Category Archives: The launch

Habitat launches in Canada

It’s Earth Day and the Royal Ontario Museum is launching Habitat in Canada! There will be five new Habitat pins to be found in the museum. Canadian players will be able to trade the local pins they find with other players around the world.


Aaron Philips 

We sat down with Aaron Phillips from the Schad Gallery of Biodiversity to learn a little more about ROM and what they have planned.

Tell us a little about the ROM. How many kids come through a year?

  • The Royal Ontario Museum is one of the largest museums in Canada, and rather unique in that we have extensive collections encompassing not just art, nature, or history, but all three under one roof! It’s a little tricky to parse just how many kids come through – but I can say that in 2015-2016, we had 1.1 million visitors at the museum, of which 100,000 were students visiting with their classes. Add to that all the kids who participate in our camp programs, as well as all those who come in with their families through general admissions and membership, and it adds up to A LOT of kids!


What have been some of your most popular exhibitions for kids?

  • We’ve found that children enjoy opportunities to interact with our galleries and exhibitions in diverse ways, whether through touchable replica objects, puzzles, costumes or technology. To that end, we have had great success with exhibitions featuring interactives geared towards children (and social media savvy adults) such as our recent Pompeii: In the Shadow of the Volcano and, currently, Out of the Depths: A Blue Whale Story.

What are you doing for Earth Day?

  • This Sunday (Apr 23) we’re having a building wide Family Funday program called “Earth Matters”, where we’re bringing in a number of ecology-, environment- and citizen science-oriented organizations to encourage our visitors to take action to better conserve and preserve our planet (which includes introducing them to Habitat the Game, of course!) it will be a great opportunity for visitors of all ages to learn more about environmentally-minded organizations and how they can themselves take action towards greater sustainability.

How will kids be using Habitat in the museum?

  • They’ll be using it as a new way to further explore and discover some of the iconic specimens in our biodiversity galleries and exhibitions. I’d also like to think that as they complete challenges, they’ll be thinking about how the sustainability of their actions relates to the biodiversity on display. I hopeful we’ll eventually see us finding ways to leverage some of the additional learning materials developed for classroom settings by adapting it to Canadian curriculum as well.

Why have you chosen Habitat as a partner?

  • Biodiversity programmes at the Royal Ontario Museum strive to help our public better understand nature and to prevent its loss through communications, research, citizen science, and community engagement. A very significant portion of our visitors are kids, and engaging them in meaningful discussions about ecology and environmental issues is a major part of our mandate. We can see that the team behind Habitat feel the same, and believe that Habitat will be an excellent addition to the means in which we connect with youth.

How do games and interaction fit in with your gallery?

  • Taking inspiration from our close working colleagues in the Hands-On Biodiversity and Discovery galleries, we know that facilitating inquiry-lead, hands-on discovery of our specimens and objects in the Life in Crisis: Schad Gallery of Biodiversity is an absolute must for meaningfully engaging visitors (of all ages).
  • Furthermore, over the last few years our gallery has also been proud to support our ROM Game Jam program by hosting the ROM Arcade. The ROM Game Jam sees roughly 100 video game developers invited into the Museum and, working in teams, building a video game inspired by some aspect of our research and collections. Each year, the ROM Arcade is the testing ground for a select few of these games, where visitors/players can critique and share feedback with the developers, collaborating with them on improving the games.

How interested do you think kids are about the environment/climate change?

  • In our experience, we’d say “very”! Most children have a deep-seated love of nature, of respect for wild creatures, and wonder at the “endless forms most beautiful” (and weird) that inhabit our world. And they also have very strong feelings about what is “fair”. And so as they become increasingly aware of the various environmental challenges we face as a global society, their desire to do something is strong.


Habitat the Game Launches

Habitat officially launched at Central Park Zoo this week.  We invited a bunch of NYC’s mommy bloggers to attend the event.

We filmed a little video of the event.

Below is the press release that will be sent out later today:

New Environmental App, Habitat the Game, Sends Kids on Real-life Missions to Save Virtual Endangered Species and Reduce Their Carbon Footprint

Habitat’s point system incentivizes players towards a 25% reduction in their carbon, water and land use

New York, NY – May 14, 2014  – The Wildlife Conservation Society and the Rainforest Alliance have announced an environmental app, Habitat the Game, during a media event in the Central Park Zoo in New York City. In an era where kids spend less than four minutes a day on unstructured outdoor play, this free app rewards kids for undertaking environmental actions and exploring the outdoors.

Designed to teach seven to 12 year-olds ecologically sustainable habits, Habitat encourages players to adopt an endangered animal, a virtual polar bear, and keep it happy and healthy. Players earn points through games in the app and by completing real-life “missions,” like recycling or checking in at more than 30 parks around the world, including the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Bronx Zoo and Central Park Zoo, as well as national parks and other iconic sites. The virtual pins collected at these sites can also be traded with players around the world.

“Kids today spend 70 percent less time outdoors than they did two generations ago,” said Courtney White, Director of Education at the Rainforest Alliance. “This app helps get kids outside while educating them about biodiversity and simple steps they can take to reduce their environmental footprint and create a healthier future for the planet.”

The Habitat team worked with the Integrated Sustainability Analysis team at Sydney University to develop algorithms that measure players’ ecological footprint based on indicators like water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to promoting outdoor activities, the point system in the game incentivizes players towards a 25% reduction in their carbon, water and land use and shows their impact through an ecological footprint calculator.

