Chasing Digital Creatures is Old News to US Forest Service

Chasing Digital Creatures is Old News to U.S. Forest Service - Discovery Agents turns augmented reality mobile gaming into education

Washington DC - A year before augmented reality arrived on the scene, the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) had embraced the power and allure of technology to get kids moving and learning. The agency’s leadership recognized that lifestyles and family preferences are evolving rapidly and as a result, methods for engaging kids outdoors must also adapt. To capture the imagination of today’s youth and families, they partnered with Discovery Agents to customize an augmented reality game as dynamic as the huge and diverse national forest system. The Discovery Agents mobile game, available for both Apple and Android devices, is allowing families to explore and learn during hundreds of millions of visits annually.

Augmented reality technology was a perfect solution to allow interpretation and learning to be distributed across the nearly 200 million acres of the national forest system. The innovative and fundamentally different approach was developed for national implementation last year. This spring, ARC, the powerhouse behind “Great Outdoors Month,” and the USFS introduced Discovery Agents. The game placed augmented reality style technology into the hands of agency educators and partners, allowing them to reach a broader youth audience and support President Obama’s Every Kid in a Park initiative.

Derrick Crandall, President of the American Recreation Coalition, said: “Discovery Agents is a unique and potent tool for those of us dedicated to continuing the tradition of outdoors in our lives. It harnesses the power of mobile, geo-triggered technology and adds the attractions of video gaming to the healthy fun of time outdoors and is a relevant strategy for storytelling and learning. For parents, for teachers and for the parks community, it is a resource for harnessing technology. We were proud to honor Discovery Agents with one of our prestigious Beacon Awards – a national award recognizing the use of technology to enhance outdoor fun and improve recreation program management on public lands and waters.”

Unlike other popular augmented reality apps, Discovery Agents doesn’t require wifi and encourages players to become fully aware and present in their surroundings. To unlock the hidden geo-triggered challenges the player has to move along a predetermined route where the game’s educational content is packaged in immersive challenges that tap into real world experiences. The gaming experience is enhanced with cutting edge technology that uses tools of the trade like augmented reality, audio and visual matching and an engaging narrative. “Discovery Agents enables the Forest Service to ensure that kids are using gaming technology to enhance their outdoor experience in safe and educational ways -- features which really are important to parents,” explains Mary Clark, the CEO of Discovery Agents.

The explosive launch of more recent augmented reality games indicates a dramatic shift in the way the world views mobile gaming, and validates this type of platform as a viable delivery system for educational content. Like other augmented reality games, Discovery Agents is an immersive experiential game that uses innovative technology to deliver a compelling and dynamic story that motivates kids to learn and move. Discovery Agents takes this concept a step further and enables the Forest Service to enhance learning with real world experiences --encouraging kids to use their senses to explore the world around them, dive deeper into nature and reap all the benefits of discovering their National Forests and Grasslands. Plans are now underway for further sites in the National Forests and Grasslands across the country, including high visitation areas such as campgrounds, ski areas and visitor services areas. Visit and download the game for free on the App Store or Google Play.