Back in the day, when I still didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up, my Dad suggested that I might make a career of being veterinarian. Being an avid reader and my experience with the veterinary practice being completely limited to seeing the minor maladies of our house pets being treated by the local practitioner, I decided to expand my research by voraciously reading the James Herriot “All Creatures Great and Small” and “All Things Bright and Beautiful” novels. Well, I enjoyed the books immensely, as did millions of other readers. But to anyone interested in becoming a veterinarian, they may as well have been titled “Long Nights and Long, Dung-Covered Arms” or “Long Nights, Awake and Working.” Not for me, mate. Give me a nice warm office-based nine-to-five, please.
I've made numerous other decisions of that variety, and as with many of the others, I've often pondered what might have been had I decided other than the way I did. I often ask myself “What would it have been like to be a <insert job description here>” as I've spent an afternoon in a non-productive hunt for an elusive and extraordinarily frustrating software bug. In these modern times, though, those questions can be answered to at least some degree through the use of computer simulators. What would it have been like to be a race car driver? Get a copy of rFactor and find out that it would have been very, very hard. Wanted to be an airline captain? Pick up Microsoft Flight Sim and see how you do on an 8 hour transoceanic slog. Thinking about being a veterinarian? Well, there's nothing out there with the same level of realism as the aforementioned titles, but there is Viva Media's Pet Vet 3D. Following in the footsteps of my father before me, I encouraged my daughter to take a look at it and share her findings in our previous review
of it, available for your perusal here.
The original version concerned itself with the types of animals that our family vet was exposed to, mostly of the dog, cat, and other snuggle little creatures variety, although animals as large as horses did show up and the door now and then. The series has expanded since then with the addition of Pet Vet 3D Animal Hospital Down Under. The “Down Under” part of the title is the critical differentiator, in that it refers to Australia. Not satisfied to drive on the wrong side of the road and have their toilets flush in the wrong direction (save your emails – I know this is a myth, but hey, you try writing these things if you think it's easy), Australians apparently also have a completely different menagerie for a veterinarian to know about. In Down Under, you, playing as a Barbie look alike veterinarian, will be diagnosing and treating such diverse members of the southern hemisphere animal kingdom as dolphins, seals, koala bears, kangaroos, and wombats. What? You don't even know what a Wombat is? That's OK, neither did I. The game will teach you, or at least provide you with the means to learn it yourself by offering informational books for sale that you can purchase out of your funds.
As with the first Pet Vet 3D, it takes more than just a knowledge of animals to succeed. Pet Vet 3D is also requires some degree of attention to be made to the growth and maintenance of the practice. This is true to life, of course, in that anyone one that wants to start their own business or practice of any type will have to be every bit as cognizant of the challenges of managing a business as they are at performing their professional tasks. As a parent, I think this is an appropriate thing for kids to learn, lest they ignore the business aspects of their educations, mistakenly thinking that all they really need to know are the parts that truly interest them. These things are included in Pet Vet, but not to the degree that they will scare off potential veterinarians at a young age. Complexities like paying payroll taxes, dealing with difficult suppliers, non-paying customers, and belligerent employees are thankfully excluded from the daily mix of chores. Dealing with balancing funds between growing the business and buying a $10,000 nightie (yes, that's actually in there, oddly enough) is a good lesson for the prospective independent business person to learn early.
The actual practice of diagnosing and treating animals in the game is very straightforward and will be easily grasped by the suggested age group of ages 8 and up. As the practice grows, new office and lab equipment can be purchased to help in the diagnosis. The typical workflow when presented with a new patient is to choose what type of procedure to do, and as each procedure is completed, select from the most likely presented diagnosis. It's not difficult, and it is actually pretty informative. Once a correct diagnosis is selected from the presented options, an explanation as to what causes the problem and what the best treatment is will be shown on the screen. Some maladies can be fixed right away and the patient can be sent home, but others require that the animal stay at the hospital for a few days. This requires that the veterinarian take good care of the guest critters by providing good food and clean lodging conditions, which ends up being yet another of the multitude of things requiring constant attention.
With the broad variety of activities and responsibilities for the vet to be aware of, Pet Vet is almost a Sims-like experience, with a useful amount of educational experience thrown in. I think it would be appropriate for any child that has an interest in animals, primarily of the mildly exotic type. The pace is fast enough to maintain their interest, without going too fast and risking them falling behind.
While Pet Vet 3D isn't as glossy and glitzy as similar titles like Viva Pinata, it offers much more educational vlaue with the same style of game play. There's certainly something to be said for having your kids know what a real life wombat or Koala is, rather than a fictional White Flutterscotch or Kittyfloss.
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