Giy: An Alternate Reality Game for Gardeners



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GIY: An Alternate Reality Game for Gardeners

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5713 Chadbourne Hall The University of Maine Orono ME 04469-5713


Web: www.giygaming.org

Date: November 30, 2011

New Media Department


5713 Chadbourne Hall
The University of Maine
Orono, ME 04469-5713
Dear University of Maine New Media Department:

The GIY: Grow It Yourself Team is pleased to present this proposal for your evaluation. We look forward to working with you in the future to bring the knowledge sharing and simply fun experience of the GIY Game to Maine’s gardeners. The objective of the GIY: Grow It Yourself Game is to translate the work that Mainers do in their gardens into an online gaming space where they can compete and receive points for working in their gardens, sharing knowledge and tips, completing missions, and participating in or hosting community events.

With the support of the New Media Department, we will seek to build an operating version of our game. We will do so with the conceptual contributions of both on-campus green and agricultural organizations. The GIY: Grow It Yourself Game will be built in such a way that it will directly correspond with the needs of its users: Maine gardeners and those who are interested in learning to grow their own food.
We appreciate the New Media Department taking an interest in helping Maine’s gardeners find both community based knowledge of gardening and the fun of competition with our new game. Please contact me if you require any further information or have any questions concerning this proposal.

Thank you,

Anna Werner
Project Developer

GIY: Grow It Yourself

GIY: Grow It Yourself

An Alternate Reality Game for Gardeners




Submitted to: The University of Maine New Media Department

Date: November 30, 2011


Anna Werner

Project Developer

GIY: Grow It Yourself

5713 Chadbourne Hall

The University of Maine

Orono, ME 04469-5713


GIY: Grow It Yourself

An Alternate Reality Game for Gardeners

Project Abstract
This project leverages the tools and techniques of game play and social networking to the generation of gardens and a gardening community in Maine by producing an alternate reality gaming experience—GIY: Grow It Yourself. In this alternate reality game, Maine’s citizen gardeners participate by bringing their live food-producing gardens into game play on the web. The game creates a space where gardeners may compare the growth of their gardens to the growth of those of other players, as well as to contribute and share knowledge, receive feedback, and foster relationships within a community of equal interest in cultivating healthy gardens, and fresh food. In the spirit of competition and fun, this game will give gardeners the ability themselves to create a database of information and instruction focusing on how to grow your own food in Maine, as well as how to help others do the same.
Statement of Need
This project supports the field of New Media in that it encourages the fusing of web-based technology and social interaction to its real life counterpart. For example, in this case, the user of the website seeks guidance for growing Big Boy tomatoes while online, and finds it in being invited to the physical garden of another user, who happens to live only a township away. The premise of creating this gaming environment is to foster community knowledge of local food cultivation on a social basis, both on and offline. The product will be a repository of information about growing food in Maine, created by and for Maine’s own community of gardeners. Participation in the game will facilitate the connection of knowledge sharing between people who want to be closer to the food that sustains them. Close enough to grow it themselves.
Project Description
GIY: Grow It Yourself is an alternate reality game, similar to the highly successful World Without Oil (http://www.worldwithoutoil.org/), which creates an online game space that tracks real world activities. In an alternate reality game, the benefits accrue in the real world but using game play practices that motivate youth in virtual worlds. It is a tool for making learning fun, and giving control for learning to learners, while at the same time generating a knowledge base about best practices from the community that participates. Alternate reality games “crowdsource” a problem using play and social networking as methods for generating solutions and real world practices. In an academic world, we are seeking ways to turn “knowledge to action”).
GIY: Grow It Yourself will be an online gaming space designed to stimulate and reward food-producing gardens and the community that cultivates them. Gardeners document their tips and tricks and post entries online via mobile devices, Twitter and social networking tools. The online game space presents gardeners in Maine’s growing climate the opportunity to document the progression of their gardens; seed to full flower. Participation by gardeners in the online space would not only inspire a competitive state of mind to produce the best crop possible, but would also provide a learning space for users to exchange wisdom, secrets, and tips. Ideally users would gain knowledge from their interactions in the online space, learning from others how to grow hearty plants, revitalize and nourish the environments where they grow, and to foster community between those whose interests are earthly.
The idea of competition within the online game-space plays a part in this project as a motivator for users to seek the knowledge of others to improve their own gardens. Specifically, gardeners using the project’s website would “compete” with each other, documenting the daily growth of their own food-bearing vegetation on the site and comparing their own growing methods to those of other users. Users would not only be able to post documentation of their own garden to the site, but would also be able to view the resources that others post, including photos, video, commentary, and instruction. Unlike most game play, the website would be creating a competition based on points given to users deemed by heir use of certain behaviors both within the online space and in the real world of gardening. The drive behind the competition would be to encourage users to post their own original content and feedback to other users, as well as points given for solving particular problems given within the competition, or organizing community events associated with the game and with cultivating food.

While many university projects in the SSI initiative work with stakeholders, their approaches are often expert and research-driven, rather than grass-roots, emergent solutions, This bottom-up project taps the many-to-many New Media approach to complement the expert solution with a fun, youth and community-centered method of conducting field research. The goal is to make gardening and learning about gardening social and fun for a generation raised on gaming. Conversely, the project turns gaming practices into an asset for community building and ecological regeneration.


The main objectives include:


  • Fun – In the spirit of gaming, GIY will be fun to play. Having fun as motivation to play will make this game appealing to youth as well as seasoned gardeners.

  • Gardens/Food – Even if you aren’t the top gardener on GIY, you still receive a prize: the food that you have grown in a garden built with your own two hands.

  • Community – GIY will allow gardeners to seek each other out to trade ideas and advice about how to improve the health and yield of their gardens. In encouraging a space of sharing information online, people will be able to connect with each other in the physical world to visit each other’s gardens, collaborate, or even organize events.

  • Knowledge – Through working in their gardens, and documenting the experiences that they encounter there within the game, the players will create a database of local gardening knowledge. The game will also create awareness of the health, economic, and environmental benefits of growing your own food.

Budget
The budget includes expenses relating to equipment, website costs, gardening supplies, and materials for print promotions. Equipment necessary will include 3 iPod Touches for the use of student gardeners. Web site costs will include those for the purchase of a domain name, and for additional web programming. Seeds and gardening supplies are included in the budget, as well as printing costs for promotional materials.


3 iPod Touches

$600

Web Domain Registration

$20

Additional Web Programming

$200

Gardening Supplies

$200

Print Promotional Materials

$80

Total:

$1100


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