Games are not normally on the agenda when the cream of Australia's science community come together each year to celebrate their achievements.
This year, however, the nature mapping game, ‘QuestaGame,’ was a winner at the nation’s top science prizes. The 2018 Australia Museum Eureka Prizes, considered the ‘Oscars’ of Australian science, were awarded at Sydney Town Hall on the 29th August.
The Canberra based tech start-up, QuestaGame, claimed the Eureka Prize for 'Innovation in Citizen Science', honouring projects that engage members of the public in authentic research in partnership with professional scientists. The prize was sponsored by the Commonwealth Department of Industry, Innovation and Science and awarded by The Hon Karen Andrews MP.
“We’re really just scratching the surface here of what’s possible when you combine online multiplayer gaming with scientific activity,” says Andrew Robinson, CEO and co-founder of QuestaGame. “As the game evolves and gets more interesting, the quantity and quality of the biodiversity data also increase, allowing researchers to map and better understand the distribution of plants and animals.”
QuestaGame is the world’s first outdoor biodiversity gaming app meant to connect players to nature while, at the same time, providing expert-verified environmental data for scientific research. It’s often been called the “Pokémon GO of real life” (though it actually started before Pokémon GO).
‘What’s different about QuestaGame,’ says David Haynes, QuestaGame’s head of user experience, “ is that it’s reaching new audiences - people who wouldn’t normally be interested in nature - getting them excited about becoming environmental scientists and paying closer attention to the world around them.”
QuestaGame is free to play for anyone, of any age, anywhere in the world. Players use their mobile devices to compete, or work together, to collect and identify biodiversity data, receiving higher scores for more remarkable finds.
Players have found some particularly high-scoring plants and animals, including species listed as invasive threats, as well as numerous undescribed species. One player recently had a new species of spider named after him.
“Part of the fun is seeing what other people are discovering,” says Haynes. “You can even set up quests in other parts of the world so that people find species which get added to your collection and help increase your overall score.”
Apart from empowering its tens of thousands of players to discover, learn about and help map biodiversity, QuestaGame engages the expert communities of over 100 conservation groups in species identification.
Each month QuestaGame hold's a global BioQuest, with the next one, Buzzing Bonanza II, starting on 7 September, 2018.
QuestaGame also holds an annual University BioQuest, which starts in April and involves universities from around the world.
To find out more about QuestaGame, visit www.questagame.com.
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