Human Evolution, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey, Patrice Désilets

Human Evolution, Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey

'Ancestors': A new game provides insights into how the first humans evolved

'Ancestors' is an open world survival game where you control a group of 'hominins' – our first ancestors – and explore, expand, and lock in new knowledge so your 'clan' can evolve. 😲

14.9.2019

'Ancestors' is an open world survival game where you control a group of 'hominins' – our first ancestors – and explore, expand, and lock in new knowledge so your 'clan' can evolve. 😲

The newly released ' Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey ' is an open world survival game where you control a group of 'hominins' – our first ancestors – and explore, expand, and lock in new knowledge so your 'clan' can evolve

eagles , crocodiles, hippos, hyenas, or a poisonous plant you try to eat. Even today, on safari or doing fieldwork, in these parts of Africa you can feel the continual threat of the environment around you. This is because humans are really weak when compared with other animals: we are not particularly fast and we have no natural weapons. Teamwork and technology are what allow us to thrive today, and the game tracks the start of our evolution from prey to the . Our ancestors gradually moved from forests to savannah and beyond. Panache Digital, Author provided This is where the novelty of the game comes in. For instance, it has a very cool mechanism of locking new knowledge into your synapses. All your exploring and encounters give you experiences that can be made into new skills – evolutionary changes such as tool making and team work, both essential to deal with nasty predators. But these new skills can only be locked into your clan’s “DNA” if you complete the task with a baby or an infant with you, which mimics the passing of knowledge between generations. Some early reviewers have complained it is hard to understand how to evolve. There are minimal instructions, the game is not linear, players are driven by their own curiosity, and different players will prioritise different skills and abilities. For example you can “win” the game and leave Africa without ever evolving to walk upright if you decide to prioritise other skills. But again, this is just like real life evolution, which has no direction and is driven by random events and encounters. However, there are already excellent walkthroughs available online so, to some extent, this gaming issue has been sidestepped by a unique human characteristic – teaching – and an innovation that came much more recently: language. But I really hope most players use these sparingly, as the joy of the game comes from discovering new things for yourself. TEAMWORK. To take on a rhino, you’ll need teamwork and tools. Panache Digital, Author provided One major reviewer complaint is that if your clan dies you lose everything – unlike many other computer games, there is no reboot. Patrice again put this in because it is exactly like reality. Evolution is full of dead-ends and new species which simply died out, such as the diminutive Homo nadedi in South Africa or Homo floresiensis in Indonesia, or the Neanderthals who only survive in European and Asian DNA due to briefly interbreeding with Homo sapiens as we emerged from Africa. For me, Ancestors provides a new and novel way of envisaging the past landscapes of Africa which our ancestors had to survive and thrive within. It portrays the danger of that landscape and how key attributes such as tool making and team work helped us cease to be prey and to become a feared predator that regularly took down giant mammoth after leaving Africa. It also provides a unique way of engaging a totally different audience in the excitement and intrigue of human evolution. For those of us who research early human evolution, this is an exciting moment, a game that illustrates all our research that anyone can play. I’m now looking forward to Ancestors 2, as once proto-humans have left Africa the real fun begins. The Conversation Read more: Rappler

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