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Games, simulation and visualization for greater public engagement in plant health - PH0480

There is a pressing need for greater public awareness and participation in efforts to protect the health of plants and trees in the UK. Consumer purchases of plant material can facilitate pest incursions and spread. Informed consumers will make better decisions and help to prevent these. An engaged public can also act as vigilant plant inspectors (“citizen scientists”) in back-gardens, urban parks, and wilderness areas, vastly extending the coverage that is possible by relying on professional plant inspectors along.

Computer games and visualizations can be used as a means to educate and engage the public in these issues. Simulation-based games can allow users to explore “what-if” scenarios, learning more about the consequences of different behavioural choices. Mobile apps and games can be used in creative ways to enhance the user’s appreciation of the natural environment, and can provide ways to motivate and reward volunteers participating in citizen science.

The project will develop and explore the use of a range of gaming and simulation software tools for public engagement. It builds upon earlier work that used three-dimensional gaming and virtual reality to create an immersive simulation-based game about managing disease incursions in an urban tree scenario.

The project will aim to identify features of “gamification” (the use of computer games for serious purposes) that promote positive user engagement and retention of knowledge. These features will be deployed across a range of media, including physical games, mobile applications, desktop video games, context-sensitive games using Bluetooth beacons, and web-based games. Games will be used with members of the public at sites including botanic gardens, museums, horticultural exhibitions and on the web. Appropriate qualitative methods (user observation, interviews, free-text feedback) and quantitative methods (structured questionnaires) will be designed and used to evaluate the effectiveness of the games in engaging and educating the public, changing behaviour, and improving recruitment and retention in Citizen Science projects in tree and plant health.
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2016

To: 2020

Cost: £59,271
Contractor / Funded Organisations
University of Stirling
Plant Pests and Diseases              
Fields of Study
Plant Health