When NSW National Parks & Wildlife Society briefed us to use iPad’s to support a web campaign combating nature deficit disorder in children, the irony of using mobile technology was not lost on us.
However, analytics show that kids are increasingly evolving beyond a shared PC and onto more personal and portable mobile and tablet devices.
The brief to Nomad was to evolve a Pac Man styled Flash game about Bower Birds into an iPad game. The objective centred on the requirement for children to playfully engage with the content to be inspired to engage with nature. NPWS were seeking a minimum of 5000 downloads in the first month of the campaign with any media attention for the app also driving users to the web version.
“Nature Deficit Disorder, a term coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods, refers to the alleged trendthat children are spending less time outdoors, resulting in a wide range of behavioural problems. Source Wikipedia”
With a limited budget we also needed to work with as much of the NPWS existing design assets and content.
Importantly, the solution needed to reconnect children with the real world by showing them opportunities to connect with National Park locations in their area.
When engaging with nature, children love the game of discovery. This includes the core elements of search, collection and scoring.
We needed to create a solution that harnessed these discovery elements while presenting them a nature experience through technology, beyond actual natural spaces. A Pac Man style game really wasn’t going to cut it.
Official census stats show that 50% of children between five and eight in NSW have limited access to natural spaces because they live in the greater Sydney metropolitan area while It’s estimated that more than 60% of children have regular access to a smartphone or tablet.
Nomad developed a solution that replicated in part, children’s real world interactions in a rainforest.
Nomad harnessed discovery elements through an immersive 360 degree virtual environment that encourages kids to observe and discover the nature around them by holding the iPad like a camera. Panning reveals more of the environment, 3D rainforest audio and hidden native animals.
Users are encouraged to collect animals by taking pictures & earn points by unlocking animals. Users can then open the animals page to reveal rich content as well as maps of the local national parks the animal lives in and extra park info.
The whole gaming process takes kids from a playful interaction to an educational experience and a gateway to actual national parks to extend the experience, engaging children with nature.
The results have far exceeded initial expectations of 5000 attaining 11,000 downloads within the first month!
Key to the high download figures was our successful management of the Apple editorial team to optimize our chance for high exposure. The app was featured as app of the week in the app store and reached the number 1 position in its category. Being an Apple recommended product is a testament to the solution and a powerful driver for downloads.
Reviews from users are very encouraging showing a rating 4 ½ out of 5 star rating and feedback that shows parents and children are enjoying the app for its gaming and educational value.
Analytics show that the average user has returned to the app 4 times within the first month, with an average 18 minutes per session equating to over an hour of interaction time per user.
On the back of this success, National Parks engaged us to develop version 2 of the application with new environments being added to the app.
Work continues for the Wilderquest program with Nomad working with NPWS to optimise the content for schools and National Park location opportunities.
As well as the app development creating a new channel to reach families, Apple selected the Wilderquest app as App of the week in iTunes bringing further awareness to the broader project.
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