Developed by BAFTA Award-winning games design studio Somethin' Else in association with Pestival - a cultural organisation dedicated to celebrating pests as caretakers of the planet - the game is launched alongside a season of events at Wellcome Collection exploring the entwined and co-dependent love/hate story between humans and insects.
As a human in 'Who's the Pest?', you must defend your prized cabbages from voracious ants who have placed aphids on the leaves to farm for honeydew. Using, rocks, apples, logs and twigs, you direct the marching ant colony away from your valuable crops and into the waiting jaws of insect predators.
Playing for the ant team, you have only pheromones to guide you. You must make your way to the cabbages and back while avoiding the almighty praying mantis, the snacking huntsman spider, the easily distracted devil's coach horse beetle and the fearsome bombardier beetle - a creature whose violent internal chemistry emits a fatal acid spray.
Starting out with simple puzzles, levels become increasingly challenging as you navigate the terrain first as human, then as ant. Ingenuity is required to solve problems for both sides, and there are hints and tips along the way.
The game also includes fun facts about ants and their enemies throughout, and a 'Who's Eating Who?' guide tells you everything you wanted to know about insects but were afraid to ask by exploring the complex ecological relationships between them, us and the crops we both need to survive.
The game is free to play online and in the Apple App Store (for iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch).
Danny Birchall, website editor at Wellcome Collection, says: "Great gameplay is at the heart of our strategy to engage people with the culture and history of science. We hope that 'Who's the Pest?' will provide hours of puzzling pleasure, and a fresh look at the much-maligned bugs all around us.
"We're especially excited to be working in collaboration with Somethin' Else and Pestival to create a playful experience that lifts rocks to get at the heart of the world that humans and insects share."
Michelle Feuerlicht, digital executive producer at Somethin' Else, adds: "We've been thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate with the Wellcome Collection on this game that mashes up some of our favourite mechanics from tower defence, strategy and puzzle games.
"The brief was really exciting, and we thought it would be a fun challenge to create empathy by flipping the player perspective on each level. The result, 'Who's the Pest?' is (we're pretty sure) the world's first cabbage defence meets eat-'em-up puzzler."
Gameplay and content are based on scientific research into the life and habits of the insect world. Consultants on the game were Dr Paul Eggleton and Dr Erica McAlister of the Natural History Museum. Dr McAlister can also be heard taking listeners on an adventure through the insect world on BBC Radio 4's name-sharing series Who’s the Pest?
Who's the Pest? season at Wellcome Collection
They're with us from the beginning and eat us when we die. Find out more about our special relationship with insects in Wellcome Collection's special season of events.
About Somethin' Else
Somethin’ Else is a unique content design company, creating things millions of people watch, listen to and play with every day. Confident across many platforms, we design and create content for users and audiences, and we build the technology to deliver it.
We do it for brands, broadcasters, publishers and organisations (as clients and as partners) and we do it for ourselves, too. We're concerned with audience and user needs - we develop the right product on the right platforms by seeing things through their eyes.
We have won numerous awards for our work, including wins at the BAFTA Children's Awards, MEGAs, IMGA, Develop Awards and The Drum's DADI Awards, 3 Sony Awards and 4 Radio Production Awards.
Pestival won Conservation Project of the Year in The Observer Ethical Awards 2010. Pestival employs art, entertainment and science to encourage a greater understanding of the natural world. Pestival subverts the idea as insects as pests and instead celebrates them as caretakers of the planet. Pestival playfully says we humans are the pests. Pestival is educational and creates high awareness about conservation in an entertaining environment.
About the Natural History Museum
The Natural History Museum is an award-winning tourist attraction and also a world-leading science research centre. Through its collections and scientific expertise, the Museum works to help understand and maintain the richness and diversity of our planet, with groundbreaking partnerships in more than 70 countries.
About Wellcome Collection
Wellcome Collection is the free visitor destination for the incurably curious. Located at 183 Euston Road, London, Wellcome Collection explores the connections between medicine, life and art in the past, present and future. The building comprises three gallery spaces, a public events programme, the Wellcome Library, a café, a bookshop, conference facilities and a members' club. Wellcome Collection is growing. A £17.5 million development will deliver new galleries and spaces in late summer 2014.
About the Wellcome Trust
Wellcome Collection is part of the Wellcome Trust, a global charitable foundation dedicated to achieving extraordinary improvements in human and animal health. It supports the brightest minds in biomedical research and the medical humanities. The Trust's breadth of support includes public engagement, education and the application of research to improve health. It is independent of both political and commercial interests.