Stay Grounded With Science
Grounded seems to be taking the world by storm. Every man and his dog is jumping into this charming survival title from Obsidian, well every man except me. Life has so far not allowed me to sample what is apparently one hell of an experience and (according to my 13-year-old) a game that must be played. The game has come a long way from its initial early access release and now that it has reached version 1.0 the team at Xbox Australia has cooked up something special to celebrate.
They managed to track down Dr Bryan Lessard, aka Bry the Fly Guy to put together a handy survival guide for anyone that may perhaps find themselves shrunk and lost in their own backyard. Dr Byran has one hell of a resume, including the discovery of over 150 new species of insects, 50 of which are from Aus and NZ. So you can see that if you need an inside hint on how to survive in an insect-filled world, he is the man to listen to.
As you can see Bry the Fly Guy, has put together five steps to make it through the backyard unscathed. Of course, the disclaimer is that well… it is very unlikely to happen, but hey if it does, well you will be prepared. Make sure you read the full guide below and check out Grounded on Gamepass for both Xbox and PC right now. I feel like I need to rectify my lack of playtime immediately that is for sure.
How to survive being shrunk in the backyard, according to raw science
Dr Bryan Lessard aka Bry the Fly Guy
Imagine waking up in the backyard to find you’ve been shrunk to the size of an ant, like in the new survival game Grounded. Could you survive the farthest reaches of this exciting mini world? Are the giant insects surrounding you friend or foe? What would you eat to fight off hunger!? It’s time to embrace your inner warrior and survive and thrive in the backyard!
1. Raise the roof
Unknown dangers will surround you. Construct a shelter early to avoid deadly predators, safely store your belongings and get a good night’s sleep. The United Nations recommends making your home safe, resilient and sustainable. Build the house of your dreams and reduce your carbon footprint by using locally sourced, renewable construction materials like grass planks, vine ropes and tree sap. Keep the lights on by installing energy-efficient bioluminescent glow worm chandeliers – they’ll even eat any unwanted moth guests! Looking for something more long term and durable? Termite mounds have concrete-hard walls and can last up to 4,000 years!
Feeling like an introvert? Get your snail on and make a portable house for one. Craft a shell out of rocks and clay that you can take with you! Feeling lazy? Take a page out of the hermit crab playbook and find a discarded shell that you can move straight into.
If you’re a social butterfly, move into an established hive with roommates who might even help you live your best life for longer. Research has found that social insects like bees, ants and termites live longer than solo-living insects. That might be because social insects benefit by sharing shelter and food and work together to defend against intruders. Build a bare-necessity base camp or a full-blown mini mansion with friends, the choice is yours!
2. Hunger games
On top of aggressive creatures, you’ll also have to fight off hunger. Unless a messy friend dropped cake at your last barbeque, you will need to be braver in your food choices. Luckily there’s plenty of bugs to eat. Seriously. Edible insects are high in protein, vitamins and other nutrients.
Try a roasted Witjuty grub (Endoxyla leucomochla) that tastes like scrambled eggs. Wash it down with a gin ant tonic infused with zesty lime green tree ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) that are high in vitamin C.
With two million people from 130 countries already eating edible insects – what are you waiting for! Just make sure you cook them first.
If you’re vegetarian, stick to high protein pollen and sugary nectar from flowers that are a hit with pollinating flies, wasps and bees. Need something stronger? Why not raid a beehive for super energy-rich honey! But bee-ware of their deadly stingers that are the size of swords!
Water will be essential for your survival. A human can last between 3 to 18 days without water, but a shrunken you might only last a few hours! That’s because the smaller you are, the more prone you’ll be to desiccation – drying out and dying! Thanks to condensation, pure water droplets form overnight on leaves that are free of bacteria like E. coli that might make yourself poop to death. Craft water vessels out of plants to hold water for longer journeys. Doctors recommend to keep hydrated, eat a balanced diet and STAY ALIVE!
3. Suit up!
Craft armour to protect yourself against the deadly claws, stingers and fangs that you’ll face on an hourly basis! Although the majority of the world’s 10 million insect species are harmless to a full-sized human, being shrunk is a completely different story. While it usually takes nearly a million mosquito bites to drain all the blood from a full-sized human, it would only take a few mozzie bites to kill a tiny you!
