As part of our drive to raise money for Shropshire Wildlife Trust in our Wild 20th birthday year, we took our challenge indoors and participated in a ‘marathon’ of a different speed.
The aim of our Gamethon was to not only raise money, but encourage us to slow down, take a breather and get the most out of our downtime. As an online agency we also wanted to show that you can find connections with the environment even in digital spaces. We did this by playing games that are inspired by nature and animals, even playing some games that help to produce data for real scientists.
Nature Fighting Back
Kev, one of our Senior Designers, chose The Last of Us, a game set in a post-apocalyptic America being reclaimed by nature. In the game you fight your way through crumbling, plant entwined infrastructure, on a journey to try and save humanity from extinction. Kev told us:
“What makes this game special is the way it pauses to give you time to appreciate not just the story and the visuals but also the implications of our actions. The way the world fell apart is pinned on a simple gene mutation in a common fungus that was forced to adapt due to climate change. This made it possible for fungus to infect people and the rest is what we’re presented with here.
“Throughout the game we see how animals have taken back the streets, similarly the real world situation during lockdowns. We also gain insight into how decreased human activity could allow nature to reclaim and dismantle our buildings, and we see a lot of fungi! The giraffe scene is a particularly special moment.”
Real World Issues
Russell, Head of Digital Marketing played a few shorter games, including Plasticity, Climate Quest, and NeMo Net. The first of these is an emotional, story-driven game built by students wanting to highlight the issue of plastic pollution, and comes highly recommended. Russell’s next pick, Climate Quest, wasn’t such a hit, although he did learn that sea acidification can affect the development of the shells of shellfish.
For Russell’s last stretch he picked up NeMo Net, a game developed by NASA to help classify corals. Russell writes:
“The insanely cool thing about it is that you're literally helping NASA scientists catalogue coral. You're given a series of 3d models of the seafloor and you have to colour in what's coral and what's not. That's it really!
“All this is helping to train a NASA supercomputer that will ultimately be able to automate this process. But given that so little of the ocean floor is currently mapped, gamifying the process and using volunteers is a smart move.
“The data will be used to understand the effects of climate change, pollution and overfishing on coral reefs around the world. If you want a relaxing experience that's doing some real good, this is for you.”
A Delicate Balance
Richard, our Senior Digital Marketing Specialist, decided to dive into Subnautica for the Gamethon. Subnautica is a game that blends relaxing environments and gorgeous visuals with some frankly terrifying creatures and a growing sense of unease.
In the game, you crash land on a planet that’s predominantly covered in water. The main story is partly about curing a local infection that resulted in the planet’s quarantine. Through this, and other gameplay elements, the game shows its ethos - that working against nature and exploiting natural resources for progress is damaging and dangerous.
While set on a fictional alien planet it’s still easy to draw parallels to our own world. We all know how important the ocean is ecologically, and there’s a high cost of not looking after what we have. However, it’s easy to get lost in the negatives when there’s so much positivity to be drawn from nature. Subnautica strikes a balance here, bringing in both environmental factors, and the beauty and serenity of the natural world.
To see what else we played, check out the gallery below!
You can still donate to our JustGiving fund here to help us reach our fundraising goal for the Shropshire Wildlife Trust.
Want to know more? Get in touch :)