Poll and Discussion: Increasing the age of Wolfquest users

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Should the target audience of WolfQuest be increased?

Yes
8
36%
No
14
64%
 
Total votes: 22

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Poll and Discussion: Increasing the age of Wolfquest users

Post by Lebron BMT » Sat Aug 12, 2017 10:59 am

This is the full poll question (it's too long for the poll question): Should the target audience of WolfQuest be increased to some age range the devs determine appropriate?

What do you all think about increasing the target audience age for the game? Right now the target audience is still 9-13, but as far as I can tell the very youngest users are 13 at the lowest, and the oldest users are nearing 30. The devs probably have a better idea of the age of the userbase. The game was originally built with a very young audience in mind, and because of that (and other reasons) the emphasis has always been on providing scientifically accurate gameplay that can be educational. However, there is a point where the concern about younger players starts to takeaway from the game, and this will probably become more of an issue as we move closer to pack life episodes and updates. In WolfQuest right now, we see:

1) Ripped open elk carcasses with details like blood and ribs visible
2) Players can kill cute animals like hares and foxes
3) Players can be killed in numerous realistic ways (starvation, bears, cougars, shot by farmer, encounters with other wolves)
4) Player mates can be killed
5) Player pups can be killed and killed indefinitely
6) Player wolf's can have realistic (albeit aesthetic) injuries (limp, scars, torn ear)


I think we all understand that kids these days are not bothered by realistic gameplay, gore, guns, violence, monsters, zombies, or horror--games with these elements are often the most popular youth games! It is also apparent that the more mature content that is in WolfQuest currently is not causing complaints from younger users. Furthermore, in my view, attempting to educate people about wolves but downplaying or simply ignoring some parts of wolf life for age related reasons is counter-intuitive and does nothing to educate or help correct myths. I suggest a 13+ target audience, but that's just my suggestion.

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Re: Poll and Discussion: Increasing the age of Wolfquest use

Post by PearlyReborn » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:05 am

My brother has watched me play WQ ever since I started playing in 2013, at the age of five? He never seems too disturbed. I was also 10 when I started playing...


I think the game is fine. There isn't any gore beyond ungulate carcasses, and even that isn't too scary.


I think the game is fine. It's milder than most nature documentaries.
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Re: Poll and Discussion: Increasing the age of Wolfquest use

Post by Phasoli » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:14 am

I personally feel like the target audience can remain where it is. So far as I can discern, nothing drastic has been downplayed in relation to the basic element of a wolf's life. The carcasses now are a little more graphic, yes, but to me, they're still nothing short of what we've witnessed before. There were still blood and ribs and guts, but of course, it wasn't rendered quite as realistically as the current carcass models are.

The carcasses realistically portray the internal anatomy of elk and the order in which wolves and other predators typically consume the organs. In this aspect, the game hasn't downplayed this element of wolf life for the sake of younger audiences, and I doubt that they will downplay anything else in the future that may lead to a lack or realism, or unreasonable gameplay.

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Re: Poll and Discussion: Increasing the age of Wolfquest use

Post by PearlyReborn » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:20 am

Lebron BMT wrote:Player mates can be killed
Actually, it was changed so that your mate will go for food instead. I don't think your mate CAN be killed, and even when they could in 2.5, they respawned.
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Re: Poll and Discussion: Increasing the age of Wolfquest use

Post by Lebron BMT » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:23 am

@ PearlyReborn

Sure they can. Mates can die while hunting with you. Try killing a bull elk with your mate. Of course, they always respawn yes.

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Re: Poll and Discussion: Increasing the age of Wolfquest use

Post by PearlyReborn » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:26 am

Lebron BMT wrote:@ PearlyReborn

Sure they can. Mates can die while hunting with you. Try killing a bull elk with your mate. Of course, they always respawn yes.
I've tried to, but every time he wandered towards a carcass to eat. He CANNOT DIE. HE IS IMMORTAL
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Re: Poll and Discussion: Increasing the age of Wolfquest use

Post by paperpaws » Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:31 am

I understand the reasoning behind your desire for an older target audience, but I was wondering if there were any areas in particular you felt like deserve more attention?

