Image: Endangered Wolf Center logo

WolfQuest developed by
MN Zoo logo
Eduweb logo
Content support by
International Wolf Center logo

Is E really for Everyone?

September 13th, 2007

Dave raves:
From the start, we’ve been designing WolfQuest primarily for ‘tween-agers, nine to thirteen. We have many reasons for that decision, but most important among them: this is the age when kids generally stop going to zoos and lose much of their curiosity about animals. (Not all of them, of course—or WolfQuest wouldn’t have a following even before the game has been released–but most of them.) We see WolfQuest as a way to reenergize their interest in zoos, wildlife, and ecology.

Of course, we like to think that the game will appeal to a much broader range of ages, and the response we’ve gotten so far certainly supports that hope. But we have also heard from some adults asking if they are allowed to play the game, and from others who are skeptical that the multiplayer missions will be a safe place for all ages. Obviously safety is a critical priority for us, and we’ve given a lot of thought to how to ensure it—without impeding the social learning that is central to the game concept.

To that end, we have finally ruled out freeform live text chat in the multiplayer game. As much as we’d like to offer this, we simply can’t monitor it and ensure it’s safe and age-appropriate for everyone. Besides, wolves can’t chat like people, so why should player-wolves? Instead, we plan to offer text chat using a limited &ldqou;wolf talk” lexicon (look it up), just like in vintage adventure games. We hope this will allow enough direct social communication for fun and meaningful gameplay, without the risks of fully open chat.

Within the game itself, wolf social interactions are stylized, turn-based interactions. All such interactions will use brief phrases that represent actual wolf vocalizations and behaviors. Soon we’ll have screenshots showing how that works.

We’re working on other ways to ensure that the multiplayer missions are safe for everyone—but we’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. What have you seen in other games that works—or doesn’t work?

To make comments on this post, please join the WolfQuest forum and make your comments in the Developer’s Blog forum found here.

Cialis tablets
Cialis levivia viagra vs vs
Phentermine no prescription
Tramadol ingredients
Hydrocodone dosage
Order ambien online
Viagra sale online
Levivia vs viagra
Order tramadol cod
Viagra lawsuits texas
Viagra maker
Cheap phentermine no shipping
Valium vs xanax
Cheap fioricet
Phentermine tablet
Phentermine 15 mg
Does viagra work
Compare phentermine price
Buy Effexor
Vicodin prescription
Tramadol narcotic
Phentermine price
Difference between viagra and levivia
Pay pal phentermine
Order xanax cod
Diet phentermine
Generic online phentermine
Viagra in canada
Levitra vs cialis
Phentermine 37 5mg
Xanax during pregnancy
Viagra and ischemic optic neuropathy
Cheap phentermine no prescription
Free viagra online
Ambien rx
Phentermine yellow 30 mg
Cheap phentermine with online consultation
Cheapest viagra on line
Buy cheap phentermine free fedex
Related drugs to phentermine
Phentermine c.o.d. Tomorrow
Lowest phentermine 37 5 prices
Viagra anxiety
Best price viagra
Best generic viagra
Cheapest free shipping phentermine
Mail order viagra online
Xanax shipped cod
Phentermine blue diet pills
Paris cheep phentermine
Xanax no prescription needed
Free cialis samples
Buy Didrex
Phentermine international order
Bad side effects of viagra
Natural suppliments work like viagra
Pharmacy phentermine affiliate
Combining ativan and neurontin and tramadol
Phentermine sameday overnight saturday delivery
Adderall skin allegra skin xanax skin
Cialis generic
First viagra commercial network tv
Buying vicodin
Female spray viagra
Viagra online order guide
Herbal substitute viagra
Picture of xanax
Xanax interaction with paxil
Overnight xanax
Order generic viagra
Online phentermine order
Tramadol use in dogs
Ssri phentermine heart
Best price on phentermine
Viagra prescription
Vicodin withdrawal symptom
Klonopin versus xanax
Viagra suppliers in the uk
Cialis forums
Tramadol hcl 50 mg tablet
Phentermine at cost with no prescription
Buy xanax online without a prescription
Pfizer viagra sperm
Phentermine and birth defects
Xanax drug tests
Lowest price on phentermine
Phentermine without doctor’s approval
Woman taking viagra
Female viagra
Berman sister female viagra study

