Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978



Zoo Vet

Zoo Vet

Spring 2005 Software
Ages: 9 & Up
Price: $19.95
Platform: Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP / Mac 10.2, 10.3
Review:
Many children love animals, and In Zoo Vet, they get to examine and treat animals with various ailments at a large zoo. The player has a number of animals to choose from at any time, and is free to play in any order. During the examination, the player commands a plethora of instruments for monitoring the animal’s vital signs, and for examining the specific ailment. Players can take blood tests, x-rays, even stool samples. And there are just as many choices for treating the animal. This kind of open-ended choice greatly enhances the chance that the child will engage in the invention and creativity we want for their playtime.

The game would be stronger if there were more emphasis on understanding rather than on parroting right answers. It insistently instructs players exactly what to do at each stage- even when it doesn’t explain why - and it scolds them when they try the “wrong” thing. Many children will feel obliged to joylessly do what they are told without gaining any real understanding of veterinary science. It’s true that the real world would have little tolerance for a Vet who applies the wrong treatment, but Zoo Vet is a game, not a professional simulation, and one wishes the creators were more open to the child’s experimentation. Still, if a child is already intrigued by the work of Veterinarians, she might really enjoy this exposure to the tools of the trade.

Scot Osterweil   ©2005 Parents' Choice
Scot Osterweil is the creator of the Zoombinis, and the co-designer of "Zoombinis Logical Journey," "Zoombinis Mountain Rescue," and "Zoombinis Island Odyssey." His other computer games include "YOIKS!" and "Switchback." He lives with his wife and two sons near Boston.

Look for this product at:
Legacy Interactive
http://www.legacyinteractive.com

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