by Howie Howard
previewed on PC
Simulators for everything
There is an abundance of simulators present in the world of computer gaming today. We have simulators about flying airplanes, simulators about managing and building cities, there's construction simulators, police simulators and on and on. Now we have a simulation that focuses on being a forest ranger with the task of saving a forest from evil trash throwing campers. Forest Ranger Simulator by developer Virtual Magic and publisher FreeMind S.A. is a game about forests and other things that might be associated with forests. Currently an early access game, Forest Ranger Simulator is expected for a full release in Q2 2023.
Forest rangers wear many different hats
Being a forest ranger in the real world requires a person to have a variety of abilities. Some of these abilities involve working to preserve public amenities – such as trails and campgrounds - from damage or illegal use. Forest rangers enforce law and order in the forest, and they act to protect wildlife. The protection of wildlife and forest conservation has to be the most important duty any ranger would have. Illegal hunting or poaching is an activity that most rational people should always be against. This game lets players chase poachers away, but that doesn't go far enough for me... Legal hunting is the best way to maintain the health of animal herds and wildlife. Real life forest rangers spend a lot of time enforcing hunting laws along with overseeing firearm safety and training. In its own way Forest Ranger Simulator attempts to educate players on the proper way to act while in the forest.
The management of the entirety of a forests ecosystem and environment is another important duty a ranger has. The simplistic task of picking up trash and putting out a fire with an extinguisher is not going to solve the loss of forested regions on earth. But at least it's a start and hopefully the game can bring attention to the need for forest conservation. Scientific based forest management and conservation needs to be undertaken and it is in many areas. The removal of dead and diseased trees and vegetation is actually the best way to prevent forest fires. Strategically harvesting and then replanting trees goes a long way to ensuring a healthy forest environment. Unfortunately, some areas of the world are more concerned with reaping economic benefits from forests instead of conserving them. Forest Ranger Simulator appears to want to serve as a way to bring awareness for the need for conservation.
What's the real story about forest rangers?
Forest Ranger Simulator might not tell the entire story about what being a forest ranger is all about, but at least it tries and that is a start. The developers apparently have a lot more content planned for the full release like driving a vehicle in to the woods to bring even more and bigger trash out. Its simplistic tasks are fun, and it does present the message that forests, and nature must be respected. Even with that said, Forest Ranger Simulator seems to be more like a forest ranger-lite game, or it could even be referred to as being a garbage collector in the woods simulator. Well, that seems to be the main focus right now in the preview version we played.
The game is billed as being an action, adventure, casual, educational, indie and simulation computer game that is suitable for all ages. Gameplay is based on tasks. Once you complete the first task of picking up and disposing of all metal and plastic trash around the ranger station, then it is off to place a beehive in a flower patch and fill a bird feeder with seed. Of course, as you go along, the tasks become a bit more involved. As an example, one of the later tasks in the preview version had me finding and disposing of animal traps. In order to make things be a bit more difficult the developers try to hide the traps, so you have to look at and under everything.
One man's trash is another man's treasure
Once players clean up the specified trash from an area and throw the various trash in to the different coloured bins, players begin accumulating small amounts of money. The money goes into your account, and you can spend the cash on items that are found on an auction site on the computer in the ranger cabin. The computer auction is where you find different items that are needed to complete tasks such as a crowbar that is needed to spring traps. The reward for disposing of a trap can then go towards further purchases. You can also try to sell items such as electronic devices on the auction. In effect, selling puts a different spin on the disposal of items in that selling or recycling to re-purpose items that people leave behind might be better than throwing it in a landfill.
There is a whole lot of garbage moving, sorting, dumping of trash and the throwing of some 150 different varieties of garbage in to six different colored bins. You can build a Statue of Liberty entirely out of, you guessed it, trash! I remember seeing a place called Mount Trashmore when I drove through the state of Virginia and that was fine, but I can't envision a Statue of Liberty made out of garbage, but the game gives players that option.
If you bring it in, take it out when you leave
Forest Ranger Simulator is a game about saving nature with the focus being to save forests. But from the preview version we played, the game has you primarily picking up and sorting trash to keep the forest clean. Then it's on to putting a small fire out all the while observing and watching nature. You may remember the old TV ads with Smokey the Bear saying "Only you can prevent forest fires!" and it is a similar message that is being depicted here. We are the ones that need to learn the proper way to treat our forests and wildlife. In fact, we all need to go by the credo of "If you bring it in to the forest, then you take it out with you when you leave." Forest Ranger Simulator serves not only to entertain, but to help educate its users, especially children on the need to practice good housekeeping while in the woods or forest.
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