Reality Bites

June 14th, 2007

Dave raves:
At first glance, the life of a wild wolf looks like perfect material for a realistic eco-game. And at second glance, and third glance, and fourth glance. But now that we’re chin-deep in game development, we keep running into conflicts between good gameplay and realistic wolf behavior. Wolves sleep 15 hours a day, on average. Much of the rest of the time is spent trotting cross-country, hour after hour, marking their territory and looking for prey. And when they do find prey, the hunt fails far more often than it succeeds. None of those aspects of a wolf’s life would make for satisfying gameplay. So in those ways and many others, we are not making a realistic game. No one would play it if we did.

And despite many requests, we don’t have the budget to create a massively multiplayer online game either. Maybe we’ll tackle that in WolfQuest 2: The Pack Persists.

But as we craft WolfQuest missions, we are trying to find ways to reshape familiar gameplay around the core realities of a wolf’s life, even when that goes against entrenched genre conventions. For example: you chase down an elk, biting its hindquarters, sapping its energy, and finally bring it down. You chow down for a few moments to refill your energy…and then you look around for the next elk to chase down and kill. Standard gamer expectations, right? But not standard wolf behavior. An elk kill will typically satisfy a wolf’s hunger for several days. How fun is that?

But WolfQuest is a game first and foremost, so we have to find ways to keep it fun without setting up the gameplay so players massacre every elk in a herd. How to do that? Perhaps the rest of the elk run away while you chow down on your kill. Maybe you have to fight off a coyote that wants to snack on the carcass. Maybe, once in awhile, a grizzly bear decides that the carcass is his dinner, not yours. You won’t mind stopping the hunt in favor of that boss battle!

And of course, after your pups are born, you won’t have time to hunt a second or third elk. No, you must eat your fill so you can return to the den and regurgitate the meal into their hungry little mouths. We’re already thinking about how to portray those tender moments in their full glory. After all, at times there’s no substitute for realism!

To make comments on this post, please join the WolfQuest forum and make your comments in the Developer’s Blog forum found here.

Connecting with the Wild

April 2nd, 2007

In Richard Louv’s book Last Child in the Woods, he makes a fairly compelling argument that today’s youth are spending less times outdoors and that this is detrimental to their health. He lays out a series of scientific studies that have shown that kids who spend significant time outdoors have better coordination, self discipline, agility, imagination, observation skills, have reduced stress levels and are sick less often. While not directly blaming television and video games, it is obvious that Richard feels that kids spend too much time in front of screens and too little time mucking around in ponds and woodlands. This is a common feeling among environmental educators and has led to some of my peers reacting cautiously to the news that I am designing a video game. In some cases, it’s almost as if I showed up to a PETA meeting wearing a fur coat.

As a former video game junkie (I can’t say current because having two kids under the age of five severely limits my playing time) and an environmental educator—I do believe you can have the best of both worlds. I believe you can use video game technology to create amazing worlds and experiences that can help players understand and interact with the real world in new ways. This is what we are hoping to accomplish with WolfQuest. If all players do when they finish the game is say “that was fun” and move on with their everyday lives—I won’t feel like we have succeeded. We want players to experience the world of the wolf in such a compelling way that they will be intrigued to learn more. We want players to finish the game and seek out ways to connect with real wolves and wolf researchers. After the launch of WolfQuest, we hope to engage players through the website in real wolf issues and get players interested in visiting zoos, national parks, etc. where they might see live wolves or if that’s not possible where you live to just become more interested in exploring the natural world.

