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Virtual Villagers
SCREENSHOTS

Virtual Villagers

9/15/2006

20.00

The Bottom Line
A simple life simulation that teaches kids about what is necessary to survive.
The game starts with a small tribe of seven people arriving on the island of Isola, the only survivors of a volcano eruption. Your role is to manage these survivors as they evolve into a thriving village of 90 people. The villagers will need to find food and housing, develop technologies, fight disease, and mate. You direct each villager to develop a specific skill, work with others to survive, and eventually explore the island to discover its 16 mysteries.
You control the activity of a villager by selecting a preferred skill from a list that includes builder, farmer, researcher, breeder, or healer. Villagers with an assigned skill will initiate tasks relating to that skill set. You can also pick up villagers by left-clicking on them and then dropping them at a job site to teach them a new skill. For example, early on in the game before villagers have learned to grow their own food, they will need to forage for berries. If you place any villager, regardless of designated skill, in front of a berry bush, he or she can learn to pick the fruit.
Researchers play a crucial role in this game because the only way your society can progress is by earning “tech points.” Teaching villagers to research, an event that happens when you place them in front of the research table, earn tech points. With your tech points you can improve your villagers’ ability to farm, construct, reproduce, heal, and become spiritual.
Accumulating food points is another element crucial to survival. One tester lost the game early on because she grew her population too quickly without providing for enough food.

What makes Virtual Villagers unique is that it runs in real time. Even when you have quit the game, your villagers keep living unless you “pause” the game. It isn’t a game that you play all at once. Instead, you fiddle with it for about 10 minutes at a time, then let the villagers get on with their lives until the next time you want to peek in.
Managing this virtual world isn’t difficult; it just takes patience. It will take hours for your villagers to build huts so that their population can grow, and days before your villagers will learn to fish.

One of the things that will keep you coming back is trying to figure out the island’s 16 mysteries. Villagers will be curious about certain things, like a rock blocking a cave’s entrance; but it is up to you to figure out how to unlock each mystery.

Parents will want to know that villagers can die; and when they do, they litter the ground with their skeletons. Eventually, your villagers will learn to bury their dead in a graveyard. Parents of young children may also want to discuss the mating aspect of the game. Sometimes villagers will kiss and then go inside a hut. When they emerge, occasionally a baby will magically appear in the woman’s arms. You can also pick up villagers and drop them on top of another villager to see if they like each other. If they do, they will kiss and go inside the hut. If they do not, one will run away. One mother whose children played Virtual Villagers handled this behavior by explaining that the villagers go inside the hut to discuss their compatibility.

By playing Virtual Villagers, kids will think about life in terms of what is necessary to survive. They will learn that people need shelter, food, healing, and the ability to reproduce. And to better their lot, they need to be creative and scientific. It’s a perspective that many young people may not have thought about before playing this game.

All tech products are judged on a five star scale by looking at the following factors: fun, education, ease of use, value, and technical.

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Virtual Villagers
Company: Last Day of Work
Price: 20.00
Platforms: Mac
Win