Ora – Save the Forest!

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Can you save the forest from hungry invasive pests?

Underpinned by a scientific model, and featuring real tools and techniques, Ora – Save the Forest! lets players develop their own approaches to this difficult ecological problem, improving public understanding and crowd-sourcing information to improve future policy making.

Clients: Landcare Research, Department of Conservation.

Ora – Save the Forest! is set in the forests of New Zealand, educating players about the myriad challenges of managing invasive species in a fragile ecosystem. Inside Ora, players plan and execute campaigns to control pest numbers, monitor ecosystem health, or just explore the forest. Real-life data and scientific models underpin the gameplay, allowing decades of dynamics to be reduced to hours or minutes, bringing perspective and personal association to the ecosystem. Players’ actions earn Science Points that move the Hatch O’Meter one step closer to hatching native birds for release into the forest, while captured pests pile up in a storage facility that could explode at any minute, triggering a mini-game!

Ora is part of a research programme aimed at increasing community participation in pest management decision-making. For the public to engage in an informed way, they need to understand the problem and the options for managing it. Ora is designed to make it personal – it’s your forest, what do you want to do? Players’ strategies will be tracked, analysed and fed back into scientific research, crowd-sourcing solutions for real-world problems, and giving players the potential to influence management and policy in the real world.

The first user studies for Ora were completed in December 2013, and compared the experience of two sets of participants: one group playing Ora, and a control group who worked with the underlying scientific models in a classroom environment. Preliminary analysis suggests that both groups had a more positive perception of pest control four weeks post-study, but Ora players retained more information about pest impacts than classroom participants.

The game design reflects four years of doctoral research into gameflow delivery by the lead game designer, drawing together the theories of skilled performance, motivation and flow for a more engaging player experience, while cutting edge pest management and forest research has been integrated to create the underlying models.

Ora – Save the Forest!  www.playora.net

Developed by ©driedfrog 2016.