Our forests are said to be the lungs of the world and they are under threat. Their safety and potential for renewal requires careful management. The Dark Forest Project connects the Amazon Rainforest, Brazil and Sherwood Forest, UK – opening up global debates surrounding forest ecologies through play, a documentary and live events. The game of forest management encourages players to navigate through these two very different iconic forests to find ways to protect and revive them before they reach tipping point, and start to die back.
The development team will use video and mobile, locative, sensor technologies to document the forests. The game combines 3D visualisations of environmental and climate data with filmed footage, captured on location in the forests, to create the game environment. The team will work with top level climate change scientists and technologists to enable this to be achieved sensitively.
A player enters the forest. The trees and landscape change depending on what route they take. As they go south the forest becomes tropical, the light, temperature, noise and air changes. As they go north, the forest becomes more sparse, the trees become older and respond to the seasons. Players can navigate through the virtual forest, discover characters who live and work in the forest, play hidden mini games and manage changes that are controlled by live data feeds from the real forests.
The game can be played both on the web and iPhone. The game connects to a larger cross-platform project, involving a documentary film or series. The project is also supported by a touring exhibition, where visitors engage with a live link between the Brazilian and UK forests and play a live demo of the Dark Forest Game.
The expedition will involve collecting environmental data and filming along the controversial BR163 in the Amazon Rainforest (Brazil) and a journey through the Sherwood Forest region (UK). Sherwood Forest is a region that is attempting to revitalise the remaining iconic oak forest, a dispersed forest home to some of the oldest trees in Europe. The BR163 is perhaps the most controversial road in the world. As a dirt track, it already cuts deep into the Amazon Rainforest. Arguments rage along it, about environmental protection, about sustainable development, about controlling its wild-west gun culture, about what effect paving it would have. The documentary project will take a team of scientists and personalities into the forests, gathering data and engaging with all sides of the argument. It will be a potentially dangerous and revelatory journey. Footage will be captured for both the narrative of the game (characters and mini games) and the documentary project, including interviews with forest managers and people who live and work in the forests.