Category Archives: Our Team

The People’s Climate March from within the costume

We had a fabulous time at the People’s Climate March yesterday.  We made a couple of videos that centred on our Habitat mascot and below are some photos.

Our mascot Nara Garber who wore the bear suit in steamy conditions has shared on Facebook her experience of the march from within the costume. Below is a very unique perspective of the People’s Climate March:

Thank you all for tolerating the deluge of bear imagery in recent days. Before I take a much needed social media sabbatical and throw myself back into my Braddock edit, I wanted to share a few random observations. IF YOU ARE WEARING A POLAR BEAR COSTUME…:

1. You are essentially inhabiting your own microclimate, which, yesterday, was a not a particularly pleasant one. I spent the second half of the march recalling anecdotes from troops I met in Iraq and reminding myself that I was neither in harm’s way nor saddled with 50 lbs. of gear in 130 degree heat. So, if you ever wondered what a mascot is thinking…

2. Some children will run to you and hug you as though you are the essence of all that is good in the world.

3. Other children will look at you and sob hysterically.

4. It is possible to make the NYPD smile (although not without effort).

5. Smiling for photographs is utterly pointless (and yet I did this all day…).

6. People are strangely attuned to your body language. Dancing elicits dancing; bows elicit bows; lethargy… well, you get the point.

7. Someone watching 310,000 people march by might pull you over and ask if you’ve seen Deirdre. (?!)

8. Your vision is limited both horizontally and vertically, and you are in constant danger of tripping on barricades and other people. If you are ever stepped on by a mascot, don’t take it personally.

9. You are dependent on others to keep you upright and hydrated. Thank you, Tolan, for being the best support crew a bear could wish for… and for still being willing to register for a marriage license with me the morning after.

I should also explain one more time that the “Habitat” on the bear’s shirt refers to Habitat the Game, a free app created by my friend and roommate, Kylee Ingram that teaches kids about the environment and sustainability while promoting real world actions. For more information, visit http://www.habitatthegame.com.

Here’s to better stewardship of our planet 365 days a year!

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Habitat at the BEAMS Festival

On Saturday the 20th of September Habitat the Game will recreate an interactive winter wonderland in Henrietta Lane, at the annual BEAMS Festival in Chippendale Sydney:

http://beamsfestival.com.au/

The winter wonderland will allow players to mirror their portable device and play the game on the large screen.

Mock of Habitat the Game's Winter Wonderland at the BEAMS Festival

Mock of Habitat the Game’s Winter Wonderland at the BEAMS Festival

To reinforce the sustainable message a series of displays will be set up to demonstrate the real-world actions required to keep the polar bear alive and happy. The Installation will represent bear’s habitat by projecting an icy arctic ocean with oversized cardboard icebergs, sheets of ice and life size polar bears inhabiting the cardboard ice world.

Team Habitat will also be running an interactive scavenger hunt. There will also be some of Australia’s most popular virtual pins relocated to the area for the day! Players will be able to collect the humpback whale, koala, black cockatoo, kangaroo, including popular Wilderquest series of pins.

Find all of the pins and receive a prize!

Habitat the Game virtual pins at the BEAMS Festival

Habitat the Game virtual pins at the BEAMS Festival

 

The event starts from 5pm so bring your kids and your phone and enjoy!

How Habitat has been funded

Habitat has been lucky enough to receive funding from both Screen NSW’s Interactive Media Fund and Screen Australia’s Interactive Gaming Fund.

Due to the educational potential of Habitat and the importance of maintaining its integrity any commercial decisions we make with the brand have be thoroughly considered, taking into considering the impact on our players and their families.

We were advised by games marketing companies to charge for the game, create a subscription model or charge for in game purchases.  We were not keen on any of these models but we are aware of the need to create a revenue stream to keep building Habitat.

So when we started to build the location services we made a decision to try and partner with organisations that would make most sense to the Habitat brand who are already engaged with our demographic and their parents.

