The concept of MEGA is surrounded by game-design elements and e-learning in order to raise awareness and use play to create social and environmental change. The gamification platform is meant to enhance creativity and responsibility as the gamers need to accomplish missions through steps you would do in the real world, outside of your normal routine – and comfort zone, we would add. “I believe it is very easy to find like-minded people online. What we needed was to add modern education through technology in order to focus on the environmental and social aspects”, explains Iscenco.
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The MEGA project started in 2013, and since then various gamified missions have been accomplished, such as water and waste management or raising awareness of massive deforestation effects. Alexandr Iscenco mentions that the team, which is composed of 6 members, is focusing on the issues that the country is facing in the most immediate way. On the platform, the visitor is nominated to become either a Secret Green Agent or a Mission Provider. The latest can be actually a real organization or company that provides challenges and is looking for the creative solutions a Green Agent would have to accomplish. The dose of realism built into these missions requires dedicated gamers who keep themselves grounded and committed to add value and share experiences for the benefit of other gamers.
Despite its noble objectives, the team has faced scepticism about its objectives from the NGOs which are MEGA’s main customers. “We are facing challenges every day. For instance, our customers can be very sceptical when it comes to social impact results. If they invest in our platform, they want a 10 times payback in a short time, which actually is quite impossible to get”, argues Mr. Iscenco. The financial challenge also derives from the fact that personal funds were made available for the platform until it could generate revenue through sponsorship and through the customers who became interested in its services.
This lack of awareness demands pedagogical skills and patience to reach all sectors of the public. “We were surprised to find that some people cannot even conceive that something can be done to protect forests. They may think that they are protected by default because that is nature’s way”, comments Iscenco. The MEGA team is therefore also involved in real projects, for instance by explaining and applying the concept of gamification to environmental education in schools. Game-based learning is actually part of the debate surrounding the future of education in the digital era.
MEGA has the advantage of creating a community of young social activists and environmental enthusiasts who are committed to having a real impact and putting in place sustainable environmental solutions. Since its creation, the platform has hosted 50 social and environmental missions and 18 training sessions and has engaged 80 Green Agents. Moreover, the platform is linking young specialists with organisations and companies to produce real-world value, which can also contribute to a certain level of employability due to the expertise gained.
Plans for the upcoming months comprise more e-design and enhanced cooperation in multiple countries from the European – especially the Eastern European – area. The organization is already actively collaborating with NGOs from Ukraine, Romania, Estonia, The Netherlands, Hungary, Denmark, and Sweden.