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September 4, 2019 5:06 AM   Subscribe

Birdspotting [YouTube][Game Trailer]
โ€œThe player explores a lush beautiful valley. Home of birds. Using an old binocular and journal you set out to spot the surrounding wildlife, discovering the local species and secrets hidden around the hills, rivers, and lakes. Through listening, observation, stealth, and timing the player strives to collect all species and their behaviors. Collect feathers, find nests and eggs. Endure the weather and uncover the hidden secrets of a Norway inspired scenery.โ€
Birdspotting, a new video game from developers Joram van Loenen and Khalil Arafan. [via: Vice Gaming]
posted by Fizz (36 comments total) 39 users marked this as a favorite
 
#walkingsimulator

I need more games like this in my life.
posted by Fizz at 5:14 AM on September 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


This is very much my jam. All I want to do in a video game is collect flowers and watch animals.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:21 AM on September 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


All I want to do in a video game is collect flowers and watch animals.

Stardew Valley, Animal Crossing, Rune Factory, My Time At Portia, are all games you should consider. They're a bit more "work" in the sense that resources must be grown, harvested, collected. So they're not as walking simulator-esque as the trailer up above, but if you're wanting some more chill games where you can just walk around and do what you want, these games are definitely going to be your jam.
posted by Fizz at 5:25 AM on September 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


This reminds me a lot of the excellent Walden (trailer) video game.

With that said, I'm going to be That Guy, and say maybe spend the $ on a pair of binoculars, maybe download the well done and free Audobon app and take a walk outside?
posted by gwint at 5:27 AM on September 4, 2019 [11 favorites]


Iโ€™ve had this theory that industrial media behemoths like Disney strive to create cradle to grave entertainment realities for their customers. An almost but not quite subscription business that endures for a lifetime. Wonder at and education in the language of entertainment and tropes that gives way to rebellion against same (embedded in more reliable entertainment structures), which eventually settles down into seriousness of purpose and thence into easy nostalgia. Trace the career of Disney princess Miley Cyrus: sheโ€™s cleared rebelliousness and now looks to be moving into seriousness.

All of which is to say... this game strikes me Animal Crossingโ€™s trip through Seriousness. Or maybe Nostalgia.
posted by notyou at 5:38 AM on September 4, 2019


With that said, I'm going to be That Guy, and say maybe spend the $ on a pair of binoculars, maybe download the well done and free Audobon app and take a walk outside?

I'm gonna be That Other Guy who reminds you that there are a lot of folks for whom your suggestion is totally unworkable, for reasons ranging from mental to physical health and beyond. There's room in the world for multiple methods of experiencing the wonders of nature. There's always someone who chimes in with some version of "JUST GO DO THE REAL THING GOSH" and it is so so tiresome.
posted by lazaruslong at 5:52 AM on September 4, 2019 [22 favorites]


As evidenced by my recommendation of both a video game and an app within my comment, I'm obviously not trying to be an absolutist against mediated experiences. But compared to say, simulating building a city, or flying a starship, or killing a bunch of people on an island while the radius of a killer dome constricts around you, bird watching in real life is quite accessible.
posted by gwint at 6:03 AM on September 4, 2019


But compared to say, simulating building a city, or flying a starship, or killing a bunch of people on an island while the radius of a killer dome constricts around you, bird watching in real life is quite accessible.

Speaking as someone who was about to be That Guy and say "why not do it in real life" - lazaruslong's comment reminded me that "oh yeah, what about people who maybe are not able to walk or have severe health issues or things like that" and I realized I was too hasty.

Bird watching in real life is quite accessible if you are able to get outside. If you're not - there's this. Especially if you used to be able to get outside and maybe even were into the real thing for a while, but health challenges have prevented you from carrying on, this could be a comforting replacement.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:07 AM on September 4, 2019 [13 favorites]


Also, sometimes it's cold or rainy or, you know, nighttime, and you just want to get your birdwatching on.
posted by Ben Trismegistus at 6:09 AM on September 4, 2019 [6 favorites]


bird watching in real life is quite accessible.

