Invasive species can spread quickly and cause harm to native species, in some cases resulting in the eradication of entire native species.
The impact of invasive species can be difficult to illustrate. What if you can experience this firsthand as you play a game? We developed Invader Crusaders for ISCBC, an intuitive and educational web-based game.
Invasive Species Council of BC (ISCBC) is a non-profit society and registered charity pursuing a vision of healthy landscapes and communities free of invasive species.
As part of ISCBC’s educational and outreach efforts, ISCBC saw an opportunity to engage youth to learn about invasive species in a fun and interactive manner. They needed a development partner experienced in gamification and app development to take on this project. Given our portfolio in working with non-profit clients, ISCBC saw us to be the right fit.
We first started with a consultation meeting, which helped us identify the key goals of the project:
With a team of talented game designers, UI/UX designers, and developers, we brought the game idea of Invader Crusaders to life.
Stop the invasive species from spreading before it’s too late! Invader Crusaders is a simple, educational point-and-click game where you choose the best action to prevent the spread of invasive species before they get out of control!
How to Play!
Making learning fun
We first started by experimenting with different game designs. Initially, we designed the game with a core mechanic of identifying the type of invasive species.
However, to better meet the learning outcomes, we built upon this by focusing on a simple message behind the game that is memorable for the players: Invasive species can spread and cause harm to native species. To this end, players will focus on the goal of minimizing the spread of invasive species.
We learned a lot about invasive species throughout this project — as ISCBC are the experts in this subject matter, we worked closely with them to develop game events that are both relevant and interesting.
Frequent Communication and Feedback
One of the main success factors of the project lies in the communication that was maintained throughout the project between our team and ISCBC. To adapt to the situation of COVID-19, we met digitally online to provide ISCBC with updates to the project. We demonstrated mockups and prototypes early on, which allowed us to make UI and game design improvements while solidifying the vision of the game.
For example, we identified early on that the game should incorporate some of ISCBC’s core programs. From there, we organized the game’s levels to teach these programs incrementally.
Creating a Tutorial
As we conducted user tests with the target audience, there was one common learning. We discovered that the game would benefit from a quick tutorial level that teaches the player how to play. The player is aided by a series of popups that introduces each element of the game as they move along in the level. Not only are they able to learn from the tutorial level, but we also implemented it as a tooltip that can be easily accessed outside of the tutorial level.
Our efforts proved to be fruitful in realizing the vision of the project: We produced a beautiful, polished web game that is not only attractive and entertaining to play, but also serves to educate youth on invasive species.
The evidence? We listened to the feedback of our players. As we conducted further user testing with the game’s intended players, we received consistent positive feedback that the game had taught them something new about invasive species.
As players tackle the different levels, they quickly grasp the effective strategies when encountering invasive species that will help them win the level. That translates to knowledge that can be similarly applied in real world applications. The effectiveness of gamification is reflected in this project.
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