My Green World is an Australian-based wildlife and environmental education and conservation organisation, partnered with 17 global charity. My Green World develops innovative educational platforms and resources that support global wildlife and environmental conservation, aiming to engage and inspire a new generation of young global citizens to participate in unique charitable initiatives and educational programs.


My Green World
UX, Service design, Gamification, Education design


We were given the task of re-designing World of the Wild, an educational freemium game for children, aimed at raising awareness and engaging them in wildlife conservation. An MVP of the game already existed but failed to capture the children’s imagination and was not being downloaded or raising vital revenue for My Green World.

The brief was to add more gameplay features and elements to make the game more exciting and engaging for children and to generate much needed funds for the charity.

Team: 3 Designers.

My Role: Prototyping , Wireframing, User Testing, User Research,
Research (freemuim model, education, literacy), Story Concept Map, Onboarding.



Prior to the initial client meeting we conducted some preliminary research to understand to understand the entire organisation, how they operated, the channels they used and how their brand was perceived. This allowed us to go into the medium with some knowledge and ideas that would give out client some confidence of our abilities.

We also all played the game so we could discuss it immediately in more detail.


Although the brief asked us to design the game ‘World of the Wild’, the research and map allowed us to gain some context for the game, the stakeholders, and the best way to design the entire service and experience.


The initial meeting with Natalie was insightful. The ‘World of the Wild’ game was her idea, her project and she was the number one stakeholder. We tried to understand the history of the game, why it existed and where she envisaged it going.

Her key points we took away from the meeting:

  • She was the key stakeholder
  • The game was not providing enough revenue
  • The game needed more features to be a success
  • Kids 7-16 were the target demographic


A major part of the comparative research was playing the most successful and trending freemium games. A little more exciting than the the usual research but it was invaluable as it gave me an appreciation for the complexity of the games.

Interweaving the gameplay with the social, monetary and education aspects of the game was extremely complex.



I researched the best practices  for the freemium game model because I felt the current MVP was not focusing on the user at all and was just trying to extract revenue from the player.




  • Players buy because they want to, not because they have to
  • Buy in-game items not required for play, but to enhance the experience.
  • Avoid pay walls
  • Early Stage Retention:
    • Onboarding
  • Mid Stage Retention:
    • Allow player to revisit content
    • PvP (player competition)
  • Late Stage Retention:
    • Late-game content (game becomes more fun over time)
  • Encourage users to invite friends
  • Incentivised invites (reward for inviting others)
  • In-game sharing (in organic gameplay)



We conducted design research into the anthropology of gaming, gaining a good understanding of the motivations and triggers of successful gameplay.


We researched the work of Yu-Kai Chou, one of the earliest pioneers of gamification. We would use his Octalysis model heavily for comparative research, user research, qualitative data analysis and the design of the game.


We research user/player types in gamified systems. We referenced a model researched by Richard Bartle that uses personality types and participant psychology to classify players based on their gaming preference.

There are player types:

  1. Achievers
  2. Explorers
  3. Socialisers
  4. Killers

We references these types whilst researching, creating personas and designing for engagement.



At this point we realised the current revenue model & game mechanics were flawed. The current version of the game was being designed solely for children, however one of the primary objectives of the game was to raise revenue.

Our research showed that children are the lowest spending demographic, with 25-35yo players being the highest.

We would need to design the game not only to educate children but also generate revenue from adult players aged 25-35 if the game is to be successful.

The project quickly went from a design project to primarily a research project. The game would need to be stripped back to its concept, and a solid foundation (game design plan) needed to be created taking both demographics into account.



Four personas were developed as it was vital to consider each of the following when designing the game, as their educational levels and motivations for playing and spending were quite different.


Primary School
No Money


Aaron's Mother
Has Money


Secondary School
Limited Money


Has Money



To get to the bottom of the issues with the game we needed to test it with the learners, 7-16 year olds. We wanted to test them in their natural environment so we asked their parents to conduct the interviews ensuring they would feel comfortable and we would get as truthful as possible answer insights.


