Video games are often maligned as a mindless waste of time. But with the mobile game KATOA, players can have a real-world impact on major environmental problems — including saving coral reefs and restoring penguin habitats.
The game was created by Sankari Studios and allows a global community of players to come together and interact with digital biomes and simulations. The game’s premise is that the user explores “true-to-life 3D biomes” across the globe to “manage resources, complete quests, and combat the toxic ‘blight’ to create thriving natural ‘havens’ that wildlife will flock to.”
Achieving goals in the game translates to real money donated to a vetted conservation partner, like the Great Barrier Reef Foundation, Sustainable Ocean Alliance, and the African Penguin Nest Project.
Not only are the players in the game motivated by the idea that achieving their goals may help aid in environmental and habitat protection for at-risk species, but the app also offers leaderboards to track individual and community contributions.
The app also aims to make its players more climate literate and to channel educational content into a form that is both interactive and geared at creating change.
The purpose of the app is to attract a population of users who desire to positively impact the environment but are not exactly sure how to do so. And with the number of gamers globally numbered at close to three billion — playing an average of three and a half hours a day — the potential reach of games like KATOA is massive.
On the corporate end, the app also opens up opportunities for sponsorships and connections with businesses looking to increase environmental commitments in a tangible but indirect way.
“Playing KATOA teaches climate literacy and raises awareness and funding to mitigate the climate crisis. The research is clear: Pro-social games lead to pro-social behavior. We create an emotional connection between the player, ecosystems, and species, which is the catalyst to becoming an agent of change,” Sankari Studios said in a statement.
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