Conservation Crisis | New game app now in stores

Step into the shoes of a conservationist tasked with saving an endangered species from extinction in Conservation Crisis, a game with a purpose where you play to save wildlife. It is a lesson in real-world conservation efforts, requiring you to think quickly and develop the right strategies to save a species from extinction.

Tunza Games, a social enterprise, aims to mobilise millions of wildlife lovers around the world to help protect endangered species with the release of their new game Conservation Crisis. In the game, players are challenged to take control of a wildlife reserve in crisis and rescue an endangered species from extinction.

Conservation Crisis is available on both the Android and Apple stores and is free to download for a 48 hour trial period and then costs £2.99 to buy. The game comes with six endangered species to protect, but also offers in-app purchases of more wildlife species for players to save. All purchases will be helping to protect wildlife in the real world as Tunza Games uses a share of its revenues to fund conservation projects, creating what the company calls a ‘play-to-save’ model for conservation.

THE NEED

Dr Richard Milburn, Co-founder of Tunza Games: “The inspiration for creating the Conservation Crisis gaming app came on my most recent visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo. I was sat with John Kahekwa, a great friend and leading gorilla expert, looking out over the wealthy suburbs of Bukavu, the local town. John pointed at the luxury houses and told me, ‘All of this money comes from the coltan mining they do here, which does so much harm to the environment. This is the problem – those who destroy the environment get rich, while we who protect it remain poor.’

“Coltan is used in electronic devices, it’s in all our phones and tablets. While the issue of coltan mining deserves attention and action by all involved stakeholders, my co-founder Ed Gilhead and I strongly felt the need to do our bit to raise awareness and help people like John to save his beloved gorillas. We took my expertise in conservation and Ed’s knowledge of gaming and created something exciting and educational. Making the game into an app means people can play the game anywhere in the world and we can then use a share of our revenues from the game to fund conservation projects.”

HOW THE GAME WORKS

Everything in the game is based on real-world conservation, offering players a unique insight into the challenges faced by those working on the frontline to protect wildlife. Players are given a limited budget each round and have to decide how to spend it: supporting local communities around their reserve to improve conservation; hiring vets to ward off disease; training rangers to protect wildlife from the poaching militia roaming the area; or building tourist lodges to generate more revenue for their reserve. Everywhere you go there are tricky twists and turns, which means you have to constantly assess your risks and rewards.

To add an extra layer of reality to the game, there is also a checkpoint where players have to choose to wait for two turns or to pay a ‘bribe’ to the local poaching militia to get straight through. Waiting slows players down, just like in real life, but those who pay the bribe must take a ‘bribe card’, which leads to problems later in the game; the aim is to show how and why corruption is such a problem for wildlife conservation.

Players can play solo or with family and friends, undertaking an ‘official mission’ to save their favourite endangered species.

PARTNERS

Wildlife around the world are faced with the threat of extinction, with many species on the IUCN’s Red List of critically endangered species. Tunza Games is working with nine charities to help protect these critically endangered species.  As coltan is mined in Congo and threatens gorillas, a significant focus of the company is working to protect those animals, supporting the GRACE Gorilla orphanage, the Pole Pole Foundation through the Wild Frontiers Foundation, and the Gorilla Organisation, three of the world’s leading gorilla conservation charities working in Congo.

WHAT MAKES THIS GAME UNIQUE

The game is based on real-life conservation, giving players the choices and trade-offs that conservationists themselves face each day in their struggle to protect wildlife. The designer behind the theme of the game has a decade of experience in conservation, with the last five years spent completing a PhD in the topic at King’s College London and working with a gorilla conservation charity in the Democratic Republic of Congo, providing an expert insight into wildlife conservation.

Conservation Crisis combines the feel of traditional board games that many people will have grown up with even if they are not passionate gamers, such as Risk, Monopoly and Game of Life, but uses modern gaming mechanics to improve gameplay. The designer of the mechanics has spent years playing and developing games, bringing a wide knowledge and experience to convert a realistic theme – conservation – into a fun and challenging game to play.

Tunza Games has worked with the Roller Agency to convert the board game into an app, using Unity software to create a fluent online gaming experience in both single- and multi-player modes. The game is available on both Android and iOS stores, and can be played on phones or tablets, making it a great game to play on a commute and also a great game to play at home with family and friends.

There is a growing tech for good movement, using technology in a plethora of ways to seek to make the world a better place. Tunza Games is using the gamification of important issues such as the plight of endangered wildlife to engage people in wildlife conservation, offering an innovative and positive way to inspire and empower people to help make a better world through their use of technology.

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