A fun competition to help save life on earth
Could playing a game on your mobile phone help protect life on earth?
That’s the idea behind the First Ever World BioQuest, a global competition launched by an Australia-based mobile gaming venture. The competition, held May 20-22, commemorates the International Day of Biological Diversity and involves over 30 different environmental organisations.
People of all ages, in 14 different countries, will get outdoors and use their mobile phones to find and photograph as many species of life as they can - with prizes for the winning participants.
Using an app called QuestaGame, competitors will submit sightings of insects, birds, reptiles and any other type of life they encounter. Thousands of experts will be ready to help identify what’s found. (Players can earn bonus points if they identify the sightings themselves).
The more rare or scientifically interesting the sighting, the more points the game awards it. Vulnerable, threatened or endangered species, however, will not receive points, for their own protection.
The competition represents a new form of “citizen science,” where people who have little or no scientific training can contribute to scientific research. Through the QuestaGame app, players can easily share their nature photos with CSIRO’s Atlas of Living Australia and the Global Biodiversity Information Facility - the world’s premier collection of biodiversity records.
“The first step in protecting biodiversity is to map, as quickly and accurately as we can, what lives where,” says QuestaGame co-founder, Andrew Robinson. “To do this, we need more people outdoors getting to know the life around them.”
And what better way to achieve this than through a mobile game?
“It’s like Pokemon GO,” says QuestaGame player Rachel Lethem. “It encourages players to spend more time outside looking for unusual species, and it’s a great way to have species identified.”
The highest scoring player will be crowned World BioQuest Champion and receive a prize (TBA). Prizes will be awarded for other categories as well, such as the highest scoring individual sighting and the best photograph.
On top of the prizes and the contribution to science, the First Ever World BioQuest offers a unique opportunity for people to discover the wonders of life in their local environments.
“Many people don’t realise that only about 20 percent of life has been described by science,” says Robinson. “And there are creatures all around us that, when you look closely, are as astonishing as anything in a sci-fi film. Have you ever looked closely at a dragonfly? Sure, dragons are cool, but dragonflies are far more ferocious predators. Plus they can see in every direction and even fly upside down. They’re like something from another galaxy.”
Entry cost is $15, with concessions available, and a share of the proceeds goes to over 30 different environmental organisations.