Abstract: As humans migrate into cities, the opportunity for interactions between individuals and nature diminishes. Nature encounters in cities, are increasingly occurring in human managed wildlife areas e.g. city parks or reserves, offering a polarised perception of biodiversity. This alienation of nature is termed, by Robert M Pyle, as the ‘extinction of experience’. When people are no longer actively engaged in nature, a lack of awareness and knowledge towards local wildlife arises, resulting in demands to reconnect people to nature. The paper documents the Animal Diplomacy Bureau (ADB), a series of designed game experiments providing people with agency over their nature.
The games offer means for players to gain in-depth knowledge about local wildlife purposes in city parks, whilst creating a platform to discuss their concerns about a ‘more-than human city’. The games use digital & non-digital roleplay envisioning alternate worlds, site and species- specific stories, a mix of cooperative and competitive group dynamics and in-depth discussions. The process opened up the agency for how players would approach the issue of engaging nature to provoke new design responses.
The study developed a framework for playful and self-exploratory design approaches bridging people to nature. The game's methods were developed with expert peers, design led research and a series of public engagements. ADB's framework, transformed research tools into instruments of agency by giving players the knowledge to understand and be directly involved in the imagining of a more wildlife friendly city. The authors believe the lessons can be translated into other fields.