Either way, although I can see the potential that making the game more mature would bring, I also do not think there is any need for it. In my own experience, plenty of older players appreciate the game and its educational intent just fine as it is now. Furthermore, the project has long established itself as being family friendly. I believe decreasing the demographic right now would lead to alienation of a significant part of the playerbase. If WolfQuest meant to be a more mature game perhaps in a similar vein to WOLF, it should in my opinion have been decided around the inception of the project.

That said, I wouldn't mind some "mature" alterations to the game, similar to the elk carcasses having been made more gorey. Essentially, I'd be in favour of any changes perhaps affecting the recommended/attracted age group rather than the other way around. There is no need to determine a more mature age group and making changes based on that when a change in playerbase can also happen organically through whatever the development team ends up incorporating.
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Re: Poll and Discussion: Increasing the age of Wolfquest use

Post by Neamara » Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:07 pm

Voting no -- I think the target audience is fine as-is. I was 15 when I found out about and started stalking WolfQuest. I was 16 when I joined and actually started playing the game both on and offline. Nothing about the game itself has ever bothered me aside from the occasional bad apple, but that's another matter. My cousins were around the age of 11-13 when I showed it to them and nothing about it bothered them either. As I see it, Eduweb have done and continue to do an excellent job with the development of this project.

Elk carcasses have always been fairly graphic with their stages of decomposition regardless of their new and improved model. Still, it is intended as an educational and mostly realistic game, so it is to be expected that you'd be killing things to survive or that your wolf will have received some indication of its survival in the form of injuries and scars. Nature is awesome, but it constantly proves that it can be harsh. Again, none of this has ever really bothered me, but I can and do understand that it isn't everyone's cuppa tea. I'm just speaking as a player from my own experience with the game.

Lebron BMT wrote:@ PearlyReborn

Sure they can. Mates can die while hunting with you. Try killing a bull elk with your mate. Of course, they always respawn yes.
Speaking from all of the time I've spent working on the Wiki, the mate in 2.7 cannot die, however it could die (and would respawn) in 2.5. As it is in the paid/updated game, it'll wander off and restore its health once it gets low enough before returning to you and resuming the fight. Even if you distract the mate by howling repeatedly during a risky activity, it will never die.
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Re: Poll and Discussion: Increasing the age of Wolfquest use

Post by Lebron BMT » Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:09 pm

@ Anduril
I was just thinking of WOLF actually.

I'm just thinking of the future of WolfQuest that's what inspired this thread. Looking at other games and wolf documentaries and imagining how WolfQuest can maybe get there one day. The other reasons for this thread are as follows: 1) I think the userbase has gotten older (I think 13-18 are the primary players now); 2) I don't think younger kids mind the harshness of wolf life at all in fact I think the age concern is more about the parents and the original grant WolfQuest started with that required the younger target audience rather than actual children playing WolfQuest who fear 'scary' things; and 3) I often see "think of the children" related claims as reasons for why WolfQuest animals such as other wolves and bears can't be made more aggressive--despite how much killing and gore is demonstrably already in the game.

I don't mean to cause a dramatic change now. I just want to start the dialogue because I think there will be a point where the devs will not be able to advance WolfQuest further and make it more realistic and more accurate without first overcoming the hurdle that is the target audience. Also, I'd like to take the temperature of the users. I don't think the users regardless of age are disturbed by wolf life--if anything people are intrigued and excited by wolves. I also don't want WolfQuest to one day finish and leave behind a game with a disney-esque picture of wolf survival. I think the original purpose of the game will be undone if that ends up being the case.
Anduril wrote: it should in my opinion have been decided around the inception of the project.
This is because the original grant required it. It's been 10 years now. The users, I imagine, have aged, and the funding is now coming from those users. The users of today should decide the future of WolfQuest I think.
Anduril wrote: That said, I wouldn't mind some alterations to the game
Andruil wrote: There is no need to determine a more mature age group and making changes based on that when a change in playerbase can also happen organically through whatever the development team ends up incorporating.
Yeah, I'm just trying to take the handcuffs off the devs, and seeing if the users support that. The devs won't be able to adapt to changes to the playerbase if WolfQuest is still officially targeting a different group.