I understand that your comment was not meant with any malice but it still comes across as insensitive as there's a whole community of people (many who are on this site) who for various reasons cannot or choose not to go outside. This game (and video games in general) are an opportunity for them to still connect with nature in a way that is safe and accessible.

Getting back to the game itself. I am getting some strong Everybody's Gone to the Rapture and Dear Esther vibes. Though without the mystery/paranormal/horror elements.
posted by Fizz at 6:18 AM on September 4, 2019 [5 favorites]


maybe spend the $ on a pair of binoculars, maybe download the well done and free Audobon app and take a walk outside?

I've played that one. It's not bad, but it has problems. Technically a very impressive game, they really went all-out on the graphical realism, but maybe they went a bit too far. There are so many bushes, branches, fallen logs, leaves and stuff in the forests that you can't see very far and it's a pain to navigate. There's no fast travel, and it takes forever to get around. It's sort of a roguelike in that there's no save game, if you die that's it. The more rare birds are basically impossible to see, you could wander for weeks in the right general area and get nothing. That's fine if you just enjoy it as a walking simulator, I guess. It does have some really cool mini-games like tree-climbing to keep you engaged. Anyway, there's loads of room in the genre for more games like this.
posted by sfenders at 6:18 AM on September 4, 2019 [29 favorites]


This is my kind of game
posted by Chaffinch at 6:19 AM on September 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


Or maybe it would be nice for everybody who doesn't literally live in Norway to enjoy scenery inspired by it?

Virtual experiences aren't a substitute for non-virtual ones, but they're still real, and it's cool to have lots of different kinds of them. This one in particular looks to be a sort of jewelbox game, with a carefully composed environment that you're dropped into and get to explore. I don't really care about birds, but I do love games like that, which tickle the long-dormant Myst centers of my brain.

I have found through 35 years of trial and mostly error that going outside almost never lands me in a perfectly composed self contained environment where other people leave me alone and I get to see pretty pictures without getting tired.
posted by Mizu at 6:22 AM on September 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


At some point a couple years ago I was working long hours proofreading and then going home and playing The Long Dark, a Canadian wilderness survival sim, for long hours at night. And totally feeling the irony that this was my nature time...

I may have also spent a week at some point collecting bird photos in Breath of the Wild. So, yeah, my jam.
posted by kaibutsu at 7:17 AM on September 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Eek, this gives me the same eerie feeling as Myst except with added birds and I like it!
posted by ChuraChura at 7:20 AM on September 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


My partner and I are very casual birdspotters, more birdnoticers really, so of course I'm extremely looking forward to this game.
posted by tobascodagama at 7:43 AM on September 4, 2019 [4 favorites]


(And here's where I note that a LOT of people who play flight simulators are also licensed pilots, and many of them got their licenses because they enjoyed playing flight simulators and wanted to try flying "for real". The point that many people can't go out and physically birdwatch is by far more important, but also there's literally no reason you can't do both.)
posted by tobascodagama at 7:45 AM on September 4, 2019


Thanks for this!

I live in an urban area where I can see plenty of pigeons, little brown jobs, and the occasional red-tailed hawk as a special treat. And I swear I heard an owl around 4 am once. But that is about it for birds, unless I make a special trip. For someone, like me, who wants to take a greater interest in birding without being bored to death, this should be a lovely distraction.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:03 AM on September 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


On a lighter note - there's a naturalist who has a webcomic called "Bird And Moon", and she recently did a comic on "why birding is my favorite video game" (she also posts drawbacks).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:20 AM on September 4, 2019 [3 favorites]


Bird watching in real life is quite accessible if you are able to get outside.

I am lucky/determined enough to spend a lot of time outside, but I mostly just see a handful of different kinds of birds and other wildlife in my area, and it's fun to "visit" places that aren't easy to get to via video games.

Though for real life, I was super psyched to see a black-crowned night-heron hanging out in the exact same spot on a local creek for a couple of evenings running. (Did not know what it was until I got around to looking it up. Also my photos of it suck on account of it being, well, night.)