HABITAT LOCATIONS and REVENUE

Our team looks at the concept of sustainability from a holistic perspective and people’s wellbeing is one of the most important pillars.

At no time in human history have children spent less time outdoors. Children between the ages of 8 and 18 spend an average of 6.5 hours each day engaging with electronic media, but less than 4 minutes a day in unstructured outdoor play. A recent British study found that children at 8 years old can identify more Pokémon characters than they can wildlife species, while the University of Glasgow recently reported a study of toddler activity that found a sample of 78 three-year olds were physically active for just 20 minutes a day. A wealth of studies report similar alarming findings.

Habitat rewards players for visiting specified locations – players receive a unique pin for finding the location and have to answer a number of educational questions.

We also saw this as an opportunity to invite partners such as tourism bodies, government environmental bodies and local councils help us pay for the pins and the ongoing build of Habitat.

So we have sold some pins to partners who are keen to engage with our family demographic. In return we supply them with a unique pin, we place their logo on the pin and we also provide them data about the number of visitors that visited the site.

 

Scotland tourism's Golden Eagle

Scotland tourism’s Golden Eagle

Remember we do not collect any personal data about the player in Habitat. The players sign in anonymously and remain anonymous. This data is also not supplied to our partners in real time.

Our partners are keen to be involved in an innovative world first that encourages kids to enjoy the outdoor and explore locations that they are keen to share with our players. The data will also help them plan and improve experiences at locations for our demographic.

To learn more about Habitat’s privacy policy visit:

 http://www.habitatthegame.com/privacy-policy/

 

WA Tourism's Whale Shark

WA Tourism’s Whale Shark

 

 

Testing on Habitat the Game has begun

We have officially started testing with Habitat the game.

If you know any potential players aged between 7-12 please let us know and we will send you the game.

What we need is feedback.

Environmental Impact Accounting from the team at Integrated Sustainability Analysis (ISA).

We have been working with Dr Chris Dey and Jacob Fry. Below are some notes about how they have set up the figures behind the game.

“The game has the task of conveying ideas of both responsibility and empowerment to the player. Responsibility here means creating the link between lifestyle choices and consumption habits, and environmental impact. The consumption of goods and services in Australia create environmental (and social) impacts all over the world through complicated supply chains. Often the environmental impacts of production are hidden to the consumers of final goods and services which makes it difficult to conceptualise these impacts. The game encourages the players to accept some responsibility for these consequences, without overwhelming them. The assignment of responsibility is tempered by empowerment to alter these impacts through lifestyle and consumption choices. The game guides players through relatively simple changes that cumulatively reduce their environmental impact.

The game aims to reduce the total impact of the players while recognising the importance of relative or fractional change as well. All reductions in environmental footprint should be encouraged, however the effect of this reduction should be compared to the scale of the problem and not be in ignorance of the environmental footprint that remains.

Environmental impact of players will be measured against a number of indicators, including energy, water, greenhouse gas emissions and ecological footprint. These data will be collected from the players over time to establish their personal footprint. The players then complete real world tasks, or actions, to improve their footprint. For each action, the change in environmental impact will be calculated against the national average and combined to determine an overall footprint:

–       Water (ML)

–       Emissions/Energy (t-CO2e)

–       Land (ha)

Habitat points are an easy way of summarising the player’s progress in the game and allow them to communicate this progress with their peers. The ‘player profile’ will contain information about Habitat Points and the actual environmental indicators. These indicators could be presented in standard metrics, such as mega-litres (ML) or hectares (ha), as well as simplified metrics which may be easier for the players to understand – such as ‘swimming pools’ or ‘football fields’. The player profile could also contain the details of completed actions, this may also create peer pressure to ensure that these actions are actually completed or maintained.”

Meet our music composer – Gary Sinclair

What is your role on Habitat?Image
Sound design and music composition

Tell us a little about your background?
Music production/supervision and audio post for all media. At the moment my back ground, like..behind me? there are lots of people making a polar bear do strange things on computers.

