Wetlands Restoration Game
I think my time is precious. So much of it is taken up with applying for funding through grant-writing or writing final reports to funders, and when I’m not doing that I am generally scheduling or hosting educational programming. Needless to say that there is always something to do in the Wetlands Education Program. I am one of the last people I know who would ever recommend a computer game, and especially one on Facebook…this was until the University of Washington-Bothell came out with their innovative Wetlands Restoration game. If you have not yet seen or played the game, please do and visit the wetland I am building on my Facebook page!
In this game you are given land on the campus where you use money and volunteers to first build the swampy wetland- open water, ponds, snags, bird boxes, floating logs and all- and then plant it with native species. It is easy to go wild with the design and planting but you lose both money and man-power easily (don’t I know about this!), so you must host fundraising events in summer or convince your friends to play and give you gifts to keep up your restoration project and encourage plant biodiversity and incoming animals. There is also an option to buy more volunteers or money by donating to the university’s actual wetland restoration project…a worthy cause.
While I’ve not encountered the full complexity of the game yet (it lasts a full 25 days that represents 50 years!), I know that eventually I will have to manage invasive plant and animal species and trash, will win grant money and introduce animal species on site. I have at this point spent 1 year within the game constructing the site and mallards are already attracted to my design. Components of the game that interest me are the ways in which seasons govern the restoration work you do and how information on habitat design features and specific native plant and animal species are given on little cards and through pop-up Youtube video clips. The game is a real pleasure and is pretty close to what we experience not far North of the campus and program that have produced it.
The Wetlands Restoration Game is just a simplified taste of the real world work that will be covered in this summer’s 2012 BCWF Wetland Institute in the Sea-to-Sky Region. Now that is something to most definitely stay tuned for!
Other Online Wetland Games…
There are a few other educational computer games that you can try out online for fun: one of them is put out by Eco Canada’s Wetlands for Wildlife Game. It allows you to interact with a variety of professionals: from wetland biologists, to those with specialized cultural knowledge. You assist an environmental reporter in her tasks by learning about a wetland that is adjacent to a highway and golf course- photographing ‘specimens’, meeting people in the wetland and collecting objects. One of the interesting aspects of this game are the complexities that need to be negotiated within the wetland. You must consider the various agendas and perspectives of various individuals, such as in the case of a nearby gravel mine that upsets the biologists and first nations but not the developers.
Another game, Wild Wetlands, is for children. A time sensitive game where you quickly identify what doesn’t belong in a wetland (ie. trash, Purple Loosetrife, construction equipment…) and click on it to remove it from the wild wetlands in Stanley Park. In my opinion, online learning may be an important part of our new generation’s education on the importance of our wetlands, but it still cannot compare to just getting outdoors!