After checking out GreenYrLife, an addictive new Facebook app that combines entertainment with education about living a green lifestyle, we at Earth911 wanted to know more — after all, we’re all about environmental education with a dose of entertainment as well. So we caught up with Catherine Tait, chair and co-founder of iThentic.com, the digital content company behind GreenYrLife, to talk about what makes this game different than any you’ve played before.
Earth911: For those who haven’t seen it yet, what is GreenYrLife?
Catherine Tait: It’s a Facebook game that we developed to capture the enthusiasm of the FarmVille experience but to direct the idea of a game where people are able to be rewarded not only for virtual actions but real-life actions related to the daily greening of their lives. We wanted to create a Facebook game that would look and feel different; we added some fun smaller micro-games but also a video series to engage viewers and players and go deeper into the subject matter.
All the information we’re trying to provide is really handy, digestible pieces of information. Our approach was to take the scariness out of climate change and take the tedium out of making good environmental choices and try to translate that into something fun and easy that will have a benefit.
E911: How long did it take to create the app?
CT: From start to finish, almost three years. Canada Media Fund dedicates a portion of its financing to innovative digital applications, so we went through that process and were awarded funding. We also wanted to put in place a partner such as the David Suzuki Foundation, which we donate a portion of our proceeds to. Also, our videos were carefully researched and have a lot of different moving parts, so that all took time.
E911: What are the topics of the video series you’ve added into the game?
CT: First, “GreenTips” includes very short tips on actions you can take to green your life.
“The Dirt on Green” is more investigative in approach. Each episode starts with a question that comes from the community and touches on choices that people might be making, such as cloth diapers vs. store-bought diapers. It’s hosted by Scientific American journalist Christie Nicholson.
The final series, “Today on Earth,” was produced with David Suzuki’s daughter Sarika Cullis-Suzuki, a marine biologist and scientist in her own right. It’s a factual-based series of information on environmental issues.
E911: There are lots of games and apps and things to do online these days. What makes GreenYrLife stand out?
CT: What we tried to do is make this game, which has a social issue at its core, as entertaining as possible. We hope people in the environmental community will be our first core users and then it will be played in high schools and other educational environments. At its core, it is a Facebook game with some of the similar experiences as others, but the difference is in the video and multiple points of entry to be engaged.
E911: Why was this project something iThentic wanted to take on?
CT: Our company is probably best known for narrative-based scripted series, and we’re storytellers at heart. This is more of an educational, factual-based digital product, but we felt if we could bring our storytelling skills to the challenge, we could advance the conversation on reversing climate change.
We care about the environment as a group of people. We asked ourselves, “How can we make this subject that’s often terrifying and vast and makes people feel helpless more digestible and accessible?” The scope of the game is more far-reaching than similar games you might find online today.
For more about GreenYrLife, check out our article that breaks down the game’s features.