft provided me with this game to review, the opinions I've expressed here are solely my own and represent my honest viewpoint. Ubisoft, Clever Girls Collective and I promote Blog With Integrity.