Game: WolfQuest

WolfQuest was created by the Minesota Zoo and Eduweb and it's a game that lets players experience what is it like to be a wolf. It was designed to provide enough scientific accuracy so players could actually learn several things about wolves, like how they interact with each other, how they hunt or how they raise a family. Their research has shown that the game has actually succeeded in both, teaching people about wolves and creating interest in wolves in general among them.

The game has a single player mode and a multiplayer mode. In single player mode, you can create your own wolf and you are left in the middle of the wild to survive. The game uses a sandbox approach, you can basically do whatever you want and experiment with different actions, and this helps the learning process because it allows players to fail without punishing them a lot. When interacting with other wolves, this actually encourages players expermientation with different actions and looking at the other wolf's reactions.

I didn't play the multiplayer section of the game, but I could assume that it's better than the single player because you can interact with other people, planning hunting tactics with other players should be better than trying to hunt on your own.

Also, this game relies heavily on the on-line community. They deliberately didn't explain many things in the game so they encourage on-line interaction with other people in youtube and their forums to exchange knowledge and strategies. I'm not particularly fond of this approach, but it can work if used correctly.

What I liked about the game:
  • You can customize your avatar, choosing any gender with different colors and traits. This lets players connect more easily with the game.
  • The player learns about wolves because it is required to behave like one to progress: hunting must be done, territory must be marked, pups must be taken care of and interesting interactions like 'establishing who is boss' are also necessary to progress.
  • The game keeps a good balance of realism and fantasy, such that most of what you can do is an acurrate representation of what a real wolf can do.
  • The social aspect of the game is cool and encourages players to talk to other people about the game and wolves in general, creating interest in the topic.

What I didn't like about the game:
  • The music gets extremely repetitive after a few minutes of play.
  • I understand why they decided to let some parts of the game unexplained, but for someone that is not interested in investing time on the online community, a simple in-game guidance could've been appreciated. This includes presenting the instructions in-game instead of presenting them in text windows and keyboard diagrams.
  • I experienced a game-braking glitch in which the camera got stuck just after interacting with another wolf and I was unable to move. I had to reset the game.

Minesota Zoo, Eduweb (2010). WolfQuest []

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