This is where we need your help. We are collecting ideas for creative ways to connect WolfQuest players with the real world. We already have some ideas (hiding passwords that open new aspects of the game at partner zoos and parks, online forums with wolf researchers and wolf zookeepers, etc.) but we need more. Tell us what types of interaction with the real world of wolves and wolf research you would like to see on our site and would use. What would make you want to head outside into the “real wild”??

To make comments on this post, please join the WolfQuest forum and make your comments in the Developer’s Blog forum found here.

Everything’s better when you do it together

March 20th, 2007

Dave raves:
Multiplayer will be one of WolfQuest’s most exciting features, but how will it actually work? Unfortunately, we can’t say exactly, not yet. We’re still deep in development and haven’t finalized our multiplayer functionality yet. We do know, however, that multiplayer will consist of ad hoc standalone missions. This won’t be a persistent MMORPG* world like World of Warcraft or Runescape. Two to four players will form a pack together, engage in a hunt or some other mission, and then disband at the end of that mission. As exciting as a wolf MMO might be, that’s just not what we’re up to with this game.

These multiplayer missions were our original vision of WolfQuest—people and wolves are both social animals, so a social role-playing game is a natural match. But early in the design process, we realized the critical role that the single-player mission sequence will play in achieving our learning goals for the game. These single player missions will teach you how to be a wolf. Think like a wolf. Act like a wolf. Other wolves (computer-controlled wolves) will help you in this regard, because they’ll always react to you as a real wolf would. In multiplayer, on the other hand, human player-wolves are often likely to react to you as a human would. Since our goal is to put players deep in the world of the wild wolf, in many ways the single-player missions will be most effective at that.

So where, then, does multiplayer fit in? For me, multiplayer has a thrilling intensity that elevates the gameplay to something entirely different and more potent than any single-player mission. (Of course, sometimes that degree of intensity is the last thing I want after a long day at work, which I why I have plenty of single-player games as well.) We want our multiplayer missions to capture the intense social aspects of wolf life in a way that the single-player missions simply can’t. Whether hunting elk, engaging in a turf battle with another pack, or other to-be-decided missions, multiplayer will throw players into an exciting challenge that can only be accomplished through true cooperation and competition. In many ways, we still see that as the heart of the WolfQuest experience—but the complete WolfQuest experience will encompass both single- and multiplayer modes.

*MMORPG: Massively multiplayer online role-playing game.

To make comments on this post, please join the WolfQuest forum and make your comments in the Developer’s Blog forum found here.

Play to Learn/ Learn to Play

March 14th, 2007

Steven Reasons:
I’ve just played an RPG through to the end—twice. The first time through, as usual, I consulted a number of walkthroughs and FAQ’s about the game from Gamespot.com. Some may call it cheating, but I prefer to call it using an advance organizer. Exploring a game world by complete trial and error can be fun, up to a point. And there are always those hardy first pioneers of a game who do exactly that. But the rest of us who follow can choose to walk in their footsteps or go it alone. Maybe it’s just my personality, but I really enjoyed drawing on that accumulated knowledge about the game and then acting on it. I made certain choices about which shortcuts to use and which ones not to to take advantage of.

But, just like having a map and a guidebook (or a friend who can show me around) when I travel to an unfamiliar place in real life, I found that the walkthroughs and FAQ’s, rather than making the game too easy by letting me cheat, enhanced my ability to navigate the game and take advantage of all its nooks and crannies. I still had to master the controls and kill the monsters myself. But boy, it sure did help knowing what the vulnerabilities of those monsters were.

Second time through, I took it as a challenge to complete each quest, poke into every cranny, pick up ever treasure, max out my character, and pretty much do it all. The second time through, I felt like I could relax and notice more and be more strategic. And I gained a lot of satisfaction from the feeling of competence I had playing again and knowing what was coming. I think a lot of what makes games replayable in a way that we might not watch the same movie or read the same book over and over is that the anticipation of what’s coming next makes us feel more capable in the game world, rather than being bored (up to a point of course). In terms of gameplay then, a good game invites the player to play the same part of the game over and over again, feeling that competence and sense of mastery. It does not necessarily require that the game world be so large that every player must constantly explore new territory over and over.

