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May 30th
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An Endangered Adventure

blog isopodNew educational iPad game features endangered Santa Cruz species

Curious gamers of all ages can learn about some of Santa Cruz’s endangered critters in a new, educational iPad game titled “Isopod: The Roly Poly Science Game.”

Mike Parisi, the owner of Xylem and Pholem LLC, recently released the Isopod iPad app, which synthesizes arcade-quality gameplay and the scientific encyclopedia. His intention, he tells GT, is to inspire in the game’s users a fascination with insects and their relationship to a variety of life science subjects. Designed for gamers and learners ages "10 through 110," Isopod explores 24 scientific topics with a deep focus on the world of entomology and insects.  

Among the species featured in the game’s first level (the Santa Cruz level) are the Ohlone Tiger Beetle and Smith's Blue Butterfly.

Although Parisi designed the game to be fun, he adds that Isopod is not the easiest of games. Isopod's educational strength resides in its knack for taking the player in one layer at a time—primarily focusing on fun, but then expanding out into continuously deeper units of study. “Putting in the effort to gain knowledge makes the experience all that more meaningful,” says Parisi.      

The game contains many levels, all of which illuminate important aspects of the natural world and the issue it faces. Included topics range from endangered species, and how ecosystems are thrown out of whack when elements gets pulled out of the mix; invasive species, and the financial and health difficulties they cause; and beneficial insects, and how they help preserve quality of life. Isopod also carries the theme of how insects are important to medicine and can be used as a potential solution for world hunger issues. One of Parisi’s favorite levels, from a visual perspective, is intently focused on bioluminescence. (“If you dig arthropods and have not witnessed the amazing glowing Motyxia Sequoiae in all its 100-legged beauty, you really haven't seen anything yet,” he enthuses.)

At its heart, Parisi believes the game demonstrates how everything in life is connected, and how biodiversity is a simple measure of ecosystem health.

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