Today, we are launching the preview app of our full game, Safari Central! Safari Central uses data from animal protection organisations to create Augmented Reality (AR) versions of real animals including elephants, jaguars, and lemurs, in a free app that players download to their phones via the App Store or Google Play.
There they can unleash their creativity to take photos of their favourite animals wherever they are. A virtual rhino might be snapped charging down the Champs Elysees in Paris, or a pangolin starting a climb over the Sydney Harbour Bridge, or a grizzly bear barging between tables at a streetside cafe in Chicago.
IoE is launching this preview app in order to test our ideas and learn as much as possible about how we can engage people with conservation through tech applications such as games and augmented reality.
"The grand vision is to get millions of people around the world to think about wildlife for five minutes every day, and think about it positively,” says Gautam Shah, founder of Internet of Elephants.
“Conservation suffers from so much bad news and gloomy images. People just want to turn the page or change the channel. But there are more than two billion people who play online or computer games. What if by playing our games we can get even a fraction of them to be addicted to wildlife? That could be a real game-changer for conservation."
The first game to use real animal data
Each organisation gave Internet of Elephants data and images on actual animals that they research and monitor. The game designers then used that information to create virtual versions of those very animals for the photo competition.
The elephant in Safari Central, for example, is Mweturia, a 40-year-old bull who lives in central Kenya and is notorious for breaking fences that conservation charity Space for Giants has erected to protect farmers' fields from his 'crop-raiding'. As they take part in the photo contest, players are also learning about actual animals conservationists are working to protect.
"Linking people who play games directly to an actual animal living and roaming the wilderness today is, in our minds, genius," said Max Graham, Space for Giants' CEO. "It gives people an understanding of the very real lives of these animals, and of the very real threats they face, in a way that isn't overly gloomy, and doesn't lecture or preach. That's the way potentially to gather millions and millions of new supporters to all our causes. We're super excited to be part of this."
Support conservation by playing a game
It’s free to download the app. Players can then opt to buy more ‘photo film’, and those micro payments accumulate and go to the six conservation organisations partnering with Internet of Elephants: Conservation International, the Chicago Zoological Society, Ol Pejeta Conservancy, Space for Giants, Tswalu Foundation and Pro-Carnivores. As a startup, we are really proud to work with these renown conservation organisations!
'The Pokemon Go of Wildlife'
Safari Central’s AR animals will go on to feature in a full Internet of Elephants game scheduled for release for the summer of 2018. First fans and press are calling it the 'Pokemon Go' for wildlife.
It will use GPS data of the animals’ movements across their territories – a jaguar patrolling the Brazilian rainforest, perhaps, or an elephant browsing Kenya's savannah - and overlay that to selected world cities. Players will then track and try to spot the animals' virtual twins, picking up insights into their behaviour that give them tactical advantages.