And think about it: our wolves in Yellowstone have a territory that is familiar to them. They know the place they live extremely well. But they have constantly challenging lives. Hopefully playing WolfQuest will become like that, too.

The really important lesson for WolfQuest in all this is that when it comes to learning, we do not need to burden the gameplay itself with accomplishing all of the teaching. If you think of everything I learned about the game world I inhabited, I have knowledge from playing myself combined with knowledge gained from the walkthroughs. If you tested me on what I know about the game world as a whole, my answers would include content from both sources. So as we look ahead to evaluating the success of WolfQuest as a learning experience, we will be looking at the complete ecosystem our game inhabits, including the forums and ancillary materials. A good game teaches its players to play without a manual. But a great game is even more fun when knowledge accumulated about it spreads beyond the game world and helps other players learn and do more.

To make comments on this post, please join the WolfQuest forum and make your comments in the Developer’s Blog forum found here.

Alpha Wolf??

February 2nd, 2007

Grant Rants:
Almost two years ago, when the idea for WolfQuest first started percolating between me and Dave, we had several conversations about what would become the key gameplay elements of this wolf game. Hunting obviously came up right away, along with finding mates, establishing territories and raising pups. We also talked a lot about establishing dominance within your pack as a key goal of the game. As everyone knows, wolves start out with lower status in their pack and work their way up to the top. To be the “alpha wolf” …right??

Well as we started to talk with wolf experts it turns out that the old concept of a wolf-pack being made up of a group of unrelated adults vying for dominance is not reflected in the real world. While wolves definitely have a “pecking order”—the most common pack is simply a breeding pair and their offspring of the last two or three years. When younger wolves reach breeding age they are much more likely to disperse and try to find an unrelated wolf to pair up with then try to take over their current pack. Dr. L. David Mech (one of the pre-eminent wolf biologists in the world and a member of our advisory team) has written an excellent paper on this subject. You can also listen to Dr. Mech being interviewed on this and other wolf topics on the radio. His thoughts on wolf delisting and controlling wolf populations in Minnesota are also interesting fodder for a later blog.

Regardless, the news that wolves didn’t fight all the time within their pack made us stop and rethink our gameplay. In order to keep WolfQuest as accurate as possible, we will be downplaying within-pack rivalries. This doesn’t mean that we will not have wolf on wolf fighting as a possibility, it will just be a lot more common with outsider lone wolves and rival packs than with your own pack (family) members. We also are going to avoid using the “alpha wolf” terminology for now. We are searching for a suitable replacement (breeding male and female just doesn’t quite feel right either) so please offer your suggestions!!

To make comments on this post, please join the WolfQuest forum and make your comments in the Developer’s Blog forum found here.


January 26th, 2007

Dave Raves:
We’ve been talking to a lot of kids lately about the WolfQuest game to find out what they know about wolves and what they’d like to see in the game. Enthusiasm is high, and we’ve been pleased that very few have negative attitudes about wolves. As far as this generation is concerned, the big bad wolf has left the building.

In fact, we’re seeing just the opposite. Kids love wolves. Kids think that wolves are smart—really smart. And strong. And spiritual. And pretty. And good parents to their pups. All these are true (well, I can’t vouch for “spiritual”). And there’s nothing wrong with these beliefs. They might be termed “naïve notions,” but I prefer to think of them simply as “childhood.” And because our game will portray wolves more accurately—killing sheep, etc.–we need to anticipate how kids will assimilate these new ideas about the animal.

