Digital Games and Biodiversity Conservation
Digital games play an important role in the lives of millions of people worldwide. The games industry is expanding rapidly, and games are developing in sophistication and complexity. Games (and gaming approaches to other activities) are increasingly being used for serious or social purposes in a wide range of fields, including biodiversity conservation. This paper evaluates the potential of “conservation games” (digital games that promote conservation). It explores ways in which conservation might make use of digital games in the areas of (1) education and behavior change, (2) fundraising, and (3) research, monitoring, and planning. It discusses the risk that games may distract gamers from the real world and its problems or provide misleadingly simple narratives about conservation issues. We conclude that there is great potential for conservation to take more advantage of digital games, provided that conservation games are developed in collaboration with game design specialists, have specific rather than general aims, target a specific and conservation-relevant audience, and (above all) are fun to play.