We testing with the primary spending demographic to understand their motivations to play and purchase and also where the game was falling short of players being engaged and spending.





User testing indicated that the current onboarding really failed to provide it’s core services. It failed to emotionally engage the player in the story and also failed to effectively teach the vital skills and game mechanics essential for game play.

It also failed to introduced the players to the game world so when they were placed in the game they felt lost and confused. This was a massive issue and caused every single players to drop-off at the beginning of the scaffolding stage.

The game introduced pay walls far to early before the player was even engaged enough with the story to have the incentive purchase. This continually left a bad taste in the players mouths and they quickly exited the game around the 10min mark of scaffolding.

Another concern was the gameplay features such as animals, threats and ecosystem elements. The gameplay was too predictable, relying on the player to create all the win states, rather than the game also interacting and giving back to the player and story.


We created a journey map based on the user research, testing and the Octalysis framework. We mapped out the results of our World of the Wild research against what a successful freemium game should look like.

This allowed us to compare and see where our game was falling short.



When playing the game,I don't feel engaged in the story,so I have no incentive to make in app purchases,which makes the current game impossible to play.


I want to feel engaged in the story,so I have incentive to in-app purchase,making the game fun and addictive.


Before we went into the design phase I thought it would be important to research how children learn about the environment. I also researched  best practices for educating in regards to environmental conservation.


I researched the best methods of encouraging environmental literacy in children. A great resource was David Sobel’s book ‘Children and Nature Design Principles’.

“with play young children will develop relationships with animals and natural places and grow to feel empathy for them”.

He spoke about empowering children through environmental based education by methods such as:

1. Choice 2. Responsibility 3. Participation in decision making 4. Feedback with results


Engaging people in conservation.
Loss-framed Messaging:
  • Describing the costs of inaction with a description of how to execute the desired action
  • Inspire action in the near future
Gain-framed Messaging:
  • Describing the benefits of action with a description of why the reader ought to act
  • Inspire behavioural change in the distant future



In order to work on game we needed to modularise the game into the following categories:

  • Onboarding
  • Game story
  • Social/ Sharing
  • Donation
  • Animal rescue
  • Education


We conducted a design studio for each module and then split the 6 modules between the 3 or us to design and research. As these modules do not work in isolation in the gameplay we had to constantly be sharing and discussing our work.


I researched ways to engage the the player by classic story telling techniques used in film, theatre and literature. This arc may occur in a particular play scene, level or throughout the entire gameplay duration.



I brainstormed ideas for animals to be saved, real world environmental disasters and how these threats could be represented in the game’s story.

  • Villain
  • Conservation Issue
  • Threat representation
  • Prevention action
  • Solution Action
  • Corresponding animals


I created this map to understand how we could represent the story arc within the game mechanics and gameplay, mapping out:

  • Villain
  • Conservation Issue
  • Threat representation
  • Prevention action
  • Solution Action
  • Corresponding animals



The current onboarding was mapped out and dissected to understand exactly where it was failing. I realised the current concept needed to be scrapped and a completely new concept was introduced also with a new character as the narrator.


We also discussed a way to reduce the amount of copy on each screen and make the tone more conversational.

I tested this via the ‘Wizard of OZ ‘technique and found that small amounts of copy per speech bubble (with more click throughs) increased the engagement of players in the narrative.




User testing showed that the Panda introducing the game story was confusing the players and failing to engage them in the story. It looked too relaxed when introducing the treat and players were unsure of their identity in the game. Where they also an animal, or are they saving the animals?

To combat this I introduced a new narrator character, a female ranger, to introduce a strong and positive female role model for children. Testing showed it was a stronger call to action character and allowed us to position the player as a junior ranger who was gaining experience through gameplay to become an expert conservationist.

