Gaming and virtual reality (VR) could bridge the gap between urban societies and nature, thereby paving the way to insect conservation by the means of education, curiosity and life-like participation. This is what Florida International University's team strive to achieve by developing a VR game dedicated to insect and plant species. Focused on imperiled butterflies, their innovative idea is Butterfly World 1.0. Butterfly World 1.0 is an adventure game designed to engage its users in simulated exploration and education. Set in the subtropical dry forest of the Florida Keys, Butterfly World draws the players into an immersive virtual environment where they learn about relationships between butterflies, plants, and invasive species.
While exploring the set, they interact with and learn about the federally endangered Schaus' swallowtail butterfly, the invasive graceful twig ant, native and exotic plants, and several other butterflies inhabiting the dry forest ecosystem. Other nature-related VR experiences, including conservation awareness and educational programs, rely on passive observations with minimal direct interactions between participants and the virtual environment. The major advantage is that this type of interactive, computer-generated experience allows for people to observe phenomena otherwise impossible or difficult to witness, such as forest succession over long periods of time, rare butterflies in tropical dry forests, or the effects of invasive species against native wildlife.