Hardened beetle wing elytra can withstand 39,000 times their weight and make excellent shields and body armour to survive melee attacks. Ant skulls are battle-ready helmets and have pheromones that will mask your scent while you storm a soldier ant colony, since ants identify each other using smell. You’ll also need weapons to fight off more aggressive foes like spiders, scorpions or assassin bugs. Turn bee stingers, spider fangs and antlion pincers into effective clubs, spears and swords to defend against the next creature attack. Don’t bug out, the easiest way to level up is to learn more about the resourceful insects and plants nature has to offer!
4. Get a pet
Fending for yourself in the backyard will be one of the scariest and isolating times of your life. Companionship is the best cure for loneliness, so be sure to bond with a pet insect. Research has shown that owning a pet can reduce loneliness and improve mental health. Insects are the perfect six-legged friends because they live off minimal water and food. Another bonus: most of them won’t harm us because they are too busy pollinating flowers, or turning leaf litter and poop into compost.
Turns out the global insect pet market is buzzing – you can already buy these insect breeds from your local pet shop.
Leaf insects (Walaphyllium monteithi) have a peaceful temperament and mimic a leaf blowing in the wind. They are great for helping you get zen the next time you practise yoga.
If you’re looking for something a little smaller and less work, consider a chihuahua-size aphid – they will reward you by excreting delicious honeydew. These insect pets will be loyal for their life, oh and they’re vegetarian so they won’t eat you!
5. Give in to wanderlust
With food rations and armour in check, there’s only one thing left to do – go travelling! Explore the backyard’s unique biomes with endemic species and resources that you’ll need to survive your next micro adventure. Learn the lay of the land by wandering the lush forests of the Grasslands. Say hello to friendly gnats, scarabs and weevils while you collect grass planks for your next building project. If you’re feeling more adventurous, cross the dry deserts of the Sandpit to discover weapon treasures in the form of pincers and fangs. These will come in handy while you defend against territorial antlions and wolf spiders! Cool off and relax on the shady banks of the pond while you enjoy a delicious tadpole and water flea lunch. But watch out for the deadliest creature of them all – the mega-koi fish – one gulp and you’re a goner!
Just like the backyard, there are 36 biodiversity hotspots across the world that are home to most species on the planet, even though they take up only 2.3% of the Earth’s surface. Living in a biodiverse region will increase your chance of survival. That’s because biodiversity provides essential food, clean water, construction materials and 80% of all the medicines ever discovered!
Luckily, Australia is one of the safest places to be shrunk down in the backyard. That’s because it has two global biodiversity hotspots that are full of biological tools and treasures. Sydney and Brisbane are both part of the Forests of East Australia hotpot that stretches along the Great Dividing Range. Catch a ride on our endangered friend the Sydney Hawk dragonfly (Austrocordulia leonardi). Or venture into the ancient eucalypt forests of Lamington National Park to get some fashion advice from fabulous, endangered soldier flies (Opaluma opulens and Antissella puprasina).
If you live in Perth, head to the Southwest Australia hotspot and enjoy the treasures of the forests, woodlands and scrublands. Share a meal with the wingless stilt flies (Badisis ambulans) that eat the clumsy insects that fall into the acidic juices of the endangered Albany pitcher plant.
Scientists have identified only a quarter of all species on Earth, so you might even discover a new species in your own backyard! What are you waiting for, get out there and start exploring!
Put your new skills to work in the cooperative survival game Grounded developed by Obsidian Entertainment, a studio under Xbox Game Studios. Choose your favourite shrunk player (Max, Willow, Pete, or Hoops) and explore the farthest reaches of the uncharted backyard. Will you survive the dangerous landscapes, unexplored biomes and deadliest creatures?! You might be tiny, but your adventures will be huge!
Dr Bryan Lessard aka Bry the Fly Guy is an award-winning entomologist and author of the book Eyes on Flies. This work was specifically designed for the Ogilvy PR campaign for the Xbox and PC game Grounded. While the shrinking talents of comic book heroes are currently unknown to science, biotechnology and atomic physics is rapidly advancing. But until scientists invent a shrink-ray, the tips provided in this work are completely fictional – at least for now!