Like Father, Like Son

"Are you looking at me?" An Emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae). Image credit: Andrew McConville.

Andrew and Austin can often be found looking for fantastic rare creatures with their smart phones - but it is not Pokemon these guys are after. This father and son duo are avid QuestaGamers, addicted to the thrill of spotting, photographing, and identifying all sorts of amazing wildlife.

One of the most venomous snakes in the world - a Tiger Snake (Notechis scutatus). Andrew's sighting earned him 433 gold. Image credit: Andrew McConville.

The duo, along with their family, have always been lovers of nature and the outdoors. QuestaGame they say though, has been a stimulus to get outside and explore more than ever before. Austin is a fifth-generation nature lover, and like his dad is a keen birder. Austin and his sister Morgan are 'Quest Creators'. They regularly invent new in-game quests for their family and other QuestaGamers to join (A Quest is a challenge that offers extra rewards for specific sightings - e.g. for a Grey Kangaroo, or a particular species of bird). Andrew now also enjoys providing advice for new players in Melbourne, teaching them tips and tricks for finding, photographing and submitting sightings.

Austin started playing when he was just 9. Not having his own smart-phone, he has improvised by using an Android tablet held up to the lens of his Binoculars. This creates what he calls a 'Digi-Bin' shot. Using this method he has captured photographs of over 260 separate species, including birds in flight (often to his Dad's surprise), and he currently holds a overall player ranking of 18th. Playing QuestaGame has sparked a passion for birding in Austin and according to his Dad, it appears he may have surpassed his father in birding skills! “He’s even better than me at identifying birds”. With over 1000 correct IDs to his name Austin is also the third highest earning bio-expert in the 'Pays to Know Nature Fund'.

The father and son team have plenty of exciting sightings between them. Their most memorable though are the unexpected encounters in their day-to-day lives. “Playing QuestaGame has made me more aware of the wildlife around us,” reflects Andrew. “I was walking in a park near work with colleagues when I spotted a Tiger Snake sitting on the path in front of us. If it wasn't for QuestaGame, training my brain to be on the lookout for any and all wildlife, I probably would have stepped right on top of it!"

Thus far, Andrew and Austin’s QuestaGame adventures have been relatively close to home - i.e. within Australia. However, being avid travellers, they hope to see QuestaGame expand to more countries. On a recent family trip to Japan they noted the abundance of wildlife there. Once QuestaGame is workable there, Andrew says he would love to explore more of Japan’s biodiversity and share it with others.

As for any aspiring QuestaGamers Andrew encourages them to get out into the bush, “you never know what you’ll find out there!”

Contributing author:
Roger Lee