We’ve also noticed that kids suggest all kinds of crazy things for the game, like sneaking into the farmer’s barn to steal things, breaking into the zoo to free all the captive wolves, and navigating a maze while fighting off hunters and grizzlies. Clearly, these kids have played a lot of games. And clearly they aren’t making a distinction between a fantasy game and a nonfiction game. Which raises several questions about kids playing the actual game. Will it seem too tame, being bound by the strictures of reality and biology? Will kids invent their own missions within the game to indulge these inclinations? And most critically for our leaning goals: Will kids transfer their in-game experience to their knowledge of real-world wolves? Or will all their learning remain in the realm of fantasy?

To make comments on this post, please join the WolfQuest forum and make your comments in the Developer’s Blog forum found here.

Gender Blender

December 13th, 2006

Dave Raves:
Who plays games? Several studies show that 50% or more of all gamers are female—but these include casual games like computer solitaire, so they don’t tell us much useful about WolfQuest’s potential audience. I suspect that the conventional wisdom on this one is right—that most ‘tween-age gamers are boys.1 And since many missions in the game will focus on hunting and fighting, I’ll admit that we figure to have that audience in the pocket.

However, since starting work on WolfQuest, we’ve gotten very enthusiastic responses from girls, including one who nearly burst into tears when told the game wouldn’t be released for another year. So we have reason to hope that the subject matter will attract girls to the game.

Even with that initial interest, of course, we could still lose those girls if the gameplay doesn’t sustain their interest. Whether girls’ preferences stem from genetics or societal norms (a debate I won’t wade into here), there is plenty of evidence that these differences exist.

So let’s get the 800-pound stereotype out of the way first: Yes, some missions will focus on raising pups, and perhaps they will have special appeal to girls. But even if that’s so, those are just a few missions out of a dozen or more. We can’t rely on them to keep girls playing the game.

So what do girls like in a game? Being a boy myself, all I can do is report what the research says. Fortunately, there’s been a lot of research on the matter.

Game developer Sheri Graner Ray boils it down to basic Darwinian survival skills: Boys like finding a moving object in an uncluttered field (e.g. wildebeast on the savannah) while girls prefer finding a stationary objects in a cluttered field (picking berries in the forest). I’m a sucker for evolutionary biology, so I find this wonderfully appealing, especially since it explains 90% of commercial games. Unfortunately for WolfQuest, in this scheme, wolves are from boyland. Most of their energy is spent pursuing moving elk in a grassy field. They don’t spend much time picking berries. (That would be BearQuest.)

Among Ray’s other recommendations for gender-inclusive game design is the need for “mutually beneficial solutions”—goals and outcomes that benefit both the player and NPCs (non-player characters). If true, than perhaps WolfQuest has a chance with girls, since hunting and fighting are in service of the pack’s survival (not to mention the pups’ survival, after they turn up).

Carrie Heeter, Co-Director of the Serious Games program at Michigan State, has also found many interesting gender differences over her course of research. Among those that seem most pertinent to WolfQuest:

  • Girls focus on playing; boys focus on winning. Boys are more achievement-oriented and try to beat the game while girls prefer non-linear “free play,” lingering in the game world and often favoring solutions that don’t necessarily require beating their opponent.
  • Girls like funny games more than boys. When designing a game themselves, girls created silly, lighthearted opponents while boys created realistic and fierce opponents.
  • Girls play alone but focus on social interactions; boys focus on the goals whether playing alone or with others. When designing a game, girls created single-player games which included negotiations and social interactions with NPCs; boys created both single- and multi-player games but did not emphasize negotiations with other players or NPCs.

How do these findings apply to WolfQuest? I think that variety is the key. We can’t avoid the fact that wolves hunt and kill their prey in fast-paced chases. We can’t avoid that wolves mix it up with other packs in territorial disputes. But we can design WolfQuest to include a wider variety of missions. We can provide avenues to satisfaction and success that don’t require absolute mastery of the elk chase and the fatal lunge at the throat. We can create a 3D world that is rich in things to do besides hunting and fighting. Players will be able to design their wolf avatar. Explore the wilderness. Develop and deepen pack bonds through social interaction. And, of course, raise pups.

