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“Jack’s Journey Into Conservation”

I have always enjoyed games that enable you to explore a vast open world. This started with Minecraft at a young age, but developed as I discovered other games that let you not only find another world but hints of the people who lived there.

What started as a love of landscape evolved, with the help of the games I played, to be inquisitiveness about the people who inhabited these spaces. More specifically, I was intrigued to discover everything I could about the people who were now long gone from these worlds - whether from corporate mismanagement as with Portal or a deadly infection as in the The Last of Us.

Then I found Firewatch. It was the perfect game for me. Not only a beautiful landscape to lose myself in, but all manner of evidence of the people who used to work in the fire lookout towers.

My journey continues, and I still have a passion for both people and places. This has led me to study Public Health at University Massachusetts. I've also now completed S-130, S-190, L-180, I-100, IS-700 Wild Land Fire Fighting courses with the National Fire Academy.
 

Outcome
Study Public Health at University Massachusetts and a plan to work in conservation.


This outcome arises from the following 5 milestones over the span of 10 years, from 9 - 19 years-old:

DetailsPathway Details

Name: Jack Kelley
Stage of Life: 9 - 19 years-old
Genres: Action, Adventure, Creative, Fighting, Narrative, Open World, Platform, Puzzle, Shooting, Simulation and Stealth
Platforms: PC and PlayStation 4
 

 

The Call Of Uninhabited Spaces

Age: 9-years-old / 01/01/2012 / 10 years ago

Play Styles: Child and Parent Play Together (Cooperative Play) and Child Plays Independently (Independent Play)

Platform: PC

I played Minecraft from a young age, which isn't unusual I know. But for me the game was life changing. The sense of exploration and the boundless nature of the world. The ability to travel without limits. And of course being able to do this with other people.

I was fascinated by the absent history of the Minecraft worlds. Even as a child I wanted to know who had lived here before I arrived. Who made the now-ruined buildings and sailed the now-sunken ships?

This was my first steps not only exploring a virtual world but imagining the lives that may have lived there. I remember making up my own little stories about being an explorer pushing further and further into the wilderness.

Jack discovered feelings of intrigue and passion for the huge landscapes he encountered.

Activities: Jack found that the following related activities worked alongside playing Minecraft:


Gravity Falls
FILMS AND SERIES

Jack connected with the series with its exploration of their place in the town. It also offered a web of mysteries that were slowly uncovered.
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Jack was inspired to venture deep into Minecraft worlds by the KilloCrazyMan project who spend over 1000 hours walking as far as he could in the world to culminate in an emotional arrival at the edge of the map.
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Discovering Stories Of People Past

Age: 11-years-old / 01/01/2014 / 8 years ago

Platform: PC

Having played a range of different games, it wasn't until playing Portal and Portal 2 that I discovered how an environment could tell a story with more than just broken buildings.

The experience redefined what a game could be for me from the depth of its environmental storytelling. The world of these test chambers, in which you played, was as fascinating as the logic bending puzzles.

I played over and over, exploring every corner to find every last scrap of information. I had to discover all I could about the history of aperture science. Who they were, who had worked there and what had gone so wrong?

Jack gained an understanding of how narrative and place work together to tell the history of people and times gone by.

Activities: Jack found that the following related activities worked alongside playing Portal:


Dr Who
FILMS AND SERIES

Jack connected the the idea of infinite space of the Tardis and the travelling through space of Dr Who.
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Jack read the Portal Wiki endlessly. In particular the idea of the Test Shaft 9 location had a whole community hunting down narrative scraps to uncover the history of the game's backstory.
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Traversing Lonely Places

Age: 12-years-old / 01/02/2015 / 7 years ago

Play Styles: Child and Parent Play Together (Cooperative Play)

Platform: PlayStation 4

I had wanted to play The Last of Us for a long time, although it was a bit old for me. I was immediately fascinated, both from an interest for post apocalyptic setting and the narrative reputation. I remember it taking quite some time for me to play it and cope with the controls.

What struck me was the emptiness of the environment. Between the shooting and the infected, this was a deeply lonely world to journey through. The endless empty ocean with ships now beached along the shore. The roads now blocked with unmoving cars. The cafes and shops no longer serving any purpose.

Like with Portal, I was driven to keep playing by the need to find out what had gone wrong. The remnants of society intrigued me. Not only the now-purposeless infrastructure but the way humanity had tried to find a treatment for the outbreak that unfortunately collapsed under the weight of need.

The game was cemented in my memory when I went revisited it with my twin sister. It was fascinating to watch how she played it (so differently) and a chance to reflect more deeply on the world and the story.

