Independent, educational video game developer Immersed Games has released a Himalayas expansion pack for ecosystem simulation game Tyto Ecology. The developers have said that they decided to focus this first expansion pack on the Himalayas alongside UN’s World Environment Day in order to raise awareness of animal trafficking, which is one of the main reasons many of the animals in the Himalayas region are critically endangered.
The expansion pack was inspired by the valiant fight against the illegal animal trade in the Himalayas. Immersed Games hopes this expansion will bring the crimes to the attention of the community, and for every Himalayas expansion sold, they will donate $1 to the World Wildlife Fund in order to fight the wrongdoing. In Tyto Ecology, the player is given the power to build their own ecosystem while learning life science principles. Players must think critically and problem-solve to balance a beautifully simulated biome, where their decisions determine if life succeeds or fails.
The game begins with an empty biodome where the user chooses which plants and animals to place. They need to pick carefully, as various species fill different roles in the ecosystem. There is a lot of complexity to master: producers, consumers, detritus, decomposers, pollinators, plant and animal reproduction. The player must reach a balance by carefully making the right choices by managing the resources of the ecosystem.
As they grow and add diversity, the user earns coins that can be used to unlock additional species and expand their biodome. The player can also use the tools available, the Biodex (an in-game encyclopedia) and the Data Tool, which teach about life in the biodome and help the gamer use knowledge to directly influence their ecosystem.
“We’ve designed the gameplay’s learning outcomes to align with Middle and High School Next Generation Science Standards,” said Lindsey Tropf, the Founder and CEO of Immersed Games, who is also a doctoral candidate in education at the University of Florida.
The Himalayas biome releases on the Steam store for Mac and PC on June 3rd, the weekend of UN’s World Environment Day (June 5th). The expansion pack is available by itself for $3.99, and a bundle of Tyto Ecology + the Himalayas expansion is available for $9.88 (since the base game is required to play the expansion). The bundle includes the Desert, Grasslands, Rainforest, and Himalayas biodomes in the price, with almost ~100 plant and animal species.
As its debut product, Tyto Ecology is the first step in Immersed Games’ larger product vision. The studio is working on creating an educational, multiplayer online game. Tyto Ecology is a small part of the type of gameplay that will be in this full online product. This multiplayer game will allow players to interact with one another in a safe environment while learning first about STEM, with additional subjects and enrichment to follow.