Our best guesses will only take us so far, though. So the most important thing that we can do is test the game with both boys and girls. See how they respond to different missions, and different aspects of each mission. Revise the gameplay accordingly. And test it again. We’ll be starting that process as soon as we have a decent demo level, probably in March 2007. I’ll report what we find—and what we’re doing about it—right here.

1 Many studies back this up, finding that more boys than girls play games, and boys spend more time playing games than girls. However, one study that gave a group of boys and girls time to play half a dozen games in a variety of genres (learning and otherwise) found that girls generally rated the games higher than boys, suggesting that games are a viable medium for engaging girls in a topic.

To make comments on this post, please join the WolfQuest forum and make your comments in the Developer’s Blog forum found here.


Sheri Graner Ray. Gender Inclusive Game Design. Charles River Media, 2004.

Carrie Heeter, Rhonda Egidio, Punya Mishra. Alien Games: What happens when girls design space learning games? 2005.

Carrie Heeter, Kaitlan C. Chu, Punya Mishra, Rhonda Egidio. Gender and Game Play Style and Attitude : A Six Game Analysis. 2004.

Kaitlan Chunhui Chu, Carrie Heeter, Rhonda Egidio, and Punya Mishra. Girls and Games Literature Review. 2004.

What do you learn when playing a game?

October 23rd, 2006

Dave Raves:
Claims for learning outcomes from games run the gamut from “nothing at all” to professional assassin skills. Hopefully the truth lies somewhere else. In a recent Harpers Magazine roundtable, Raph Koster points out that what a game teaches may bear no relation with its ostensible subject or goals. “In Pac-Man,” he says, “we think we’re eating dots, but the game is actually about visiting every location on the grid. With first-person shooter games like Grand Theft Auto, we’re learning to position a cursor on a screen accurately.” There is inevitably some distance between the user’s concrete actions in the game interface and the scenario of the game. This has always been interested me—how to ensure that what user’s do is tightly connected with the content and learning goals.

But surely something else is going on in the player’s head beyond mastering the interface and these basic tasks of the game. The context and layers wrapping that core gameplay matter, don’t they? What about the meaning-making?

Perhaps the most extreme argument that games are effective teachers comes from people like David Grossman, who claims that videogames and other contemporary media “teach our kids to kill.” But this “monkey see, monkey do” theory reflects a discredited transmission or “empty slate” model of learning. If it were true, we’d have to ban not only violent games but also racing games that encourage reckless driving and strategy games that lead players to conquer rival nations, not to mention the most popular computer game of all time, which lets players torture and starve other people.

And if it were true, we’d also have shelves of effective learning games that caused all sorts of noble behaviors from to recycling to world peacemaking.

Alas, people ain’t that simple. Players don’t go out and shoot their neighbor after playing a violent game any more than they’ll roadtrip to Yellowstone and grab an elk by the teeth after playing WolfQuest. People consume games just like they consume everything else they encounter. They chew it up, taking the parts they want, filtering it through their own idiosyncratic interpretations on it, and finally swallowing those transformed bits while spitting out everything else.

So we don’t have to worry about PETA boycotting WolfQuest. No elk will be harmed as a result of this game.

But players will learn…something, right? Hopefully so. To think about what that might be, let’s see what learning researcher James Paul Gee says players would learn from a state of the art instructional video game. He looked at Full Spectrum Warrior, a game adapted from an Army training simulation. The game immerses the player in the specific activities, values, and ways of seeing of the professional soldier, with support from NPCs (non-player characters) who provide just-in-time guidance and information. “I now know,” says Gee,” what ‘bounding’ means in military practice, how it is connected to military values, and what role it plays tactically in achieving military goals. A mere dictionary definition could not begin to compete with mine.” Gee calls this approach “authentic professionalism.” A successful game introduces “complex languages and the ways in which such languages are married to specific experiences, like gravity to a tossed coin. These experiences are then used to solve problems and answer questions.”

