Can video games be a solution to help raise awareness for wildlife conservation?

Nowadays, it is somewhat unusual to find a house with young people that doesn’t contain an Xbox, PlayStation or some other games console. With gaming being such a popular leisure activity, I believe there is room to help raise awareness of conservation issues through popular gaming platforms.

Last year the online game, Runescape, teamed up with charity organisation United for Wildlife to help raise awareness of the threats to Rhinos as a result of the illegal wildlife trade. Runescape is a massive MMORPG which has millions of players logging on from all over the world and as part of the campaign you could adopt your very own in-game pet Rhino! For users to do this they were required to first listen to some facts about ivory poaching and then answering a series of 14 questions about Rhinos set by two in-game conservationists voiced by real life conservationists Trang Nguyen and Mauricio Guerra.

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The Black and White royal rhino in-game pets.

When I first heard about this announcement I was really interested to see if the campaign had been effective. As soon as I logged into the game I was delighted to see so many animated rhinos following many of the players. This gave me hope that the message must be spreading to people who otherwise might not be aware of these kind of issues. By adopting either a white or a black rhino means players can gain more experience to help enhance their game. As this is very appealing to any regular player I was not surprised to see a large number of people with their own adopted Rhinos. I couldn’t help but smile at the thought that so many people will now have a basic understanding of the issues related to the illegal wildlife trade, if they didn’t have before.

Earlier this year, Runescape this time teamed up with the World Wildlife Fund to help raise awareness for endangered big cats using a similar method to the Rhino campaign.

I hope that this method will be used more in the future with various other popular gaming sites. This is a fantastic idea for raising awareness that could potentially reach millions of people across the world. In modern times gaming has such a huge influence, particularly on the lives of young people and so it gives the perfect opportunity to help educate these young people in these very important issues that they should definitely be made aware of. It would be nice to see more of these games using their huge fan base to help raise awareness of the real world conservation issues that we see today!

 

Acknowledgements:

1. United for Wildlife. URL: http://www.unitedforwildlife.org/#!/home

2. Runescape. URL: http://www.runescape.com/

3. Images screenshot from Runescape

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