Wolf Quest- A Howling Good Time

Wolf Quest- A Howling Good Time

A wolf and his mate howl in delight after felling a bull elk.

Emily Kline, Staff Writer

Instead of hitting the books to study for finals, Mr. Reiff’s Environmental Science class uses a teaching tool with a little more bite. Introduced in January, the game “WolfQuest,” a video game that puts players into the role of wolves in the wild, has already become popular among Reiff’s students and gamers in general.

“WolfQuest”, a joint effort between The Minnesota Zoo, Eduweb, and the International Wolf Center in Ely, Minnesota, was developed to provide a gaming experience that’s both engaging and educational for students. “The Minnesota Zoo came up with this idea of having a role-playing game using wolves where the whole goal is to start your own pack. I actually applied for a position with the development team back in 2007,” said Reiff.

The game offers two downloadable episodes, the second of which convinced Reiff to begin using them in class. “Amethyst Mountain” introduces players to hunting prey with the ultimate goal of finding a mate, while “Slough Creek” expands on the first with the ability to raise pups, fend off predators, and establish territory. “[Slough Creek] was just more realistic and added more facets to the game than the first episode. There were more choices to be made,” said Reiff.

As part of the Environmental Science class’s preparation for finals, Reiff assigns students worksheets to be completed along with in-game accomplishments. “We review for the final with ecological ideas we’ve learned, like food webs and trophic structures. [Students] need to play this game through the eyes of an environmental scientist, not a gamer trying to defeat the game,” said Reiff.

Students accepted “WolfQuest” almost unanimously, and the game has found an audience both inside the classroom and out due to its addictive gameplay. “I like it because it’s something way different than what we’ve ever done before,” said junior Hannah Haughey.

The popularity of “WolfQuest” and its combination of learning and fun could potentially open the door for future use of video games in other classes, though Reiff admits it would take a lot of research to find the right game. “I think it’s a good idea if the games actually teach something about the subject. Otherwise, no,” said senior Reilly Dillon.