What in the Wild Game
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division mission is to enhance, restore and conserve the state’s wildlife resources, natural communities, and ecosystems for the benefit of Michigan’s citizens, visitors, and future generations.

What in the Wild is the flagship project of the MDNR Wildlife Division’s game design program. The goal of the program is to use engaging and innovative outreach tools to connect with new audiences to better serve the diverse needs of Michigan’s citizens. Games provide people with social engagement and a safe space to explore ideas and experiences. This can help remove barriers to greater interest in wildlife and outdoor recreation, as well as active support of wildlife conservation.

What in the Wild complements our K-5 curriculum and supports classroom use, as well as play by families at home. During the various rounds of design and playtesting, it was gratifying to see the curiosity of the players spontaneously develop. They examined each plant and animal in the game and created narratives for how they’d interact. This was especially true during playtesting in classrooms, as even the least-engaged students still studied the cards and talked about them with their classmates. The bold images and bright colors of What in the Wild, partnered with five card games designed to appeal to a wide range of ages and skill sets, helps to create new partners in conservation in the classroom and at home.

Creative Process: The creation of What in the Wild involved many employees (a “Game Biologist,” graphic designers, digital media developers, communications representatives, and more), volunteer playtesters and conservation partners. Several versions of games, different deck designs from plain-text decks to the finished, boxed product, would not have been possible without the help and assistance of a great many people.
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