ConstructionSkills is using free online games to attract the kids, says Eleanor Harding. But old-fashioned city-building epics like SimCity might be a better way to waste a rainy weekend

Whether it’s text messages or the upcoming construction diploma, the industry is trying any number of tactics to get down with the kids. This summer’s latest wheeze is ConstructionSkills’ selection of online games.

One game (pictured below) features Little Jimmy Hambroke, who has to clean up his room, which he’s “turned into a building site”. The games are aimed at 14 to 19 year olds and the creators claim they’ve collectively had 1 million plays in the past three months, as well as glowing responses from teenagers on social networking site Bebo.

Even so, it seems doubtful that many over the age of 13 would take to Little Jimmy. He’s fun, but just a bit patronising.

Still, the word on the web is that the future of construction education lies in interactive technology.

If you want to get your nippers following in your footsteps, why not go old-school with city-building games that were pioneered in 1989 by SimCity. Since then, there’s been City Life, Tonka Construction, Civilization and BridgeBuilder, all offering much of the same.

Better still, there’s Construction Destruction, which is a bit like Fifa Manager for contractors, except you get to swing a virtual wrecker’s ball. If you do well, you get to become a tycoon – and who wouldn’t want that?

For younger kids, there’s Bob the Builder’s website, the highlight of which is Scrambler’s Rabble, where you can join Scrambler in his off-road adventure collecting sunflowers and avoiding puddles.

Not the most realistic portrayal of the construction industry but, then again, maybe it’s better that way.