What aspects of Habitat are you most excited about?
an intuitive all encompassing feel god fun experience. and helping to create a lovely world to explore and maintain. Also to encourage positive behaviours too

What are some of the challenges that the team has been facing?
creating the emotional sounds of a polar bear.

What are some of the music references you are using for the game?
music references are anything from archived inuit recordings to animals call/response communication systems int heir natural environment. Also current games such as the Journey and Flow. The Mogwai soundtrack for Les Revenants

What kind of feelings/thoughts do you hope the music will evoke?
i only hope that the music and sound helps to creative an overall experience, The emotions of the bear and the game will be determined by the player and how they play the game, i hope the music will reflect this.

What future do you see for Habitat?
cold and icy hopefully, that’s the way the bear likes it

Can kids make a difference?

The making of this game has been an interesting journey. We looked at many options when raising money including government agencies, sponsors, educational entities and broadcasters.

One of the hurdles we hit surprised us. We were asked; Should you be making a game that suggests to kids that they can have an influence on climate change?

One institution said “we have to ask if a game proposing individual action on a problem that can only productively be addressed at the policy level is useful.” While a broadcasters said “the major issue for us is the link (or implied link) between actions in the real world and climate change.” They did not want kids to think they could make a difference on the animal’s habitat they were caring for.

We have always been very clear about why we are making this game and our reasons have not changed.

We want to create a game that is incredibly fun to play but at the same time empower kids and give them information that will make them more resilient and enabling to join the debate.

We know that kids feel incredibly disempowered when it comes to environmental problems and climate change. We are focusing on the individual behaviours that they do feel in control of. They will be able to see how much they can achieve if they work together as a community.

Public support is one of the crucial components needed for policy change and we are aiming to help kids understand basic principles.

Finally we asked Dr Chris Dey at Sydney University did he think Kids could make a difference?

The person behind the concept

We caught up with Habitat’s Producer Kylee Ingram:

Habitat's creator Kylee Ingram

Habitat’s creator Kylee Ingram

How did you come up with the idea for Habitat?

A few years ago ABC TV had a serious game competition. One of our production managers at the time told me about it, we had missed the deadline but the concept left my mind buzzing. The next night I woke up in the middle of the night and wrote up the concept  – adopt a digital pet that is endangered by climate change and change your own behaviours to keep him alive. I pitched it to my colleagues the next day, they loved it and everyone gave us their thoughts. I then submitted it to Content 360 at Cannes and it was nominated as one of best new ideas. We knew we were onto something.

Tell us a little about your background?

I traditionally come from a TV and documentary background. I started out in sports television but I left wanting to create media that was more outcomes focused. In  2003 I started Australian Documentaries to produce stories for the NGO and government sectors communicating social and environmental issues.

What did you find appealing about the Habitat project?

I love the real world cross over. I think that is going to be a dynamic that people explore more and more. I love that we will be creating a game that will empower kids. We have found kids feel disillusioned and worried about environmental problems. We are giving them information and action that they can do to make a difference. Kids will be able to see as individuals and as a collective how much they are saving in terms of energy, water and land. We hope this will be really powerful.

What are some of the challenges that the team has been facing?

Budget is always an issue with these types of project as we are creating a hugely ambitious game. We would like it to be both fun AND educational. Including the real world actions into the game is hard.  We know foremost we need to create a sticky game that kids will want to keep on playing.

Tell us a little about the Team you are working in. They come from a range of backgrounds?

Our team is bringing together people with a diverse range of background from TV, animation, composing, gaming and more. Everyone is really passionate about the project and we have all had a great time working together in house which is new for all of us.

What future do you see for Habitat?

We want habitat to be the most effective environmental game ever launched.

In the second iteration we will have location based services added so kids will be notified when they are near a habitat location. We are inviting NGOs, museums and parks from all over the world to participate. The aim is to get kids playing Habitat in every corner of the earth.

