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Virtually clean Aotearoa’s coastlines with this new game

Virtually created real Kiwi coastlines are inspiring gamers to become Citizen Scientists and tackle the issue of litter in Aotearoa

Tokahaki Point, Kapiti Island and Tāhunanui Beach, Nelson are the focus of a new game designed to tackle the problem of litter on Kiwi beaches and encourage players to become Citizen Scientists to combat the issue in real life.

Called Pick Up Quick!, the game has been launched by Sustainable Coastlines as part of its Litter Intelligence project.

Created with and available to play in DREAMS™ for PlayStation®4, the game taps into the gaming for good trend and is one of the first partnerships of its kind with UK-based developer Media Molecule.

With two levels created to look just like the real-life coastlines featured, the aim of the game is to hunt for discarded litter, collecting as much as possible within 45 seconds.

Data from real litter clean ups at the selected coastlines is used to inform each level of the game so players can compare the rubbish they collect with what was collected in real life.

Leading the creation of Pick Up Quick! has been Stacey Bartlett, a 25-year-old school administrator from North Canterbury, with further expertise provided by Media Molecule.

“I’ve always loved creating things, be it drawing, animation or crochet, and I’d been experimenting with DREAMS for a while when Media Molecule approached me,” says Stacey.

“I’ve been playing PlayStation since I was eight so was excited to be asked, if a little nervous, but I worked closely with the Sustainable Coastlines team to try and make the coastlines as realistic as possible.”

Stacey, who also goes by the username Ividusk, hopes Kiwis will relate to what they see in the game and look at ways to reduce their impact on the environment.

“I want people who have visited Tāhunanui Beach in Nelson to play the game, recognise the beach and understand the scale of the problem and then take action to stop the litter getting there in the first place,” she added.

Aimed at young Kiwi gamers, Pick Up Quick! is part of the growing ‘gaming for good’ trend, which sees creators use their skills for the benefit of community or charity groups.

Co-founder of Sustainable Coastlines and the Litter Intelligence programme, Camden Howitt, says litter is a major threat to Aotearoa and through education and grass roots action, we can tackle the issue at scale.

“Across the country we’ve been mobilising Kiwis to become Citizen Scientists to collect the rubbish on our beaches and publish the data,” says Camden.

“Pick Up Quick! brings that experience to a much wider audience, educating and inspiring them to take action on litter and become Citizen Scientists in real life.”

The Litter Intelligence programme has so far seen almost 350 surveys completed across the country by approximately 4,000 Citizen Scientists, but more are needed, particularly in remote parts of New Zealand.

“The level of detail in the game is seriously impressive and it’s a clever use of our data. If everyone who plays the game starts thinking a little harder about their impact on the environment and the changes they can make, then we’re another step closer to solving our litter problem,” added Camden.

DREAMS™ is the creation of award-winning studio Media Molecule, whose experts provided Stacey with tips and advice during the creation of Pick Up Quick!

“What Stacey has achieved is incredible, she’s a talented creator,” says Siobhan Reddy, studio director at Media Molecule.

“We’ve seen some pretty wonderful creations within DREAMS and this is right up there, the community aspect of gameplay that encourages education and understanding is really impressive.”

“We’ve featured it on the global DREAMS homepage, it shows what’s possible so we’re hoping it encourages people to get creative as well as think about their environmental impact – wherever they are.”

Pick Up Quick! is available to play for free in DREAMS™. DREAMS™ is available on the PlayStation Store.

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