Fishy (ESM) Review | A&B Computing - Everygamegoing

A&B Computing

BBC Model B

Published in A&B Computing 2.09

Fishy is a simulation, based on real data, about fishing for plaice in the North Sea. The program can be used at different levels by children of primary and secondary age - the levels being set by the ability of the children to consider/apply the various concepts and skills involved: a fishing trip, distribution, conservation; accurate recording and simple calculations, developing strategies, applying various statistical methods.

Up to five companies, each represented by an individual or group, can take part. All transactions are recorded on the log sheet provided to enable each company to work out its "score" for each voyage. The program simulates the usual factors which affect fishing: weather, location, size of catch, and luck.

The screen format is well-designed - allowing large number of facts to be presented and recorded in an attractive way - grid map (once again, why not use the accepted method of using the bottom left hand corner as the "base point"?), table of information on the companies taking part, weather report, catch score. Instructions for filling in the log sheets appear on the screen at the appropriate time - these records are helpful when deciding on strategies for subsequent fishing trips.

Companies set out to fish each week, select their

locations and lower the nets to haul in their catch

location of plaice in the North Sea, but during any one game, the stocks in an area decrease in proportion to the catches recorded there!

Having caught their fish, the "companies" decide their own landing days independently and secretly for each trip (a touch of fishy espionage?). The computer generated auction prices take into account "market forces", which adds to the realism and fun - when the fish is landed, how much was landed in any previous voyages in the game, and the size of the current catches. Costs involved are based on the distance from Lowestoft to the selected fishing grounds, so they have to be careful of rash exploration.

This is an interesting program which will provide added stimulus to a project. It would have been enhanced if a summary of the transaction had been included, which the groups could use to check their own - and their competitor! - scores, rather than the "Add together your scores for each voyage" message.

While it is possible to run one or two groups through the program for "X weeks" and then start again, if one wishes to run five companies at one time (same weather reports) with three children in each group, the numbers around the computer or movement to and fro becomes too great, and unfortunately there's no facility to save data for another occasion. I would prefer, from a classroom organisation point of view, the teacher options offered as standard in Cambridgeshire Software House's simulations.

Most teachers using this program would welcome more background information, e.g. some of the statistics on which the program is based. However, the rather sketchy notes ends with "Those interested in receiving details of EARO publications which support the study of North Sea fishing are invited to write to the address given below" - why not include them and save the postage?

Outside the East Anglia Region, this program is available from E.S.M.

Des Thomas

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