Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"


Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Game Review

I'll admit it: I'm one of those grumpy gamers who never really liked The Sims franchise.

Tell your sim to get out of bed. Tell your sim to exercise. Tell your sim to go to work.

Blah, blah, blah.

I mean, com'on, I have a hard enough time telling myself to do those things, much less spending hours upon hours plopped in front of my computer monitor ordering my virtual avatar to perform the same mundane tasks. This does not sound like my idea of a good time.

But something new is afoot with EA Games' latest iteration of the franchise. And it's making quite a difference, especially for grumpy ol' gamers like me.

Fans of the franchise will find The Sims 3 familiar in many ways. The slick 3-D graphics, cutaway house walls and click-to-move gameplay mechanics remain pretty much the same, for instance.

But the improved character traits and the ramped-up depth of play give the latest Sims entry a world of fresh potential. Sure, you can still concentrate on micromanaging your digital self's neighborly visits and potty schedule. But now you've got bigger life goals and careers to undertake, too.

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning.

The Game of Life
The first thing you do after popping Sims 3 into your computer is create a character (or family of characters) to play. This process can take minutes or hours depending on just how über-detailed you want to be. My teen daughter and I, for example, worked together to create a sim family that looked almost exactly like our household. Even the dad's hairline reflected reality—poor guy.

Once you've got your character's look just right, it's time to mix in some personality. Sims 3 enables you to choose from more than 60 mental, physical, social and lifestyle traits to nuance your avatar into the person you really want him or her to be. Should you so choose, your sim could be a workaholic perfectionist who longs for scientific accolades. Or maybe an athletic, flirty party animal who secretly yearns to be an international super spy.

Given such diverse possibilities, the potential personality and vocational combinations are practically unlimited. And they ultimately shape how your character will interact with his or her world and grow over the course of a lifetime.

After setting up your sim and getting a handle on the responsibilities in front of you, the world is your oyster. You can buy a house, look for a job, meet other sim residents, visit movie theaters and art galleries, work for a promotion, pump up at the gym or even rummage through your neighbor's garbage. Just click the city map option and select your destination, and your sim will travel there ASAP, plunging obediently into whatever social activity you command.

As in previous incarnations of the franchise, sim characters age as gameplay progresses. So if you want to achieve your goals, you need to manage the clock closely. Because before you know it, the sands of time will be piling up against you. And you can forget becoming a sports hero once you're "old," stooped and gray.

To put it simply, it's life boiled down into a concentrated, virtual form. The game is so wide open with possibilities and creative directions that it becomes—even to this non-enthusiast—even sim-ier.

The Problem(s) With Realism
The fact that The Sims 3 is as flexible, realistic and lifelike as it is, however, also opens the door to some potential problems. For instance, characters can be dishonest, nasty, materialistic and lusty in the ways they relate to others. And the latter trait in particular can be channeled in just about any sexual direction a player might desire.

Sims can lock lips with each other in public and private. They can even bed-hop, indulging in premarital trysts, same-sex intercourse or adulterous romances with as many partners as they can woo. Some formfitting outfits can be a little revealing. (Nudity is pixelated.) Meanwhile, sex is a giggling activity hidden under the bedcovers. Still, the slightly censored nature of a character's would-be erotic exploits doesn't diminish the fact that the person playing the game is still making those lascivious (if virtual) choices.

Other unwholesome activities can be pursued as well. I created a sim with a kleptomaniac streak and proceeded to send her around town swiping cars and other belongings from families rich and poor. The result? She decorated her home with the latest and greatest, ended up fairly well-off and eventually made it to the lofty perch of "Master Thief"—hardly a vocational achievement most of us would aspire to or want to glorify. Negative consequences were nowhere in sight, unlike the probable outcome if someone tried to pull the same tricks in the real world.

Now, that's not to say that The Sims 3 will motivate impressionable gamers to digitally stomp all over every moral code they can think of. Unfortunately, however, the ability to make choices like these is a reminder that even in a creative, engaging virtual world such as this one, immoral practices and social decay can still rear their problematic heads.

And that's not just me being grumpy, either.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements


Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles



Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!