Clash of Clans
What is it?
Clash of Clans is a free to download online multiplayer battle game. It is aimed at age 13+.
The object of the game is to build your village, design your base and defend your turf.
You can join other players in a clan to fight others, or there is the option for single player play, in which you have to attack a series of goblin buildings.
Players build their base, complete with buildings, supplies and weapons, and have to collect gold, elixir and Dark Elixir through gameplay to increase and maintain these defences against attack.
You can also collect gems by successfully completing certain tasks, or buy them through in-app purchases.
Format and price: Free on iOS and Android with in-app purchases, eg: you can buy treasure chests of gems from £3.99 to a whopping great £79.99.
What they say
‘Answer the call of the mustache! Join the international fray that is Clash of Clans. Customize your village, build an army and crush your opponents. Like using friendship to strike fear into your enemies? Join a Clan, or establish a Clashing legacy by creating your own. The choice is yours in this millions-strong community of Barbarians.’
What’s the reality?
You can’t have missed the TV campaigns for Clash of Clans – the adverts most recently featured Bond villain and Spectre star Christoph Waltz. Liam Neeson popped up in a previous version.
The game was the top grossing app on both the App Store and Google Play in 2015, with an estimated revenue of over £1million (1.5million dollars) per day.
Find out more here.
Gabriel is 11 and plays with his parents’ permission. He says: ‘I like how it’s almost never ending and I can play with my friends on it.
‘I’m in one clan with friends from school. I don’t really chat on it because I don’t want other people seeing my info so we talk on Skype or ooVoo when we’re playing. The bad thing is that it takes a long time to progress and you have to wait a day for some things, which is annoying.
‘It’s OK for little kids like my cousin (6), to play under supervision and their new game, Clash Royale, is good, maybe even better!’
What parents need to know
When you first open the game, a message flashes up to tell you about in-app purchases and how to disable them. Do this by going to Settings > General > Restrictions > Disable Restrictions.
You will be asked to set up a 4-digit PIN code. Select In-App Purchases and set to off.
You can also disable Multiplayer Games and Addings Friends if you don't want your child to interact with others. You will need to do this for every device you access the game on.
To stop other players contacing you in general on an iPhone, go to Game Centre in Settings and turn off Allow Invites and Nearby Players. You can also make your player profile private here.
For more on parental controls on Apple devices, click here.
When you first open the game, a message flashes up to tell you about in-app purchases and how to disable them. To do this go to your Google Play store app, choose Menu > Settings > Require authentication for purchases. This means you will need to set a password to make in-app purchases.
The options to choose from are Never, Family-friendly content (which works on all games classified as being for ages 12 and under), Every 30 minutes or For all purchases through Google Play on this device.
Once set, remember not to tell your child the password if you don't want them to make any purchases! You will need to do this for every device you access the game on.
You will then be asked whether you want to share your Google+ profile with anyone on the web, or customise it. Click on Public to disable this if you want to.
To stop other players contacting you on an Android phone, go to the Play Games app, touch the Menu icon [three horizontal lines] and click Settings. Click Game profile > Play now > Your Game profile. Adjust your visibility and notificatons settings as you wish.
For more on parental controls on Android devices, click here.
There is an in-game Settings area accessible via the 'cog' icon that appears on the right hand side of the screen once you start playing. Here, you can Filter Clan Chat, which changes swear words to asterisks. Make sure it is green for On.
From a safety point of view, the game has no private chat facility, but players can join and take part in Global and Clan group chats. That leaves open the possibility that children could be persuaded to chat away from the game by a fellow clan member.
Some parents have complained of bad or offensive language in group chats, that children can end up in a group with adults they don't know and that there is no reporting facility within Clan chat. It is possible to report offensive players in Global chat.
Supercell, the game makers, state that they display regular warnings against sharing personal information and have a 'constantly updated blacklist of offensive words and phrases that can be quickly found and removed from all areas of the game.'
Although the game clearly states it is for 13+ only, there was no age verification necessary to use the app. Even if there was, 14-year-olds could still play with adults in an unmoderated environment with no reporting facilities within Clan chat.
As with many games, even though it is possible to set up safety measures and restrict contact within the game itself, serious players can join forums outside the game which may not be monitored or will be peer monitored and so reaction times to bad behaviour may vary.
Clash of Clans is seriously complicated for a beginner and seriously addictive once you begin to master it. It loses points for the lack of reporting function within Clan chat groups and the fact that children can join clans with adults they don't know. If your child is going to use the multi-player option of the game unsupervised, be aware that they may come across adults and bad language - occasionally even both at the same time.