Save American wetlands with this student-made Facebook game

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UWB Wetlands Restoration Facebook game
This Facebook game built by college students teaches about wetlands better than Zynga's FarmVille can teach about farming. Not surprising, seeing that its chief goal is to educate. But biodiversity is an easy concept with hard realities, because nature can't be rushed, no matter how much Farm Cash you've got to throw at it.

Created by Harebrained Schemes and the undergraduates at the University of Washington Bothell's Center for Serious Play, UWB Wetlands Restoration is a new Facebook game that educates and aids wetland restoration without players having to get their boots muddy. Folks may be tempted to call it "WetlandVille", but unlike Zynga's simulation games, it plays by very strict rules that are true-to-life.

Instead of being a never-ending game with a focus on decorating and expanding an empty space, as so many Facebook games tend to do, UWB Wetlands Restoration offers a replayable game cycle of 25 days that's meant to reflect the 50-year evolution of real wetlands. Consider this, the UWB campus is part of a 58-arce wetland that's been under restoration since 1998. Another two to three decades of tending is expected before the area becomes self-sustainable.

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As such, wetland restoration involves a lot of planning and needs to be done in layers. Your main task is the gradual introduction of certain flora and fauna. Game advancement involves meeting specific conditions. For example, if you want the Cinnamon Teal duck to roost on your land, you need Tall Mannagrass, Ponds, and Broadleaf Arrowhead. But in order to have Tall Mannagrass, you need trees planted, and the easiest tree to get is the Douglas-fir, which will first require planting Tufted Hairgrass.

Whenever you gain access to a new element of the game -- whether it's an animal, a plant, or terrain -- a green video icon may appear. Clicking on it allows you to view a brief YouTube-hosted lecture by Dr. Warren Gold, the Associate Professor of Environmental Science at UWB, on how each of these elements contribute to wetland restoration. This is an innovative integration as far as Facebook games go, and was employed by Audubon's Birding the Net event last fall.

If you're looking for a scientifically minded game and a thoughtful play experience, UWB Wetlands Restoration is golden. As a bonus, eighty percent of the money you choose to spend on this game will be used to restore real wetlands, while the rest will go towards game maintenance.

Click here to play UWB Wetlands Restoration on Facebook now >

[Hat-tip: GeekWire]

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