Gaming for Good: Runescape and Angry Birds

Can games raise awareness of conservation issues like the illegal wildlife trade? In part one of his case study for the Gaming for Conservation Group, Peter Jacobs discusses how United for Wildlife is partnering with the Runescape and Angry Birds games to engage young people in conservation. 

Date published: 2015/11/25

Why Gaming?

Gaming is a perfect way to reach large numbers of young people, and a perfect fit for our target audience of 15-30 year olds who are not engaged with, or even aware of, conservation.

  • They tend to have vibrant communities on their own social media channels and forums who are very engaged in the game, and receptive to the game doing “good things”
  • Gaming companies tend to be well resourced, and can supply content in the form of video and animations to use. This is key consideration for NfP organisations lacking large, multi disciplinary teams
  • Media interest: The media love a story about a tie in between wildlife organisations and gaming world which makes it easier to get additional earned media exposure
  • Engaging social media content: Games lend themselves to engagement, and screenshots / videos etc are ideal for driving engagement across your channels
  • Fun! Conservation information always runs the risk of being filtered out by audiences with supporter fatigue – by introducing it into a fun game it’s easier to build interest and engagement
  • Communities – Games tend to have a highly engaged community on social and owned platforms, working with them means you can get your message to a new audience, who is highly receptive.

Runescape “Royal Rhino” Campaign


Working with the worlds largest MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) – players answer questions on the Rhino crisis. Answer 4 of 10 to get white rhino, answer 7 of 10 to get rarer “royal” black rhino. In game the Rhinos gave a bonus “buff” to make them desirable.

UfW's young conservationists Trang Nguyen and Mauricio Guerra were immortalised in the game after having their voices recorded for use as special characters. They interacted with other players in a game location called Burthorpe, providing facts and explaining the plight of the rhinos and the dangers they face from poachers in the wild.


  • 61% of Daily Active users are engaging with content (91k users per day)

  • 115k White Rhino Unlocks

  • 39k Black Rhino Unlocks

  • 681k questions answered

  • Gaming community referred to it as “Rhinoscape”

  • 2 Hour Q&A in Runescape forums with conservationists


This was a pilot, and although we were delighted with the level of engagement, the one learning we took was that we should make more of the reach into the community. It was an important insight for us that sharing on social was much less than the sharing in Runescape community forums.

Angry birds Friends “Rolling with the Pangolins”


Angry Birds have a huge audience for the films they produce, both on their YouTube channel and their own channel. We wanted to leverage this to run a pure awareness piece on the pangolin. The pangolin is the most trafficked mammal in the world, and highly endangered, but suffers from a lack of public awareness. By using Rovio’s cartoon style we aimed to take the characterful Pangolin and position it as a cute and desirable creature that players would want to learn more about. The campaign ran for 7 days only.


  • Picked up and shared by YouTube, Google UK, Mail Online, BBC Newsbeat (Youth), itv news, sky news, the Telegraph, NBC news, Huff Post France,
  • Follow up articles on the plight of the Pangolins published by The Telegraph and BBC. Telegraph readers joined together to adopt one
  • 2.16 million video views
  • 10.3 million game sessions
  • 61.5k twitter impressions
  • 683% rise in sessions on United for month on month
  • 211% rise in page views on United for month on month
  • 29% new sessions (i.e. new visitors to United for


The aim of this was simple – to get the Pangolin in the public eye and get people talking about them before they disappeared. The metric for this was reach, and conversion to further information (our site or other sites). By this measurement we succeeded and have seen a real increase in pangolin content around the web which although we cannot directly associate to our campaign, we were definitely a contributing factor.

Gaming for Conservation, Part Two: Minecraft and Quiz Up

Next week in part two of his Gaming for Conservation case study, Peter will continue his discussion of the United for Wildlife partnerships with the gaming industry. Check back in to hear the big lessons the team has taken away about making a conservation gaming campaign successful. 


About the Author

In his role, Peter Jacobs is responsible for all the digital, social and gaming work done by The Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry.  He works across all their areas of interest (military, young people and conservation), but conservation is the area which is his main focus.

As part of the #WhoseSideAreYouOn campaign they've been working with the gaming industry to create partnerships which allow them to reach large audiences of new people. They've run campaigns with Runescape, Angry Birds Friends and QuizUp and have developed a conservation themed Minecraft map called We are the Rangers (

What is United for Wildlife?

United for Wildlife is an unprecedented alliance between seven of the world’s most influential conservation organisations, led by the Royal Foundation of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry. 

The partnership between Conservation International, Fauna & Flora International, International Union for Conservation of Nature, The Nature Conservancy, Wildlife Conservation Society, WWF-UK, the Zoological Society of London and the Royal Foundation will lead the way to substantially increase the global response to major conservation crises.

United for Wildlife aims to reach 15-30 year olds around the world, in order to engage them in the fight to end the illegal wildlife trade. We’ve been using social media, ambassadors and gaming to reach young people not engaged in conservation and to get our message across.

Could gaming help your work? Join Peter and his collaborators in the community to find out more. 

Continue the discussion… Gaming for Conservation