I have to admit that I am more than a little disappointed by this program. Being sponsored by the RSPB and involving the vital area of conservation, I expected to be enthralled by a simulation game of real interest. Instead, I feel that it can only be described as a watered down version of a Dictator type game.
In these games you are allowed to select how resources should be used and then see the results of your actions on screen. The program has taken this idea and then applied it to the RSPB's Osprey conservation project.
One area where this program scores over the others of its type is in the quality of the graphics which are well drawn and move in attractive ways. However, these do not make up for the lack of interest that I found in the rest of the program.
Each season you are told how many osprey are nesting and how many wardens you have available. They can be used in the following ways:
- Looking after the main site, and therefore being on hand to prevent the tourists disturbing the birds.
- They might be assigned to the educational aspects of the work, making sure that people know about the osprey and the best ways to look after them.
- Finally, they can be assigned to stop egg stealing and therefore allow more eggs the chance of hatching.
These three options are all that you can select from, and that is the whole of the variety that you have to play with. There is no allocation of money, no building of physical defences and little chance to change public option, which I feel might have been included to make the game more realistic and interesting.
Yes, I am aware that this is a game/educational package for children - but if they are old enough to appreciate the complexities of resource management then I'm sure that they could cope with more variables than this program gives. Any child who has played the game of this type on the BBC Welcome tape (YELLOW RIVER KINGDOM) is likely to find this game very tame indeed!
After you have made your decisions you see the effect of your action in moving graphics. This is all very good but there is still too little motivation to keep you trying new combinations of options. The weather and other variables are beyond your control, of course, and whilst this should act as an added interest, I found that it tended to make the effect of your decisions even more difficult to understand.
The one part of the package which is superb is its 32 page, full colour booklet of instructions. This is packed with interesting information about the birds and the RSPB, and has a number of excellent colour photographs too. This certainly sets the project into its context and contains a full bibliography for those who want to know more.
If you need a simple computer based support to other schoolwork on this subject, then this might be of use to you, but I still cannot help feeling cheated by the simplicity of the package.