Augmented Reality game is designed to attract new audiences to urban National Parks
In the new mobile game WildSpot, a disturbance in the space/time boundry between Earth’s dimension and a neighboring one threatens to introduce unusual and potentially destructive organisms and phenomena to our planet. Fortunately, WildSpot players can locate, document and control these bizarre outbreaks before they destabilize our world.
Developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Institute for Learning Innovations (ILI) and Springtail Media, WildSpot is designed to encourage young adults living near urban National Parks, including Cabrillo National Monument, to visit the parks, explore them and maybe even sign up for local “citizen science” projects there— for example, the 24-hour BioBlitz happening April 29 – 30th.
“When Pokemon Go launched, National Park staff noticed new audiences visiting their parks, hunting Pokemon characters,” explains Bob Hirshon, head of Springtail Media, an AR game creator. “Some rangers and interpreters in these parks seized on these visits as outreach opportunities. So we thought, ‘why not create a game specifically designed to introduce players to the wonders of National Parks?'”
WildSpot has now launched in over two dozen sites around the country. In San Diego, the game begins in Balboa Park, with a game challenge called Fungal Rumble. Downloading the free WildSpot AR app from the Google or Apple app stores allows players to select the Fungal Rumble Quest, and navigate to the playing field. There, they find the WildSpot, deactivate its forcefield and open a portal into an alternate dimension. There they will encounter alien mushrooms and gluttonous space tourists known as Vores. Beyond the main playing field are WaySide Quests, that challenge players to investigate areas of scientific interest– including several at Cabrillo National Monument.
“The idea is that young adults play the primary game, become interested in the real-world challenges nearby, and eventually explore the more far-flung challenges over at the Park,” says Hirshon. “At the conclusion of each WaySide Quest, players get an invitation to actual citizen science projects, where they can help scientists conduct research.”
If successful, the game will expand into additional National Parks, Recreation Areas, Forests and Monuments nationwide.
WildSpot is part of the National Park Science Challenge project, supported by the National Science Foundation, project DUE #1713319 .