Additional game features include:

–       Individual animal care, similar to Tamagotchi games
–       Temple Run-style feeding games
–       Challenge a friend invitations to see each others’ progress
–       Leader board to track progress against other players
–       Location services to note when a Habitat pin location is nearby
–       Pin trading to swap pins with other players around the world

“Our aim was to create a game that was entertaining, but also had crossover into the real world,” said Kylee Ingram, the game’s developer. “Kids who play Habitat will be encouraged to change their real life behaviors.”

Habitat the Game is available to download for free on all iOS, Android and tablet devices. Visit to learn more, or find the app on iTunes and Google Play.

About Habitat the Game:
In the vein of the Tamagotchi persistence play craze of the 90s, users undertake actions to keep an endangered animal alive. In Habitat, game players adopt a polar bear. To keep the bear alive and healthy, players need to successfully complete events in the game, undertake real world actions and find locations. By completing these tasks players progress through levels, increasing the health of their bear. Ultimately the goal is to save the world by improving the bear’s health. Follow @habitatthegame

About Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS):

MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: 

About Rainforest Alliance:The Rainforest Alliance is a global nonprofit organization that works with people whose livelihoods depend on the land, helping them transform the way they grow food, harvest wood and host travelers. From large multinational corporations to small, community-based cooperatives, businesses and consumers worldwide are involved in the Rainforest Alliance’s efforts to bring responsibly produced goods and services to a global marketplace where the demand for sustainability is growing steadily. For more information, visit Follow @RnfrstAlliance


Habitat launches on the 13th of May 2014

The Wildlife Conservation Society and the Rainforest Alliance on the 13th of May will launch an environmental app called Habitat the Game.

Habitat the Game launches at Central Park Zoo on the 13th of May 2014.

Habitat the Game launches at Central Park Zoo on the 13th of May 2014.

The free app is available on iOS, Android and tablet devices. In the game players adopt an endangered animal (in this case a polar bear). Players are aiming to keep their virtual polar bear health and happy. The game is designed to teach seven to 12 year olds ecologically sustainable habits. Players help their cute bear by scoring points in mini-games within the app and by completing real-life ‘missions’ in the real world, like recycling. They can also rack up points by visiting partner locations such as the locations around Central Park Zoo. The pin systems aim to get kids out doors exploring their natural environment.

Habitat worked with the team at the Integrated Sustainability Analysis (ISA) at Sydney University to develop algorithms that measure players’ ecological footprint based on indicators like water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Habitat has based the point system in the game around incentivizing the players towards a 25% reduction in their carbon, water and land use – compared with the national average.

The app’s creator Kylee Ingram explains: “Our aim was to create a game that was entertaining but had cross over into the real world. Kids that play habitat will be encouraged to change their real life behaviors. They will not only be rewarded by their actions they will also be able to see how much they are saving in terms of water, land and carbon as both individuals and as a community.”

Features of Habitat the app include:

–        Individual animal with persistence style tamagotchi play
–        “Temple Run” style feeding games
–        Ecological footprint calculator showing players their savings
–        Challenge a friend – players can invite friends to see their progress in the game
–        Leader boards – players can see how they are tracking in relation to other players
–        Location services notify players when they are near a Habitat location
–        Pin trading scheme allowing players to swap pins with other players around the world

From the 13th of May Habitat will be available to download for FREE on all iOS, Android and tablet devices.

For more information email info at

Or visit

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.


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:


WA Tourism's Whale Shark

WA Tourism’s Whale Shark



TEST DAY! Habitat the Game

The team at the Centre for Research on Computer Supported Learning and Cognition (CoCo) at Sydney University hosted our Habitat testing day in their fantastic design studio.

We had 18 players participate. They were aged between 7 and 12 years.

Habitat's official day of testing

Habitat’s official day of testing

We did not give them any direction we just let them start playing the game and we listened to what they had to say.

They ended up playing for 90 minutes, which exceed our expectations.

The baby bear was a massive hit.

We interviewed the players after they played. Their feedback is an integral part to the next phase of our production. Thank you to all who participated.

Habitat Testing Day

Can big screen animation save biodiversity?

Below is a short review of an opinion article appeared that in the scientific journal – Tropical Conservation Science authored by Yong, Fam and Lum (see link below).

They were looking at the effects feature animations like Madagascar, Happy Feet and Finding Nemo could have on conservation efforts; and should NGOs be doing more to establish partnerships with animation studios?

NGOs have acknowledged the importance of social marketing in generating awareness across mass markets. They know these films shed light on issues concerning habitat, species and they can form the starting point of biodiversity and conservation knowledge.

The authours do list a number of criticisms of the films,  arising from the simplistic portrayal of conservation issues, including inaccurate and sensationalized depictions of reality and the negative influence of wildlife trade (eg Jurassic Park lead to a spike in people keeping iguanas).


There was an increase in demand for clownfish in the pet fish trade after Finding Nemo


the owl trade in India was linked to Harry Potter movies

While acknowledging these criticisms the authours do believe that these films could have better outcomes for conservation if they were  complimented with good educational and outreach materials. These outreach tools that would need to be created to reach the masses still remain relatively untapped.

So while these popular programs will not solve biodiversity problems, if they are created alongside carefully developed outreach programs they can go a long way to communicating much needed awareness and knowledge of biodiversity science to large audiences.

Click to access 11-09-25_244-253_Yong_et_al.pdf

At Habitat the Game we are developing a range of outreach materials for teachers, players and parents.