Our research also showed that younger children were not engaging with the narrative of the story as their knowledge and awareness of complex environmental issues were still developing. To combat this I introduced some villains as the face of the issues that kids would respond to, a classic tale of good vs. evil.

Testing showed that this was not only successful in engaging kids from 7-16 but also older players who would be the primary revenue source.

The tutorials on gameplay mechanics in the current game were just a series of explanation at the beginning. This resulted in players being lost at the games beginning, as they were not engaged and failed to read or retain the information.

Inspired by games such as Hey Day and Zoo Story we changed these explanations into active gameplay tutorials where the players where actively performing the tasks in the actual game world. This also allowed players to become familiar with the world.

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I created an onboarding framework for World of the Wild as I knew that at a later stage of design there maybe a need to alter specific threats, characters or mechanics and I wanted it to be easy to pivot with ideas within a proven structure.



We explored several avenues for monetising the app including:

  • Purchasing virtual currency
  • Donations to charities
  • Advertising alternatives

As all the proceeds of the game goe to supports My Green World and other NFP’s, we decided to call all of the inn-app purchasing ‘donations’. Out research showed that this would decrease the purchasing barrier, especially for parents and adult players.


We created some user flows for the purchase of virtual currency to combat an environmental threat. We wireframed, prototyped and user tested this flow.


The testing revealed several usability issues that either hadn’t been resolved or issues which could improve the gaming experience for our personas.


I have broken the user testing results down into our existing personas to make easier to analyse.




As Aaron has no access to money he would need to have a method of progressing without purchasing virtual currency.

Veronica needed more transparency on where the money was going and has confidence that the money if going to make a difference.

Eric required more options to be able to progress in the game rather than just having to part with money, he did not want to feel pressured.


To avoid pay walls for players that don’t want to spend money we added an option to consume advertising as a form of payment (promoting partnering charities). We were considered in making this an option and not mandatory.



To further combat the lack of player engagement we decided to employ Octaysis’ Core Drive 5: Social Influence & Relatedness. It shows that fostering collaborative play within a desired action, where users can help each other out, socialise, and grow together considerably increases player engagement, retention and of course the games viralty.

Social interaction in gaming also plays on the competitive triggers of players. Comparing their abilities and achievements with friends motivates player retention in pursuit of accomplishment.


We used observations from our comparative analysis, personas and design studio to produce ideas of how we might incorporate the social interaction into the gameplay.

Ideas included:

  • Trading currency
  • Leaderboard
  • Updates of friends achievements
  • Creating & supporting environmental causes

This user flow shows trading currency and connecting with friends.


The monetisation and social functions of the game are extremely complex and are systematically woven in the the features and gameplay. They need to be further developed and tested as the rest of the games story and features are developed.


As we moved further into the project I realised that our initial ways of measuring success were too simplistic and didn’t take into account the long term success of the game.

Initially, app downloads and revenue were the two primary metrics we thought were important. However as with freemium games, many players may download it, play it once and never open the app again, not contributing the the revenue or virality of the game at all.

Likewise with the revenue. It should not be as important at the launching of the game and within the first 6 months a year into the games lifecycle. Priority should be placed of acquisition and retention of the game with a big focus on social sharing and the games virality.

Once the game is gathering popularity, the revenue structure of the gameplay can be adjusted for increased commercial benefit.


Throughout the project we constantly relayed our finding to Natalie via email, phone and in scheduled client meetings.

At the completion of the project we presented our project to Natalie. She was very happy with the result and I will continue to help her and the charity with the project into the future.

"I have hired many freelancers for My Green World over the year, and your work was by far the best". - Natalie Kyriacou, My Green World.


We were not able to have regular access with the game’s developers at this stage so our recommendation to Natalie was to not go any further until we could work closely with the developers. We were concerned that if we went too far beyond this stage we would be introducing increased risk and accumulating design debt.

I look forward to continuing this project through to the games re-release and beyond.