 

Meet the animators – An interview with Greg Hunsburger

We caught up with Greg Hunsburger who is the 3D Designer on Habitat:

IMG_6569

Tell us a little about your background?
I am 2D designer and 3D animator. I’ve designed and animated exhibition pieces for the Australian Museum and media for the Australian Maritime Museum among other fun and quirky projects. I am a nature enthusiast and natural born explorer.

What do you like about Habitat?
The Bear, the Park and the Heart of the project. It’s exciting to work on a game that puts an important message forward while making something really fun and engaging. The bears are ridiculously cute!

What kind of animation decisions have you been making?
I’ve been across the entirety of the project writing actions scripts and making sure the Bear’s character is really front and center. The decisions that I make are about making these Polar Bears lovable and where the animations all fit within a dynamic narrative. My hope is that Habitat the game is as much about meeting and getting to know the bears as much as playing games with them.

What have been some of the challenges for you?
Redesigning our work pipeline from 3D and 2D animation over to game building has been one kind of challenge. Making game play and reward decisions that stay true to the heart of our game while keeping it a fun experience has been a very cool and altogether new puzzle to solve.

What are elements of the game you have enjoyed building?
I’ve enjoyed designing and building the quirky Achievements and thinking about the way in which real world actions can be dynamically reflected in the game world and game play. When kids see our bear doing a belly flop after taking a trip down our crazy ice-slide they are going to go bananas. When they see the park ravaged by pollution and climate change they are really going to get poked in the feelers.

Tell us a little about the Team you are working in. They come from a range of backgrounds?
The team is full of passion and seems to boil over with ideas and solutions. The team is new to apps but Brian’s experience is helping us navigate the waters with a lot of confidence. We’re a funny, quirky bunch and we all collaborate really well. The heart and soul of the game is something we all believe in, so it’s been a project of passion from the start.

What future do you see for Habitat?
I see Habitat the game expanding into other earthly regions, exploring other animals; all the while making the link back to the player’s home and habits.

I see the brand bringing some really great tools that will help kids and parents understand their ecological footprints and how we can work together to get our planet out of this mess.

Interview with Brian Su – Lead Developer

Brian Su Habitat the Game's Lead Developer

Brian Su Habitat the Game’s Lead Developer

 

What is your role on Habitat?

I’m responsible for developing the Habitat game. I take all the art, music and ideas and translate them to an app.

Tell us a little about your background?

I’ve had a long history of being involved in the creation and coding of a wide variety of games. Prior to becoming involved with educational games, a large part of my work included producing games for PC and console devices. I’ve also worked on projects featuring simulated environments (both urban and natural). It was through working on such simulations that I first got interested in the game engine Unity, and have spent much of my free time over the last three years getting my Unity knowledge from the level of enthusiast to (hopefully close to) expert.

What did you find appealing about the Habitat project?

It is something completely new: a project that deals with ecological issues in real life and introduces them to a younger audience. Plus, I really like polar bears!

Has the integration of the real world actions been difficult?

It has been challenging but interesting to integrate real world actions. It’s never really been done in a game so I have nothing to base it upon and we also don’t know how players will react to it. It’s going to be an interesting experiment and involve a lot of testing and revising.

What are elements of the game you have enjoyed building?

I enjoyed creating the interactive bear because it’s a challenge to create an emotional attachment to a virtual character. I’ve learnt a lot working with the animators about the small nuances needed to create an expressive character.  Another part that was quite interesting was incorporating the reduction metrics into the game and seeing how doing certain real world actions can create an effect on many environmental factors.

Tell us a little about the Team you are working in. They come from a range of backgrounds?

It’s my first time working on a game with a television and post production team. I’ve learnt a lot of new things about design and animation from them and hopefully shown them a lot of things about developing games.

What future do you see for Habitat?

I see Habitat becoming a great tool for kids to learn about the environment in a fun way. I’d like to expand it with new continents, animals and new real world actions.