Squad tactics, group hierarchy, attack strategies, territorial conflicts….WolfQuest is not that different than Full Spectrum Warrior, except that the domain of professional expertise is that of the wolf rather than the soldier. Wolves have knowledge of their environment, their pack, and their ways of survival. If we do our job right, players will gain a general appreciation of this wolf knowledge along with some deep, active understanding of the particular wolf skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the game. They might use this knowledge of predator-prey relations or pack hierarchy to understand why their backyard is full of squirrels or why their dog does (or doesn’t) heed their commands. Eventually, they might check out a library book about wolves, incorporate wolves into their dramatic play, write a letter of support for wolf conservation and reintroduction, and perhaps even persuade their family to go see wolves in the wild.

Gee notes that Full Spectrum Warrior does presents a certain ideology, one that may not be palatable to everyone. Certainly the Army hopes that the game will inspire some percentage of players to join up, or at least give a respectful nod when they pass a soldier on the street. We also intend WolfQuest to present an ideology — about wild animals and wilderness. Players will inevitably transform that ideology as they integrate it into their own worldview. We don’t expect them to shut off their computers forever to go live in the wilderness (how would they hear about WolfQuest sequels if they did?). But we do hope that they’ll keep something of WolfQuest with them when they do go outside, occasionally seeing the world through the eyes of a wolf, and savoring the primal connections between one predator and another.

To make comments on this post, please join the WolfQuest forum and make your comments in the Developer’s Blog forum found here.

Why Wolves??

October 14th, 2006

Grant Rants:
OK - how about a simple question. Why did we choose to develop a game about wolves in the first place??

Yes, we were looking for an animal that had dynamic social behaviors to encourage multiplayer gameplay… and yes, Minnesota is bursting at the seams with wolf experts, but there was another, more compelling reason for me.

Wolves have historically been misrepresented and misunderstood. Historically, this took place in fairy tales and cartoons where wolves represented the untamed and wild outdoors that was to be feared and shut out. This fear, combined with the growing US population helped create the wolf bounty system of the 1800’s and early 1900’s which directly led to wolves being mostly extirpated out of the lower 48 states (except for a small population in Northern Minnesota). These fears and stereotypes, while slowly disappearing, can still be found in some regions of the country and have become more pronounced as wolf populations are expanding and being reintroduced into many areas of their former range and coming into contact with humans.

Lately, however, a different misunderstanding about wolves has arisen. Wolves are increasingly being romantacized and given an idealized status by popular culture. In this stereotype, wolves can do no wrong and it is merely our unelightened awareness that prevents us from living completely in harmony with wolves. This attitude, while definitely less harmful to wolf populations can still cause damage. Wolves are predators. They must kill in order to live and occassionaly they kill something we prefer they wouldn’t (a sheep, a cow, a pet dog, etc.). To pretend like wolves never do this, or that somehow it is a ranchers fault if their cattle are preyed on, is not helpful to resolving this conflict.

This is the challenge, then for WolfQuest. To skirt skillfully between those who would demonize and those who would idealize wolves. One of the ways we hope to do this is by basing WolfQuest on the best scientific information available. I will talk about some of this data in future blog entries. Also, by placing our virtual wolves in an environment with humans and human altered landscapes in close proximity, we can hopefully place players in situations to experience the reality of wolf/human conflicts. By forcing our players to have to choose between going off to find a deer (which may take a long time) or running over to the local farm to snatch a sheep - our players will hopefully learn a more realistic view of life in wolf country.

Whether we are able to do this successfully is still to be seen. But I think having a accurate and honest understanding of an animal and how it lives is critical if humans are going to make the right decisions to insure its survival as a species. And whether we like it or not, the fate of wolves does lie in human hands.

To make comments on this post, please join the WolfQuest forum and make your comments in the Developer’s Blog forum found here.

Contact Us  |  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy |  Abuse Reports

© 2005- Minnesota Zoo & Eduweb