• The EcoKids and the Paper Pests - WPI MQP Trailer
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Description:

The EcoKids and the Paper Pests is an educational tablet game focused on biodiversity and invasive species. Modeled after real world events in New Zealand, the player is responsible for lessening the damage of the invasive brushtail possum on the ecosystem.

The environment naturally consists of trees, which provide fruits and berries, the herbivore kokako birds, and the carnivore harrier hawks, which all keep each other in balance. Once introduced, the possums eat the eggs of the kokako, as well as destroy the trees the kokako eat from. The harrier hawks do not keep the possums in check due to not recognizing them as a food source, allowing their populations to skyrocket. Left unchecked, the possums lead the kokako into extinction, which in turn kills off the harrier hawks.

The player uses real-world responses to invasive species to preserve the ecosystem against the possums through the EcoKids, a group of volunteers dedicated to helping nature. They can manually capture possums by sharing a tile, place traps to capture any possums that enter that tile, and replant trees where the possums have left destroyed ones. Using these actions, the player has to protect the environment and the species within it despite its invader.

This game is focused on educational value through immersive experience. By playing in the role of the EcoKids, players learn the interaction between different species in an ecosystem and how quickly things can be become unbalanced by introducing non-native species. They also learn about how to combat the negative effects of these species in a way that does not put other species of the ecosystem at risk. There is also a Journal feature, where players can look at pictures and information about the possums, kokako, and harriers that exist in the real world, connecting the creatures in the game to those of New Zealand. All this information together will bring a basis of understanding for biodiversity and the threats of invasive species, allowing players to make informed choices on not only their personal interactions with nature, but also on voting for government legislature on ecological topics.