By Julie Tomascik
One Texas A&M University student developed an interactive game, CowSim, to introduce concepts of working cattle.
Nicholas Free, an animal science senior at Texas A&M, created a simulation game that may help others build and expand their cattle-working skills.
Although Free didn’t grow up handling cattle, he used the information he learned in his animal sciences courses and from hearing Dr. Ron Gill, Texas A&M professor and Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service livestock specialist, discuss proper cattle handling methods and techniques.
“I didn’t have much experience with livestock, but I understood the concepts immediately,” Free said. “I began thinking about how I could help people visualize the concepts without having hands-on experience.”
Free researched how to create video games in augmented reality.
His research and brainstorming with Dr. Luis Tedschi, associate professor for animal nutrition and Texas A&M AgriLife Research Faculty Fellow, led to developing CowSim.
The game simulation is separated into three parts.
The first section teaches the player how to behave in an open environment with cattle, and players learn the proper techniques for driving cattle in a production facility in the second section.
The final section of CowSim has players leading cattle through a facility with additional obstacles. This allows players to apply their knowledge learned from the previous sections.
“Overall, I feel very comfortable saying that if a person—who has never had any interaction with livestock—were to play this game, they would have sufficient knowledge on how to handle them by the end of the game,” Free said. “I hope we can start the process of interactive learning through simulation and games as a model to be used in the education system.”
Free created the interactive simulation game to focus on the best techniques to use when handling cattle. He said it benefits the students to learn how to remain calm when working with cattle. And, in turn, that benefits the cattle.
You can play the game online at https://freenicholas.wixsite.com/cowsim.
For more information about CowSim, email Free at email@example.com.