Are people still playing Farmville? I hid all that crap from my Facebook feed so I don’t know, but man, some people were crazy about that game. So crazy that a Farmville parody actually became a cultish obsession in its own right. So crazy that you might look at the population of Farmville players and think “man, if only we could harness that power for good!” Which is probably what students at the University of Washington Bothell’s Center for Serious Play were thinking when they developed a Farmvillesque wetlands protection game that actually helps real-life wetlands.
In the game, players maintain the biological diversity of the wetland by obtaining up to 30 species of plants such as broadleaf arrowleaf, sitka willow and tufted hairgrass and planting them in areas to support biological diversity of the wetland, all while fending off invasive plants.
Players determine where to establish the plants, as well as snags, rock piles, ponds and logs, strategically placing them on the virtual wetland in order to create a more vibrant ecosystem.
Okay, maybe moving rock piles around doesn’t sound like an ideal gaming environment, but what do I know — cleaning up cow patties and baling hay, or whatever you do in Farmville, doesn’t sound like much fun to me either. I like Monkey Island. The important thing about Wetlandville (it’s actually called UWB Wetlands Restoration, which is why the department is not called the Center for Serious Marketing) is that when you buy Facebook credits to get more plants or volunteers, a portion of the proceeds go to non-virtual wetlands conservation.
This is not the first green-minded Farmville knockoff we’ve reported on — MyConservationPark operates on the same idea, giving real money from virtual purchases to real conservation groups. Are people actually playing that? I hid all this crap so I don’t know.