The Arctic Game

    The Challenge

    Design a mobile game that helps document the local Arctic environment by crowdsourcing photos and information, while enhancing intercultural and intergenerational learning in the Inupiaq communities.


    In recent decades, the Arctic region has been experiencing unprecedented ecological and social changes. One of the challenges facing Alaskan Native communities in the Arctic is maintaining and transferring local and indigenous knowledge to younger generations, as young Inupiaq hunters lack opportunities to take part in all seasonal subsistence activities. Thus, activities that strengthen community social networks, allow the sharing of information between generations, and increase understanding of the local environment, are extremely meaningful for cultural preservation, food security, and climate resilience in Arctic communities. 

    Help promote communication between Elders and the youth, as well as encourage young hunters to document their environment in their own local language, through a mobile game!  Allow the integration and comparison of local observations with satellite data to increase our understanding of the Arctic as a system, to create records of climate conditions over time, and to promote adaptation strategies. 

    This challenge addresses the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted by the United Nations General Assembly to engage all countries and all stakeholders in a collaborative partnership.  The SDGs aim to build a better future for all people by achieving sustainable development in three dimensions – economic, social, and environmental – in the spirit of strengthened global solidarity:

    • Goal 11.4:  Strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage.
    • Goal 13.3:  Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation impact reduction and early warning.


    The aim is to develop a game that will motivate young hunters to collect environmental data (e.g. pictures of ice floes) with their mobile phones, classify the data in the Inupiaq language together with their Elders and/or whaling captains, and share their findings with scientists. 

    Design your game to help young hunters make scientifically informed decisions that reduce their vulnerability to environmental hazards.

    In the Arctic, the weather can change within seconds, exposing hunters to potential dangers. Hunters must be able to quickly and correctly recognize and interpret visualizations to avoid distractions from their primary task. Consider incorporating tools and features to aid young hunters better interpret satellite images. 

    Extreme cold weather poses significant challenges to motor skills, limiting finger-based interactions on mobile phones. Therefore, the part of the game which involves “data collection” should be simplified with intuitive and responsive user interfaces, whilst the “social” part of the game, which involves classifying the data with Elders and whaling captains, updating social media status etc., could be more interactive and entertaining.

    As internet connectivity in the Arctic can be unreliable, consider methods to adapt the game to this constraint.  For example, you could allow data collection in the absence of internet connectivity, and subsequent data synchronization when the user is connected to a wireless or mobile network. 

    Possible features to include in your game: 

    • Social media login and status updates
    • Sharing achievements on a leaderboard
    • Friends challenges
    • In-game chatting
    • Enabling GPS location + photo uploads + audio recording
    • View and customize your own map
    • Download observations
    • Scale and zoom with ease
    • Intuitive and user-friendly
    • Data storage (when internet connectivity is unreliable) 
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