For most people, it’s a given that conservation and environmentalism are important. Also for most people, they aren’t really a priority—we dutifully recycle our water bottles when it’s convenient, sure, or we might drive to the recycling center in our plug-in hybrid. But beyond simple things, it’s hard for most of us to be enthusiastic about conservation efforts. At Hardshell Labs we think the problem is that environmentalism and conservation just aren’t all that much fun. So we’d like to change that.
Our long-term goal is to develop video games which actually make a real-world, real-time impact on the health of the planet and its inhabitants. That will naturally lead to engaging more people in environmentalism and to the development of new and interesting tools for conservation and science. When people gain a strong connection to a specific place and specific creatures, the wonders of Earth and the importance of living in harmony on it then sink in deeply. We want to help forge the links between video game players and planet. The Earth really is an astounding playground and Hardshell Labs aims to develop the tools and the games to get people playing on it and in it.
Crowd sourcing asks the public to contribute time, money, ideas, or other invaluable resources to get something done. It’s a great way to grow a community, raise funds, build on each other’s thoughts, or divide up a large project into bite-sized pieces. Hardshell Labs, Inc. develops projects with the collaboration of a lot of different people from a lot of different fields, so we know the value of the crowd. The conservation projects we are designing depend on lots of people getting involved. Everyday people pitch in and contribute meaningful data and affect real-world change. Maybe you’re one?
Imagine people all over the world repelling predators of endangered species, capturing invasive species, spotting and reporting poachers, observing and logging amusing or interesting animal behaviors, identifying plant species—from their smartphones or tablets. Remote controlled vehicles with webcams and GPS can go anywhere—the ocean floor, unexplored rainforests, even Mars. Why not use these tools in fun games that make a difference?
Our first game was a proof-of-concept focused on the Desert tortoise, and debuted at TEDxBerkeley. As humans expand and build in the tortoises desert habitat, we provide water, food and other resources for ravens, which prey on baby tortoises. Players will eventually be able to remotely operate a rover with a video camera, protecting tortoises from ravens and other predators. To quote founder Tim Shields, “saving the world should be fun.”
Who are these games for?
Everybody, really. But we’ve identified five key groups that we want to bring together to collaborate on projects that can bring these games to life.
Activists: Environmentalists, conservationists
Scientists: Biologists, ecologists
Gamers: People in it for the fun
Designers: Game designers and their companies
Technologists: Programmers, engineers, inventors
We’ve got some exciting ideas our team is working on, and we’re implementing them very quickly. President Tim Shields presented at TEDxBerkeley on Feb 8, 2014, and there’s lots more happening at our blog page! You can also find us on Facebook, Tumblr, twitter and YouTube.
Selected, specific portions of Hardshell Labs, Inc. intellectual property are open-source and licensed via Creative Commons. Hardshell’s Techno-Tortoise™ is covered an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license.
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