Neamara wrote: I was 15 when I found out about and started stalking WolfQuest. I was 16 when I joined
The target audience is now 9-13. Like I suspected, the userbase is now generally older than the ostensible target audience set 10 years ago.

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Re: Poll and Discussion: Increasing the age of Wolfquest use

Post by paperpaws » Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:37 pm

Lebron BMT wrote:I don't mean to cause a dramatic change now. I just want to start the dialogue because I think there will be a point where the devs will not be able to advance WolfQuest further and make it more realistic and more accurate without first overcoming the hurdle that is the target audience.
Lebron BMT wrote:Yeah, I'm just trying to take the handcuffs off the devs, and seeing if the users support that. The devs won't be able to adapt to changes to the playerbase if WolfQuest is still officially targeting a different group.
I see. That makes a perfect amount of sense, especially in context with how long it has been since the requirements set by the grant (which I initially did not keep in mind). My only concern then would be, as I mentioned before, the possible alienation of part of the playerbase (or at the very least their parents, unfortunately). I believe that properly gauging the player base would be hard as well, assuming that a lot of the younger players are not involved in, or even aware of, any online discussions regarding the development of the game.

However, I do agree with (what I understood to be) your general argument of WolfQuest's development benefiting from not compromising on realism and scientific accurary for the sake of sticking close to a younger target audience. Again, I'd be in favour of a case-by-case assessment of individual additions and changes rather than a deliberate change in target audience, though - but I believe that that is also what you meant.
Last edited by paperpaws on Sat Aug 12, 2017 12:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: incomprehensible phrasing sorry
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Re: Poll and Discussion: Increasing the age of Wolfquest use

Post by Koa » Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:16 pm

This is an interesting thread but (in my opinion) one that is based on premature concerns that will just not come to fruition.

The target audience should remain the same regardless of graphical improvements, progression in mechanics of realism, or an aging player base. There's nothing in WolfQuest you wouldn't see in a program from Animal Planet-- and there's nothing more graphic than actual footage from real life. I've seen television nature programs marked as PG with the appropriate warnings, and rarely anything that notates itself as 14. In my opinion, changing the target audience for WolfQuest based *solely* on the potential areas of concern you listed seems unnecessary and much ado about nothing. (And surprisingly, you didn't mention any specific conerns about multiplayer-- you only vaguely mentioned an aging player base being an issue. If you had, I might have had to alter the way I approached this question.)

I'd recommend reading these past developer blogs for perspective.
http://wolfquest.org/wordpress/?p=16
http://wolfquest.org/wordpress/?p=8

1) Considering the game was designed to appeal to kids ages 9 to 13 because they stop going to zoos around that age, it doesn't make sense to publicly change the intended audience. The target audience, in the case of WolfQuest, is based on its goal. In theory, WolfQuest will maintain that goal despite "graphical improvements, progression in mechanics of realism, or an aging player base."
2) A parent/guardian can decide what is and isn't appropriate for their child age 9-13 despite "graphical improvements, progression in mechanics of realism, or an aging player base." WolfQuest doesn't need to undermine the role of the parent/guardian by changing the targeted audience for fear that the game is no longer appropriate for the original target audience. Really, the only solid concern from your list 1-6 is #1, and I've already addressed that in my first paragraph. Also, that's an obvious one for a parent/guardian to look at and consider whether or not WolfQuest is right for their child.
3) The issue of WolfQuest getting to a point "where the devs will not be able to advance WolfQuest further and make it more realistic and more accurate without first overcoming the hurdle that is the target audience" seems overstated. Honestly, I don't think this is going to happen, even if WolfQuest makes "graphical improvements, progression in mechanics of realism, or [acquires] an aging player base." I'll agree that first hypothetical concern you listed is justified if Dave suddenly comes along with plans for WolfQuest gore to become akin to The Revenant. The other hypothetical concerns you listed are important for a parent/guardian to acknowledge but really should have no bearing or substantial weight in determining WolfQuest's targeted audience; please see my second response.

