I like to cover a wide variety of art forms on this blog, including electronic arts. Computer games have come a long way in the last twenty years, and now cover a wide variety of themes and subject matter, including nature.
Swedish game developer Toca Boca is known for creative and immersive games that foster open play. Their latest app is called Toca Nature, and it lets the user create their own virtual world of mountains, trees, plants, and animals. I tried it out for the first time today, and found it an engaging experience.
The graphics are simple and stylized, but the 3D environment allows for real-time exploration of your world. Much of the fun comes from flying over the hills and valleys you created, watching rabbits, bears and other creatures eat, sleep, and explore. You can also collect food to feed the animals and watch them grow. There is a camera to take snapshots as you explore.
The animation can be a bit awkward at times, with animals not always walking solidly on the ground, often passing right through trees and plants. And I found myself wishing for a little more to do in my newly-constructed world.
Still, as an immersive environment that lets children play with nature in a different way, it’s a fun and appealing experience. And if it makes kids want to go out and look for a real fox in the wild, so much the better.