"Angry Birds" is a lot of fun, and it's certainly addictive, but it doesn't teach you much about the natural world of birds and pigs (at least not on this planet). But a new game for the iPhone and iPad is looking to take that entertainment and obsession-building game play, and add to it enough realism so that the player actually walks away a little smarter.
"Slippery Seal" follows the path of its title character, a harbor seal, as he migrates up the Pacific coast from San Francisco to Alaska. The game, which went on sale in the iTunes store, is the product of Rock Out Apps, whose CEO, Kevin Lynch, says the game was inspired by the Discovery Channel's Shark Week.Except in this game, the sharks are the bad guys, and count among the predators Slippery must avoid, along with polar bears and orca whales. Lynch says their goal was to create a game that would “stay true to the environment,” but not be "a hardcore educational game." That's the part where Slippery jumps through the air eating clams and shoots pearls at potential enemies.
Lynch hopes that the game, which is a lot of fun to play, and pretty addictive, will encourage kids (the target audience) to learn more about its characters. The Rock Out Apps web site has some information about the species that appear in the game, but I would hope that they do some more serious research online or in books.
I can't say if kids who play this will actually decide to learn more, and I hope they do. But if I had my say, I would push Rock Out Apps to include humans among the threats to seals- perhaps a group of animated club-wielding Canadians.
"Slippery Seal" is available in the iTunes Store for $1.99.