Spreading the message of rewilding and conservation through play.
The Wild Games are games inspired by nature. We have a variety of activities such as predator-prey tag rugby, seed dispersing relay races and frisbee golf, and Rooting races. Imagine playing sports on sports pitches that are havens for nature rather green grass monocultures!
It is worrying that instead of playing free and exploring the natural world around them, many children spend most of their free time indoors in front of TV and computer screens. More and more young people are growing up with very limited knowledge of the environment, and we are now beginning to realise how this lack of contact with nature at a young age may lead to behavioural problems in adolescence and later in life. It is therefore imperative to encourage children to play outside and interact with nature for healthy development.
In our Wild Games idea we tried to develop a range of activities which integrate physical exercise with learning about the living beings around us and how they interact with each other.
With increased rates of sedentary lifestyle and lack of physical activity, childhood obesity has been steadily becoming a growing problem in developed countries such as the UK. At the same time, our young generation is faced with becoming ever more cut off from nature. It is safe to say that not enough people are aware of the both physical and mental health benefits of interacting with the natural environment our bodies and brains have evolved in for millennia.
The idea of “Wild Games” combines outdoor team sports-based physical activity with active nature restoration.
In nature a top predator,like a wolf,can have a big impact on all the other plants and animals in the ecosystem. They can exert this influence by hunting large herbivores like red deer. Wolves, if allowed to get to high enough densities, can reduce the numbers of these herbivores and change their behaviour because the herbivores fear going into certain places. This creates a variation in grazing pressure across the landscape and allows shrubs and trees to establish in some places but not in others,creating lots of different types of habitat. Different predators have different and important.This project proposes creating a game out of these interactions for children to play and learn about nature.
Predator-Prey Rugby is a team tag game to be played in beautiful natural settings such as unmown fields, woodland and parkland –a nice contrast to the typical mown field.
The 2 teams symbolise native red squirrels and invasive North American grey squirrels. Points are scored by collecting artificial acorns and bringing them back to each teams’ “nest” or base. During the game, the players are “hunted” by 2 pine marten players. In nature pine martens are more successful hunters of grey squirrels than of the native red squirrels. Grey squirrels have first encountered pine marten less than 200 years ago, which is very recent in evolutionary terms,meaning they have not had time to adapt. This can help red squirrels out compete the non-native grey squirrel.
To symbolise this advantage in our game, upon being tagged by a “marten”, grey players have to stand still counting to 20 before they can return to the game, as opposed to 10 for reds. The red team starts the game with 2 less players than greys. 30 acorns will be distributed across the playing area prior to the game’s commencement.
Seed dispersing Frisbee/Discus
For this part of our “Wild Games”, we have focused on bird-mediated seed dispersal. Our original idea for the Wild Games was for it to be modelled on the Olympic Games, with an environmental twist –however in the design process we became aware of the limitations, and decided to settle for more spontaneous activities that can be carried out in various “natural” settings such as unmown fields, woodland and such.
In our initial designs, what was to become a discus, ended up as a Frisbee –which we discovered was more versatile and works better from a practical point of view. Fitted with an inner seed compartment and holes around the rim of the Frisbee, as it spins flying through the air, it expels seeds with the centrifugal force, dispersing them over a distance. This is reflective of the way that birds disperse seeds in their digestive tracts over wide areas –as well as informing the players about this important ecosystem function, they can have a little go at fulfilling it themselves.Children can compete to see how far they can throw the Frisbee or use it in a game of ultimate Frisbee.
Seed Dispersing Relay Baton
Inspired by the seed pods and inflorescences of wildflowers such as vetch and field poppies, our designers have produced a relay baton, with an integrated seed holding and dispersing compartment. As they are used, they disperse seeds of native wild plants through holes distributed across the compartment wall.
Seed dispersal is an important ecosystem function, and many of the large animals which carried plant seeds on their fur or in their stomachs across vast distances have been hunted to extinction by humans.