(About crafting games: do any of the people making them understand what metal smelting actually involves? It's sort of hilarious to me when I play these games that I'm basically turning these bucolic towns into toxic waste sites. Except that the pollution mechanic's not written into the game, so even my nearest neighbors don't seem worried that I'm poisoning them.)
posted by asperity at 8:38 AM on September 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


Finally a game I would buy VR goggles for.
posted by longdaysjourney at 8:52 AM on September 4, 2019


wondering what J. Odell, noted bird-noticer and IRL-theorist, would make of this...
posted by progosk at 9:47 AM on September 4, 2019


> sfenders: I've played that one. It's not bad, but it has problems.

And the NPCs cycle through their scripts way too often: "Hi, How are you?" "Nice day out, isn't it?" "Excuse me, I was standing there" and "Get off my land"
posted by Rock Steady at 9:50 AM on September 4, 2019 [7 favorites]


How long does the game make you grind before you get a gold plated machine gun?
posted by zzazazz at 11:06 AM on September 4, 2019


I do actual birdwatching but also enjoy things like bug-collecting quests in Zelda games, so Iโ€™m curious to try this.

I do get slightly depressed at the prospect of human ingenuity creating ever-more sophisticated digital recreations of wild habitats while the real thing is destroyed around us. But I feel that more strongly about something like the new Lion King movie than an indie game about birdwatching.
posted by Bloxworth Snout at 11:53 AM on September 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


For something a bit similar but without the lo-fi aesthetic, Eastshade may be worth checking out for anyone not familiar with it.
posted by juv3nal at 2:51 PM on September 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


Ohh, I want to love this so much, but the pixelation is putting strain on my eyes. :(

I have some friends who'll like this, though, so thanks for the post!
posted by lesser weasel at 5:46 PM on September 4, 2019


(In seeing my comment pop back up in Recent Activity, I realize I forgot my neighbors--a flock of wild turkeys who wander around this town with the impunity of a population that has never seen a legal gun owner. But they seem less like members of the local birdlife than small, fat Skeksis, and I didn't think of them in the company of things that flew.)
posted by Countess Elena at 5:57 PM on September 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


sfenders: I've played that one. It's not bad, but it has problems.

I've also heard complaints from higher-level players about some sort of pay-to-win mechanic involving the "air travel" minigame.
posted by pykrete jungle at 6:28 PM on September 4, 2019 [2 favorites]


It is interesting, though, as someone who will compulsively collect things in games, I've noticed myself spotting sparrows or squirrels, or occasionally more interesting songbirds, while playing Pokemon Go, and reaching for my phone when I see them, not to take a picture, but to flick a pokeball at them.

And it's moments like those that I wonder if I shouldn't graduate from a casual bird-noticer to an actual birder.
posted by pykrete jungle at 6:31 PM on September 4, 2019 [1 favorite]


Reminded me of people who go bird watching in Red Dead Redemption 2 and other games that are not primarily about watching birds. (With much less pixelation, lesser weasel!)
posted by Harald74 at 12:26 AM on September 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


Birdwatchers gotta birdwatch. In games, in movies, outside, feeder cams: it is all amazing because it is birdwatching. (Though the real life game has far too many rocks and branches that look like birds.)
Iโ€™ll definitely want to check this game out.
(Pykrete jungle, Iโ€™m the opposite and was interested in Pokemon Go because it reminded me of birdwatching!)
posted by sacchan at 4:30 AM on September 5, 2019


If you do want to play this game IRL, I recommend the iNaturalist app.
posted by tofu_crouton at 5:41 AM on September 5, 2019 [2 favorites]


If you do want to play this game IRL, I recommend the iNaturalist app.

Seconded!
posted by diogenes at 6:46 AM on September 5, 2019


This looks like a lot of fun. I am pretty low-key in my birding adventures, but even as someone who has easy access to birdspotting opportunities it's nice to get a change of scenery without having to work out farm-sitting plans, ya know?

And now I want to see a gamified version of @Afro_Herper's "Find that Lizard" tweet series, which is extremely popular amongst Nature Twitter.
posted by drlith at 7:09 AM on September 5, 2019 [1 favorite]


Reminded me of people who go bird watching in Red Dead Redemption 2 and other games that are not primarily about watching birds.

After a certain point in that long and dreary game, animal-spotting and plant-gathering becomes the only worthwhile pastime.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:28 PM on September 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


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