A new research has found that players of Red Dead Redemption 2 are effectively taught how to identify actual species of wildlife in America.
Red Dead Redemption 2, set in 1899 of the American west, is a game that features around 200 different animal simulations. According to Newswise, a recent study from the University of Exeter along with Truro and Penwith college discovered something fascinating by asking gamers to put names to photographs of actual wildlife.
In summary, more players of RRD2 succeeded at identifying 10-15 American creatures included in a multiple-choice quiz–about three items more than those with no experience playing the game.
Gamers displaying the best performance were those that had made it through the game’s main storyline, in other words, players that had dedicated a minimum of 40-50 hours to Red Dead Redemption 2, or had recently played it.
In addition to improved wildlife identification abilities, other players expressed being able to learn about animal ecology and behavior. In fact, one participant claimed that RDR2 taught them what a ram close to charging looked like, saying that it literally saved them from breaking a leg in real life.
“The level of detail in Red Dead Redemption 2 is famously high, and that’s certainly the case in terms of animals. Many of the animals not only look and behave realistically, but interact with each other. Possums play dead, bears bluff charge and eagles hunt snakes.” Stated Dr. Sarah Crowley from the Centre for Geography and Environmental Science at the University of Exeter.
“The game features a couple of species that are now much rarer, and one – the Carolina parakeet – that’s extinct. Hunting played a role in the Carolina parakeet’s extinction; if players shoot this species in the game, they are warned of their endangered status. If they continue shooting, the species becomes extinct, highlighting the environmental consequences of players’ actions.” Added Dr. Matthew Silk, co-author.
RDR2 lets players take up a “naturalist” role online, allowing them to become protectors of wildlife in the Old West, and it was shown that players who had experience with this role demonstrated better identification skills.
The research included a total of 586 participants from 55 countries, of which 444 had played Red Dead Redemption 2.
Truro and Penwith College’s Ned Crowley mentioned the researchers’ awareness that gamers value realism, and although producers’ curiosity may be piqued by their study, they’ve also realized that games aren’t intentionally designed to educate.
In continuation, he said that although they don’t expect big-budget games to actively teach players about conservation, “educators and conservationists can learn from the techniques used in games–such as making things immersive, and having each action mean something in terms of wider progress in the game.”
Crowley mentioned that despite the act of staying indoors on a computer often correlating to being out of touch with nature, this study’s findings have found that games can be effective at teaching people about animals without necessarily intending to.
“Gaming is very popular, and should be taken seriously by ecologists and conservationists as a force for communication.”
Whether you’re a wildlife or gaming enthusiast, or both, it looks like playing through Red Dead Redemption can be a perfect way to have a good time while simultaneously learning, without too much pressure, about some of nature’s wondrous real-life creatures. Purchase the game on Steam or actually get outside and do some sightseeing with a TELMU Telescope.