Photograph by Stefan Irvine/LightRocket via Getty Images
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Floating plastic and styrofoam trash polluting a corner of Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong.
Photograph by Stefan Irvine/LightRocket via Getty Images

New Game Asks Players to Clean the Ocean of Plastic

It also highlights pressing issues like warming oceans and coral bleaching.

Developers of the popular smartphone game “Dumb Ways to Die” are highlighting what they say is another dumb way to bring an end. The new game “Dumb Ways to Kill the Ocean” highlights three big issues facing the world's oceans: plastic, warming, and coral degradation.

It starts with plastic. The player has 20 seconds to “grab” as much plastic as they can by clicking on pieces of debris.

Then it moves to ocean warming, and players are required to unscramble an ocean-themed word.

The third mini-game asks users to color pieces of coral.

All-in-all, the average adult can move through the game in under a minute. But the game is more about education than giving users the chance to win or lose.

Conceptualized by the company Playmob, the game aims to drive home a message in a way that text on a screen might not.

Between each of the three mini-games, users are asked to commit to changing their behavior in some way. Using a reusable water bottle, or wasting less water, for example, are options users can select. (In fairness, it also allows users to say they will do none of those things.)

“Through interactive storytelling, gaming provides us with an opportunity to have a two-way conversation with players,” says Nisha Kadaba from Playmob. “[The game] enables them to learn as they play through gameplay actions and consequences and allows us to understand what players understand and care about.”

Playmob aligns their mission with the United Nation's Sustainable Development Goals, which address a broad range of issues like poverty, inequality, climate change, and hunger.

This recent campaign, however, is particularly timely.

This past Earth Day, plastic was the major cry around which environmentalists rallied, and National Geographic recently launched our own campaign called 'Planet or Plastic?'.

It's a staggeringly large issue. Already, five trillion pieces of plastic are floating through the ocean. And the material is such an integral part of our lives, it's hard to imagine life without it.

“Dumb Ways to Kill the Ocean” isn't the first game to use competition to stoke the fires of good will. The concept is a growing trend among brands and social causes looking for new ways to promote their initiatives.

You can play the game on your desktop here, and visit National Geographic for more on ocean plastic.