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 innovative nature mapping game, ‘QuestaGame,’ will be among finalists for the nation’s top science prizes. The winners of the 2018 Australia Museum Eureka Prizes, considered the ‘Oscars’ of Australian science, will be announced at an awards dinner at Sydney Town Hall on the 29th August.
The Canberra based tech start-up, QuestaGame, is one of three finalists in the Citizen Science category, which refers to projects that engage members of the public in authentic research in partnership with professional scientists.
“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 90 conservation groups in species identification.
For this year’s National Science Week, 11-19th August, QuestaGame is holding its third-annual Great Aussie BioQuest, the largest bioblitz in Australia’s history. Participants discover Australia’s wildlife, contribute to research, and compete for prizes.
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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