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Finding a special item that unlocks a secret game easter-egg, unique set of features or character health benefits can significantly expand game play mechanics. What if we connected these experiences to real-world impacts?

Finding that special item to enhance your gameplay has been one of the oldest game mechanics. Few gamers are immune to that feeling of thrill one gets when they obtain the item they have been fawning over for weeks, perhaps months. The longer desired, and the rarer, the more valuable the item seems to be.

Sometimes such items are purely decorative – the so-called 'skins' – yet they can imply great value to the players. There is nothing quite like getting that perfect-fit item that gives your character the look you want, a finishing flourish to the weapon hit, or even an in-game emoji that other players don't have. In space games, the look of your ship is sometimes referred to as 'space barbie' – and often coveted by players that comment on it as the 'end game'.

Getting rare or personalized items can therefore be, in some sense, considered to be at the very heart of gaming. Yet, what if the items the gamers obtain were to have some relationship to the real world – in such a way where, that relationship is beneficial to nature?

This would be a 'game-changer' – all pun intended. Both for the gaming communities – who would suddenly be able to positively affect the world – and for the natural ecologies, that would benefit from the gaming efforts.

We can imagine going even one step further – and award gamers and gaming communities special items when certain positive milestones are reached in the natural ecologies. Say when a heritage woodland is regenerated, when a marshland is restored so that it can continue to sequester carbon, or when an area of ocean that a pod of dolphins needs for their survival is declared as an ecologically protected zone.

When we award gamers with special and unique items based on in-game achievements – that correlate to the real-world positive impacts – we can create ecologically sound virtuous cycles.

This is a new way of connecting gaming and virtual words to real-life ecological impacts.

Perhaps with special items – and secret worlds – we will change the world; one quest at a time.

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