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VIRTUAL REEF DIVER QUT (Centre for Data Science) 

Designed by Jack Ford Morgan (Half-Monster Games) Virtual Reef Diver is less of a game and more of an ecological look at the amazing Great Barrier Reef of Australia through a beautiful selection of colour photographs.

The game, such that it is, can only be played once or twice by the same people (solo or team) as it requires players to 'guess' certain things about each card, most of which are close to obvious (not all) and one part that even after several plays most people will not have a chance of remembering.

12 Cards are placed in a 3x4 grid face up. In turn players pick a card and relate what organism 'Type' is shown in the picture - Hard Coral, Soft Coral (oops I almost got into singing this in the style of Soft Kitty from The Big Bang Theory), Invertibrates, Algae, Marine Mammals, Fish or Technologies. Technologies are obvious so they don't score any points but they do gain you an Action card. The hardest of the Types to guess, first time around, are the Corals - is it a Hard or a Soft Coral?

In the 'Advanced' game mode you also have to identify the Type, Habitat and Taxonomic Family name - yeah, I didn't know what 'taxonomic' meant either - so see below

Taxonomic: adjective.  BIOLOGY concerned with the classification of things, especially organisms. "the taxonomic diversity of bees"

Taxonomic: noun. 
1: the study of the general principles of scientific classification : SYSTEMATICS  
2: CLASSIFICATION especially : orderly classification of plants and animals according to their presumed natural relationships

On the face of the cards is an Australian Government photograph. On the flip side you find the Type, Common Name, Taxonomic Family, Habitat and Fun Facts.

Each part you identify correctly score you points. If, for example, I identify the Brown Algae as 'Algae' I score 2 points, another 2 points for saying it is Brown Algae and 1 point for saying either/both Coral Reef and Sand. The amusing thing to myself (I have very miniscule knowledge of the Great Barrier Reef) is that if I also identify the Taxonomic Family (I really cannot get enough of typing 'Taxonomic') which in this case is Dictyotaceae, I also score just ONE point. No way will I ever remember that/

As I said, there isn't much of a game here, so I can only hope that some of the proceeds from this £11.00 'game' are used to help with the Reef Research.

Virtual Reef Diver Project Overview:

The Virtual Reef Diver is a cloud-based, citizen-science platform designed to combine data from different sources and provide up-to-date information on the health status of the Great Barrier Reef. Citizens contribute to Virtual Reef Diver in two ways:

Image-based data from citizen-science groups, reef operators, traditional owners, researchers, and professional monitoring programs are then combined within the platform and used to automatically generate predictive maps of coral cover (reef-health indicator) across the whole-of-the GBR, as new up-to-date data becomes available.


The Virtual Reef Diver platform is fully operational and results-to-date show that integrating image-based data from multiple organisations significantly increases the accuracy of reef health predictions.

The project led to positive community participation and attract national and international engagement. The Virtual Reef Diver was promoted by ABC during the Australian’s Science Week in 2018 and was finalist for the Eureka Awards in 2019.

The Virtual Reef Diver is also an educational board card game that teaches about the dangers that the Great Barrier Reef currently faces, and the solutions data scientists are providing for its defence while having fun.

Research publication:

Project team

Most definitely an education for all ages. Can be played by any number of players, within reason, but 2-8 is the suggested range. Made me wish I was fit enough to scuba dive so I could explore the Great Barrier Reef; also made me wish I could revisit Australia. 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2021