14 Apr 2022
14 Apr 2022

The perception of palaeontology in commercial off-the-shelf video games and an assessment of their potential as educational tools

Thomas Clements1,, Jake Atterby1,, Terri Cleary1,2, Richard Dearden1, and Valentina Rossi3,4 Thomas Clements et al.
  • 1School of Geography, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, B15 2TT, UK
  • 2independent researcher
  • 3Museo di Scienze Naturali dell’Alto Adige, Bolzano, 39100, Italy
  • 4School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University College Cork, Cork, T23 TK30, Ireland
  • These authors contributed equally to this work.

Abstract. Video games now comprise the largest sector of the media entertainment industry. Hundreds of video games, spanning a huge variety of genres and platforms, use extinct animals and/or palaeontological themes as a basis for their gameplay. Because of this, many players, especially children, spend long periods of time engaging with, and immersed in, palaeontological concepts and themes. Indeed, video games may be the first medium of implicit or tangential science communication they engage with, especially with regards to palaeontology. However, commercial off-the-shelf video games are not primarily designed to be educational tools, and the proliferation of some common tropes can disseminate harmful and/or unethical (mis)information regarding palaeontology. This paper introduces the major types of palaeontological video games and discusses their educational potential. Moreover, we highlight the most common palaeontological tropes observed in video games, both positive and negative, to better inform science communicators about the perception of palaeontology (and ancient animals) in this massively influential medium. Furthermore, by highlighting common misconceptions and harmful tropes we aim to bring awareness to game developers who may be unaware that they could be propagating negative tropes about palaeontological science.

Thomas Clements et al.

Status: final response (author comments only)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • RC1: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-84', Flavia Strani, 02 May 2022
    • AC1: 'Reply on RC1', Thomas Clements, 04 Jul 2022
    • AC4: 'Reply on RC1', Thomas Clements, 04 Jul 2022
  • RC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-84', Elsa Panciroli, 03 May 2022
    • AC2: 'Reply on RC2', Thomas Clements, 04 Jul 2022
  • RC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2022-84', Andrea Villa, 03 May 2022
    • AC3: 'Reply on RC3', Thomas Clements, 04 Jul 2022

Thomas Clements et al.

Thomas Clements et al.


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Short summary
Video games are the largest sector of the entertainment industry and often contain ancient animals (e.g. dinosaurs) and/or fossils. This may be the first or only exposure gamers have to palaeontology and it provides a useful starting point for science outreach. However, video games are not typically designed to be educational. We investigate the use of palaeontology in video games and highlight common tropes that may mislead the public and skew their perception of palaeontological science.