Kew Gardens has joined the increasing number of organisations realising that social networking, and in particular Twitter, is an excellent way of increasing awareness of themselves and their products. However, unlike many organisations Kew Garden’s approach is a little more entertaining – a virtual botanical growing game – Tweet and Grow.
Tweet and Grow was launched on the 25th May and is available to anyone who wants to register. You have your own growing zone with four initial plants for you to tend. You can provide them with sun, water, nutrients, heat and a special plant boost if you choose to play the game via Twitter. However, what was less clear is that you only have 25 tend actions a day which you can get through very quickly and you need to distribute them evenly or your plants will die.
With each of the plants (Black Bamboo, Houseleek, Tilt-headed Aloe and Flaming Sword Bromeliad) you are provided with information about where the plants grow in the wild and what conditions they like. This is an excellent way of explaining different habitats to children and I think that Kew has missed a trick by not making the rewards you can earn at each level more child focussed.
There are four further plants which you can unlock in various ways. Through finding a code on Kew’s twitter feed, through tending the other plants, through finding a clue on Kew’s website and through visiting the garden. My one real complaint is that this game is too focussed on people being able to visit Kew Gardens. The rewards are excellent if you can visit the garden – two for one entry, free coffee in the shop, discount on gifts from the shop. If the purpose of the game is to get people to visit the garden then I can see the logic in this but it is very limited to people who can get to the gardens. For someone like me who lives in the West Midlands a visit to Kew is not that likely. However, if the purpose is to raise awareness of what work Kew do and to educate people about different habitats then the rewards and clues need to be more online focussed. It would be possible to provide an opportunity to buy discounted goods online from Kew’s shop or to build up vouchers to use from another online source. I feel it is a pity as I believe many people will lose interest when they realise they need to actually visit a garden which is a long way from them.
The game does make you think about what plants actually need to grow so my black bamboo needs more water than my Houseleek and so on and as I have said I think there is huge potential to develop this game to education younger people about different habitats in the meantime I will go back to looking after my Tilt-head Aloe to see what other rewards are hidden away.