THE BUTTERFLY BRIDGE Using video games as a medium to crowdsource ‘more-than-human' urban biodiversity planning.
‘The Butterfly Bridge’ is an augmented reality video game that encourages players to improve the biodiversity of urban spaces. In an example of ‘more-than-human’ interest, players collect data through their camera phones about existing and missing greenery in the urban plant grid. They use butterfly-biased plant recognition tools that identify existing butterfly habitat and food plants. The game then invites players to use the augmented reality planting function, where digital ‘seed tokens’ are transformed into geolocated planting data for the local council. In this way, players and urban managers can share information and resources to co-create travel corridors and habitat spaces for butterflies, which consist of butterfly specific food and caterpillar plants. Moving up each level of the game, players become representatives of yet another endangered butterfly species on the UK red list and its unique ecological needs, whilst also contributing to real-life efforts to improve biodiversity in general. Butterflies act as indicator species for the health of a wide range of other invertebrates, as well as the wider environment. In this way, they become an easily identifiable proxy for the natural world in this ‘phygital’ (half physical, half digital) rethinking of biodiversification strategies.