Discovering Nature through Mobile Gaming
Casual video games and nature outreach face similar challenges when engaging audiences, and may have much to offer one another from within their respective realms. The aims of this project were to examine casual mobile video games as a means of encouraging engagement with nature, as well as whether factual content has a place within the non-serious gaming industry. This was achieved through two studies using the commercially successful free-to-play game Flutter: Butterfly Sanctuary. Quantitative player metrics and qualitative self-report methods drew results from over 180,000 active players and were used to assess engagement through sub-factors relating to learning and interest. While a direct measure of learning remained elusive, an analysis of metrics results revealed players to be performing very well at identifying species within the context of the game. Supporting survey analyses revealed Flutter to extend interest in butterFlies beyond the game with some groups. Additional results revealed players to be engaging with the factual content, and identifying it as a positive factor when making decisions about sharing and spending. It was also revealed that many players had difFiculty distinguishing non-factual from factual elements within the game. On the basis of these results, I conclude that games like Flutter may help sustain engagement with real world content, which in turn can be responsibly utilised by game developers to engage and offer depth to their audience.
Advisor: Longnecker, Nancy; Bishop, Phil
Degree Name: Master of Science Communication
Degree Discipline: Zoology
Publisher: University of Otago
Keywords: nature; engagement; young adult; Flutter: Butterfly Sanctuary; video games; awareness; interest; outreach; player metrics; learning; commercial gaming; mobile technology; public engagement; computer games; entertainment; casual games; free-to-play; butterfly
Research Type: Thesis