Jack found his personal story impacted by playing The Last of Us, which led to him exploring and drawing his hometown (and how it would look in an apocalyptic world).

Activities: Jack found that the following related activities worked alongside playing The Last Of Us:

Jack was inspired to consider how his home town would fare, and spent time drawing how that might look.

Experiencing Looking Out For People

Age: 13-years-old / 01/02/2016 / 6 years ago

Platform: PlayStation 4

Firewatch is pivotal not only to my video game playing, but my journey into Public Health. It came into my life at a perfect time, picking up threads of a world to explore and an engaging story to discover. The soundtrack by Chris Remo still takes me back to the first time I played it and the sense of wonder and narrative innocence.

What clicked for me was the simple experience of walking through the Shoshone Forest. I had enjoyed the worlds game had created before, but this was the first time I had really had paid attention to that kind of landscape. I was hooked, not only to the game, but to the idea of the remote lookout towers you visit and the people that worked there.

The idea that someone might decide to take a job that takes them deep into the wilderness for weeks on end seemed otherworldly. Knowing that this is exactly what the people who manned these towers in the real world did made me desperate to know more.

It led me to take on an epic project of visiting as many of these fire look outs as I could. The fascination wasn't just about the towers, but the stories of the people who had worked those places.

Jack developed skills in the jobs required to be a fire lookout. He also developed skills in locating and photographing the towers as part of his tower visit project.
Jack planned, organised and executed a series of visits to the towers near him, with the help of his parents.

Activities: Jack found that the following related activities worked alongside playing Firewatch:

Jack joined the Forest Fire Lookout Association which was the start of his adventure of visiting so many of these.
More information
In this interview Jack talks about how the game Firewatch, created by Campo Santo, inspired Jack to explore the vast history of real life look out towers, and to prepare himself to enter into a career of conservation.
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Jack created a photography project to take photos of each of the tower trips.
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The Importance Of People

Age: 19-years-old / 01/02/2022 / 10 months ago

Platform: PlayStation 4

What drew me in to play Horizon Forbidden West was again the people who came before me in the world. This was accentuated here where the character Aloy is embedded in both the story and the unfolding events of the environment.

The big thing that hooked me was the call to preserve the biosphere to prevent humanity's extinction. This took the emotions I had in Firewatch and set them in a huge world. Along with this scale it was the level of interaction you can have with the environment.

Unlike the first game, this experience wasn't one about loneliness. In fact the game takes you to places where you need to work with other people to save the world.

Now I was studying conservation at university, it was moving to encounter the different tribes and indigenous people. It was a broken world where the people increasingly mattered. In fact, rather than destroying the planet, they are clearly saving the world from destruction.

Threading through this are (often buried or hidden) moments from the past before the world was reborn. This plays well with the experience in the presence where you are encounter hundreds of people who have survived.

Jack was moved by finding traces of the old society buried deep in Horizon Forbidden West, alongside the second chance communities. The old and failed living on alongside the new and the hopeful.

Activities: Jack found that the following related activities worked alongside playing Horizon Forbidden West:

Jack was inspired to write fiction on the theme of how memory would be preserved in the face of a catastrophic event.

Pathway Outcome

The culmination of the milestones in the pathway lead to Jack study Public Health at University Massachusetts and a plan to work in conservation. We have described it as a linear journey, but of course, there is always a fair amount of back and forth between the games they played.

Along with the main outcome Jack also changed in the following ways:

  • Behaviour: Jack planned, organised and executed a series of visits to the towers near him, with the help of his parents.
  • Disposition: Jack was moved by finding traces of the old society buried deep in Horizon Forbidden West, alongside the second chance communities. The old and failed living on alongside the new and the hopeful.
  • Disposition: Jack discovered feelings of intrigue and passion for the huge landscapes he encountered.
  • Experience: Jack found his personal story impacted by playing The Last of Us, which led to him exploring and drawing his hometown (and how it would look in an apocalyptic world).
  • Knowledge: Jack gained an understanding of how narrative and place work together to tell the history of people and times gone by.
  • Skill: Jack developed skills in the jobs required to be a fire lookout. He also developed skills in locating and photographing the towers as part of his tower visit project.

We focus on how games contribute to this outcome, but also include related activities that play a part of this journey:

Taming Gaming Book Written by parents for parents, the database complements the in-depth discussion about video game addiction, violence, spending and online safety in the Taming Gaming book. We are an editorially independent, free resource without adverts that is supported by partnerships.

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