article / 3 December 2015

Gaming for Good: Minecraft and Quiz Up

Can games have real world impacts on issues like the illegal wildlife trade? In part two of his case study for the Gaming for Conservation Group, Peter Jacobs discusses United for Wildlife's efforts to engage young people in conservation through partnerships with Quiz Up and Minecraft. 

Why Gaming?

Gaming is a perfect way to reach large numbers of young people, and a perfect fit for our target audience of 15-30 year olds who are not engaged with, or even aware of, conservation.

  • They tend to have vibrant communities on their own social media channels and forums who are very engaged in the game, and receptive to the game doing “good things”
  • Gaming companies tend to be well resourced, and can supply content in the form of video and animations to use. This is key consideration for NfP organisations lacking large, multi disciplinary teams
  • Media interest: The media love a story about a tie in between wildlife organisations and gaming world which makes it easier to get additional earned media exposure
  • Engaging social media content: Games lend themselves to engagement, and screenshots / videos etc are ideal for driving engagement across your channels
  • Fun! Conservation information always runs the risk of being filtered out by audiences with supporter fatigue – by introducing it into a fun game it’s easier to build interest and engagement
  • Communities – Games tend to have a highly engaged community on social and owned platforms, working with them means you can get your message to a new audience, who is highly receptive.

Minecraft “We are the Rangers”


We worked with United for Wildlife partner ZSL to create a map based on the Kenyan savannah, with quests around key species and Ranger activity. Launched 17 October 2015. Working with YouTuber, pro minecrafters and the minecraft community to build credibility and engagement. Minecraft is perfectly suited as it allows players to fully interact with their environment – we have signposted conservation links throughout, and Ranger Non player characters (NPCs) give quest information as well as conservation info.

Learning from the previous gaming activity, we aim to use this as an ongoing engagement tool, with regular updates rather than short term media spikes.


  • In 3 weeks from release, map downloaded 2,150 times
  • Youtubers creating their own playthroughs and releasing them to their community generating over 50,000 views
  • Reached 975k people in 4 days in South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Vietnam, Thailand, UK & US across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • 113k engagements from this reach across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram
  • Traffic to We are the rangers site up 335% month on month
  • Page views up 265% month on month

As it only recently launched, the stats are focussed around the map launch.


This campaign revealed 2 things:

  1. The importance to us of taking opportunities that we identify, even if the project is in itself a learning curve – we have had to update and adapt our plans as the scale of the opportunity became clear
  2. The importance of bringing together great stakeholders from the digital world such as YouTubers, minecrafters and young digital maker organisations – credibility and community are the 2 primary aims

As campaign is ongoing, it is not possible to review in entirety, however it’s clear that the level of buzz and engagement is high. The challenge now is to ensure that we invest in this and build relationships that will allow us to continue a credible engagement in the Minecraft world and allow us to get our message across to new young people.

United for Wildlife partnered with Young Rewired State to run a build day at Mozilla Foundation’s offices to celebrate the launch of the “We are the Rangers” Minecraft map. There were 20 young digital makers in the room all of who were members of teams looking at developing quests around our key species (rhino, elephant, lion and pangolin). The map aims to engage young people in conservation through gaming, and to help them to gain a better understanding of the problems facing Rangers, who are the front line in the fight against poaching.

Quiz Up “Wildlife in Crisis”


To coincide with the launch of Module 3 of the “Introducing conservation” online course, we worked with United for Wildlife partner IUCN to develop the questions for a “Wildlife in crisis” topic for the QuizUp app



  • At the time of writing, “Wildlife in Crisis” topic had only been live for 2 weeks, but has gathered 4,900 followers and been played over 100,000 times by 35,000 unique users in 6 languages
  • We use a  branded call to action frame once players have completed their game to drive people to the United for Wildlife “Introducing conservation” online course


Trivia games and online learning seem to be a perfect fit, and we’re very hopeful that QuizUp’s 20 million monthly users will take “Wildlife in Crisis” to their hearts and get involved. A key point in this is that it allows users to challenge their contacts to play – allowing conservation supporters to spread the word, while playing the game.


The possibilities of using gaming to create and develop new audiences is apparent from the numbers you can reach but there are things that need to be considered to ensure that campaigns are successful:

  • Credibility is key – involvement of the gaming community and the community experts on the company side is critical. Sometimes its necessary to tone down your messaging to better reach people.
  • Community will drive the success (or otherwise) of your project – involve the community as early as possible on what they want to see, get them to help test the game if possible
  • If you get community messaging right, they’ll promote it for you through twitch streams, YouTube “lets plays” and screenshots shared on social. On Minecraft – community created lets plays have generated in excess of 50,000 views on YouTube
  • Time limited vs ongoing engagement – some campaigns lend themselves to a time limitation, allowing your messaging to be more urgent while others are better served to be ongoing, with a measured comms plan driving interest
  • Donation, donation, donation – United for Wildlife does not seek public donations, rather we look for people to engage and advocate our messages, but the potential to raise large sums is there. This is illustrated by a WWF Runescape project focussed on Big Cats in June 2015 which was reported to have raised in excess of £67,000

About the Author

In his role, Peter Jacobs is responsible for all the digital, social and gaming work done by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.  He works across all their areas of interest (military, young people and conservation), but conservation is the area which is his main focus.

As part of the #WhoseSideAreYouOn campaign they've been working with the gaming industry to create partnerships which allow them to reach large audiences of new people. They've run campaigns with Runescape, Angry Birds Friends and QuizUp and have developed a conservation themed Minecraft map called We are the Rangers (

What is United for Wildlife?

United for Wildlife is an unprecedented alliance between seven of the world’s most influential conservation organisations, led by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. 

The partnership between Conservation International, Fauna & Flora International, International Union for Conservation of Nature, The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, WWF-UK, the Zoological Society of London and the Royal Foundation will lead the way to substantially increase the global response to major conservation crises.

United for Wildlife aims to reach 15-30 year olds around the world, in order to engage them in the fight to end the illegal wildlife trade. We’ve been using social media, ambassadors and gaming to reach young people not engaged in conservation and to get our message across.

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