Behind-The-Scenes With Jonas
For the latest instalment of our behind-the-scenes series, I caught up with the man in charge of making sure our games remain factual yet fun – the one and only Jonas! Here’s what he had to say about the thrills and challenges of being Runaway’s Researcher:
Take us back to the beginning; how did you get started at Runaway?
I actually applied as a programmer since I studied gaming in my undergrad. It wasn’t until the interview that we realised my more recent experience as a researcher would really come in handy for what the company was trying to achieve.
What goes on in a typical day as a researcher? Can you tell us more about how the butterfly sets are selected?
I work closely with the art and design teams, so it’s really important for me to catch up with them and what they’ve been working on. Sometimes they’ll have the entire set planned out, in which case I go straight to finding all the facts and reference images for them. Other times only one or two butterflies will have been chosen, so it’s up to me to create a shortlist of ten or so butterflies, then narrow them down to the final set. It’s really great working with other teams, as we often want to choose different butterflies depending on whether we’re coming from an art or research perspective, but in the end we always choose a bit of both to create the perfect set.
What’s the most challenging part of your role?
Finding out that many butterflies in the game are really struggling in the wild. For instance, the Mountain Snow Apollo love laying their eggs at a high altitude, but the changing climate is wiping out their eggs and they’re having a really hard time. Even more common species, like Monarchs, are facing challenges. Fortunately there are great ways be involved, from planting caterpillar friendly gardens, to finding your nearest Lepidoptera (butterfly) society. See what you can find out about your favourites from Flutter!
On the flip side, what’s the best thing about your role?
Geeking out about butterflies! Being able to learn about the unique behaviours of all these species, then sharing this knowledge with the players. It’s so awesome imagining people seeing these butterflies for the first time and being blown away that these magnificent creatures exist. I couldn’t ask for a better job!
What do you get up to when you’re not at Runaway HQ?
I spend as much time as I can outdoors, hiking, snorkelling…
The rest of the time I’m working on my masters thesis in science communication, investigating how factual games like Flutter can connect people with nature. It’s really awesome seeing how educational games don’t necessarily have to be dull, and in most cases can be more entertaining due to their connection to conservation and raising awareness about the natural world.
Are there any books or websites you’d recommend to anyone who’s interested in learning more about butterflies?
I use LearnAboutButterflies.com and ButterfliesOfAmerica.com quite a lot in my research. There’s also a beautiful book called Butterflies of the World by H.L. Lewis (ISBN: 0-517-48165-0). It’s full of great butterfly facts, and pages upon pages of gorgeous images!
Thanks Jonas! Is there anything you’d like to say to all the readers out there?
I’d be super keen to hear what conservation groups our fans are interested in, which museums they like to visit, and anything else along those lines. Let us know in the comments.
Oh, and if anyone’s worried about us running out of butterflies in Flutter, don’t panic – there’s roughly 20,000 species to get through. 174,000 if we extend that to moths!