Tevi: a mobile game for natural awareness

I was detached from my job at the Université of Versailles Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines from July 2018 to April 2019. During that period, I was working at Falmouth University (United Kingdom) at the MetaMakers Institute, an EraNet Chair research project (EU funded). I was given a lot of freedom, so I launched a research project called Tevi.

One of the outputs of the project was a prototype of a mobile game also called Tevi, presented in the video below:

Tevi is a mobile video game designed to increase nature awareness.
Nature awareness can be defined as a person’s ecological knowledge and their awareness of the form and features of their local environment.  Tevi has been created in partnership with the Eden Project (full credits in the video description). It uses interactive evolutionary computation to simulate a garden.

We were seeking to raise awareness of young adults on nature, botanical and conservational issues. The aim was to create a game matching 18-25 years old interests, especially those with low interest towards nature.

We were focusing on the following research goals:

  • Explore the possibilities of increasing nature awareness through video games, with a focus on how people relate to nature.
  • Develop new gameplay mechanics to create meaningful interactions with the environment.
  • Experiment procedural content generation (PCG) for the creation and representation of natural elements and their evolution in real-time 3D video games.
  • Measuring the impact of a video game in the development of a target audience in a cultural and educational site.

We wanted to know whether a gardening mobile game could effectively promote nature awareness. 

Playtest of Tevi during EGX Rezzed in London, Leftfield Collection ( 4th to 6th of April 2019) , picture by Giovanni Rubino

This prototype is playable here: https://apps.apple.com/gb/app/tevi/id1451988673

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.MMInstitute.Tevi

At the moment, I feel that there are many things I would like to change about the game, even though we had positive feedback from the players. These changes are the result of the distance from the creation process that time gives, from reading interesting papers, from the playtests we conducted, and from analyzing this prototype for a research paper I wrote with Dr. Rory Summerley, Giovanni Rubino, and Tim Phillips (not released yet 😉 ).

I am especially questioning the narrative (Mars conquest) and the choice of exotic plants as being colonialistic and not as benefic as could be a domestic setting. More on that soon!


2 réflexions sur « Tevi: a mobile game for natural awareness »

  1. Hi, nice to meet you! I was really inspired by your post on Gamesnetwork, and wanted to know more about your work.
    I really love your ideas. Perhaps my question may sound negative, but I wonder if it may help. Why simulating a home garden when you can have a real home garden instead? We are not living in a Philip K. Dick-esque ecologic dystopia (not yet!). I mean, people get robotic dogs because they cannot have a real one, but you can grow real-life plants anywhere, they are actually more robust than people. The real Sansevieria in the picture would survive on the real Mars, I believe! This is how you learn to care about living things, and this is what we did as kids. We all had school assignments to grow one little flower and plant it in our school yard, and it was a very urban environment with very little greenery. Also, some of my adult friends are very into terrarium plants now, because it is like your own ecosystem. And technology could help caring about real-life plants, even the most difficult ones. Hope this doesn’t sound too critical!

    1. Thanks for your comment! It is not too critical, don’t worry. The lack of relation with actual nature was actually one of the issues that our user study and analysis pointed, so we very much agree with you.

      The initial idea was to create a game for young adults not interested in nature, hence the sci-fi context. Most young adults living in urbanized areas don’t have their own garden, but it is likely that they would have a balcony or access to public gardens at least.

      That’s why I’m working now on a new version with local plants, and an actual small garden with these plants will be planted in Spring at my University, with the help of professional gardeners. It is still a complicated balance to achieve as we want to create a gardening game attractive especially for people who don’t care about nature and make them care.

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