Everyone sets themselves pretty ambitious goals when a new year rolls around. This year, I decided to pick up a new hobby: birdwatching. It’s easy enough; I already spend a lot of time sitting and daydreaming, so at least this gets me out of the house to do the same thing with the excuse of watching birds.
Pausing to question whether it would be easier if I just took up this hobby virtually, it soon appeared that this would be, somehow, quite difficult. Despite there being games of every type under the sun nowadays, there don't seem to be any birding simulator games in existence.
With one exception. Birding Simulator: Bird Photographer, developed by T-Bull seems to be the closest thing in existence - but there hasn’t been an update on it for over two years now. And frankly, now I know it’s something I could’ve had - I’ve never needed a birdwatching simulator so badly,
What could’ve been
Birding Simulator, according to Steam, promises a world of beautiful and unforgettable adventures in birding, which labels the observation of birds in their natural habitat rather than an avery or zoo.
Photorealistic biomes are inhabited by a variety of birds from around the world to photograph, including species that you’d have to be incredibly fortunate to see in real life, making it perfect for those only used to a few species, and who are ready to be wowed by something more impressive than a Sparrow. This alone makes the concept of the game incredibly appealing, but there’s even more to Birding Simulator that makes me pine for it.
To make the in-game experience more immersive, you need to take into account your movement and noises so you don’t scare away the birds. It’s more realistic this way since one misstep and a twig snap have pulled me away from getting too close to something like a common Firecrest in real life, so I would only hope that this experience is replicated virtually.
One for sorrow
But that’s not all. There’s a deeper message here. Rather than just being an excuse to walk around and take photos of pretty animals such as in a game like Paradise Marsh, another wildlife photography-based game, there’s a purpose behind your actions according to the game’s Stem description. Birding Simulator planned to unveil a narrative about the protagonist developing a love for photography and the natural world, which then spirals into an ambition to save an endangered forest and, in turn, its inhabitants.
I think it's essential to spotlight this more meaningful message through the experience in such an environmentally-focused game. Because that's the reality of the situation. Birdwatching in real life is a fantastic chance for us to find new species we might never see otherwise, and to see beautiful species in their ‘natural’ (or as close as we can get to calling it 'natural') habitat.
So even though Birding Simulator has been too quiet for the last few years, Steam still lists this game as ‘coming soon’, giving me hope that it might still come to fruition. At this rate, any sort of potential support campaign in the future has my full endorsement. I’m just desperate for a game that lets me see birds outside of a woodpigeon. I just want to build a vibrant collection of birds I’ve seen, put pictures of them in a journal, and flick through it on the days when the grim weather here has birds hiding and the last thing I want to do is step outside.
If you’re looking for something slightly more fantastical to play solo, our guide to the best single-player games may be more of interest.
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Kara is an Evergreen writer at TechRadar Gaming. With a degree in Journalism and a passion for the weird and wonderful, she's spent the last few years as a freelance video game journalist, with bylines at NintendoLife, Attack of the Fanboy, Prima Games, and sister publication, GamesRadar+. Outside of gaming, you'll find her re-watching Gilmore Girls or trying to cram yet another collectible onto a shelf that desperately needs some organizing.