I'm sure target audience is something the devs think about. However, I do not think it's something they really need to be worried about apart from a gameplay standpoint in that the game, through any developments, remains accessible to that targeted audience of 9-13 and does not become too challenging for said audience.
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Re: Poll and Discussion: Increasing the age of Wolfquest use

Post by valkea » Sat Aug 12, 2017 3:40 pm

In addition to the reasons stated above, I actually think it's quite important to keep the target audience where it is. After nearly 10 years of being active on these forums, I've seen firsthand how WolfQuest has affected the younger audience for the better, introducing them to a new interest or nurturing an existing interest that may in fact guide them through life (for example, guiding them towards a career they love but otherwise would not have considered) and I think it's important that this aspect of the project, both in the game and in the forums, is not lost. While raising the age to 13+ wouldn't remove this entirely, I think it would lessen the impact WolfQuest has on younger audiences.
I think we all understand that kids these days are not bothered by realistic gameplay, gore, guns, violence, monsters, zombies, or horror--games with these elements are often the most popular youth games!
While this may be true, I think it's also important to note that this is something that varies by individual and is not necessarily always connected to a player's age. There are plenty of people who are bothered by, for example, horror, of all ages, and the same can go for realistic gore. I don't think children playing WolfQuest should necessarily be sheltered from what may be considered "disturbing" elements of the game because of the focus on realism and education, however a blanket statement of "kids aren't bothered by gore these days" flat out isn't true because it does not apply to all children, or even all adults, and this is something that should be taken into consideration during development.

The amount of "mature" content in WolfQuest seems appropriate for the target audience and for older audiences, in my opinion, and increasing it would be unnecessary even if it didn't have the potential to cause problems. WolfQuest is not the only option for education about wolf life, so the aspects that players are not taught by the game due to being "mature" content can be learned from other sources if they are interested in learning more about wolves.
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Re: Poll and Discussion: Increasing the age of Wolfquest use

Post by loboLoco » Sat Aug 12, 2017 4:53 pm

The original project did focus on kids age 9-13. Couple reasons for that:
* That's when kids generally stop visiting zoos, so we saw the game as a way to extend their connection to zoos and nature centers.
* We'd done a lot of projects for that audience and felt we understood it well enough for this purpose.
* Frankly, we would have met a lot of skepticism (amongst ourselves as well as from NSF) if we'd claimed we could make a game that would appeal to teenagers.

Nobody was more surprised than us when teenagers *did* find the game appealing. Our demographic stats from the first four years of the project showed a pretty nice bell curve, with most players between age 9 and 17, peaking at 13 (but a bit thicker on the younger side) -- and a long tail extending into the 20s. We don't collect that info from players anymore, but I don't have any reason to think it's changed (except that long tail has certainly gotten thicker, which is gratifying.) I wouldn't extrapolate too much from who you meet in multiplayer games, as kids under 13 are limited to phrase chat in public games, and so are more likely to be in private games.

So now we say the game is for ages 9 and up. (I looked to see if it still said 9-13 somewhere, didn't find it, but if you've noticed that, please point me to it.)

The most significant thing that we exclude from the game due to the audience age is of course the act of mating, which we will continue to exclude. Certainly some players would like to see that added, but we won't do that for all sorts of reasons.

But in fact, we are really worried about one thing in this regard. Those new fawns and calves are so cute -- but as a wolf your job is to kill and eat them. We really do worry about how younger kids (and maybe some older players) are going to deal with that. That doesn't mean we're not adding fawns and calves, we're just not going to make those acts of killing and eating overly violent or gory. I honestly don't think that's a concession just for younger kids -- my hunch is that a significant percentage of our older players would not relish that kind of thing either. And that's not the kind of game I want to make anyways.

In short: We just want to make WolfQuest the best version of itself that we possibly can. We don't see age as a constraint on that goal.
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Re: Poll and Discussion: Increasing the age of Wolfquest use

Post by paperpaws » Sun Aug 13, 2017 3:37 am

As Dave has cleared up the development team's stance towards the matter and I have reason to believe the discussion was heading into a pointless direction, I will lock this topic for now. There might be room for more discussion on this topic in the future.
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