It's designed to educate, inspire, and bring about change through an adventurous medium, and is the creation of British Columbia-based Eco Game Solutions, Inc.
Michael Epp, the company's president, and Brad Chretien, digital marketing overseer, are Hightail Whale's co-creators.
ART IMITATES (ANTI-CAPTIVITY) LIFE
The original game concept was sparked when Michael and Brad discovered a shared passion for helping orcas and marine mammals, then realized the potential of combining their talents for a greater good.
They started the process in the fall of 2014 by doing extensive research on orcas and the negative effects of captivity.
Brad says, "Once Michael and I began our research, it was insane how many facts we found on the negative effects of captivity."
He adds, "It really doesn't take long before you realize these mammals are about as close to being tortured as it gets. Right from the very beginning it's wrong, and a very disrespectful thing to even capture these majestic creatures, let alone hold them in captivity."
With the idea and research in place, the next step involved finding a game developer. That's when Brad contacted an acquaintance whose family owned the development company Navigator Multimedia.
"Sharing our ideas with them, they seemed to grasp our vision right away, and Michael and I knew we had found the right people to help create our app," he says.
Over the course of the next six months, Hightail Whale was born.
MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Michael says the game is offered for free with in-app purchasing options, but it's not about profit, as some skeptics might assume.
"We donate 10 percent of all profits to the Whale Dolphin Conservation Society. We hope this number turns out to be significant so they can continue to expand their good works," he says.
Brad also notes that he and Michael have so far invested about $50,000 to produce the app.
"With 30 percent going to Apple, and 10 percent going to Whale Dolphin Conservation, our shared 60 percent will be paying back the initial investment, as well as continued game updates and improvements," he says.
Michael emphasizes that Eco Game Solutions is committed to the conservation of whales and ending captivity, while the game itself is "more a labor of love, borne out of a passion to see change, than a money-making venture."
One challenge faced in developing the game was in how to present real issues in an entertaining format, that people could easily understand and learn from.
"We tried hard to be accurate for the experts, but also to ensure the game is fun and educational for users of all ages," Michael says.
A few game highlights include:
- Educational facts on captivity
- 10 whale facts to scroll through before a new game begins
- Whales having to avoid obstacles - harpoons, nets, ships, oil barrels and toxic waste barrels
- Shrimp packs available for purchase, which allows for longer game play