Media contact:
Renee LeGendre
Director of Communications
Columbus College of Art & Design
[email protected]  


COLUMBUS, Ohio—Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) has launched Smokey’s Scouts, a forest-friendly mobile matching game for kids, teens, and adults, in an effort to increase fire safety awareness and wildfire prevention nationwide. Developed in partnership with the Mid-Atlantic Interstate Forest Fire Protection Compact (MAIFFPC) and USDA Forest Service, Smokey’s Scouts spotlights the beloved and historic wildfire prevention symbol, Smokey Bear, in his first-ever mobile game. 

Smokey Bear-inspired mobile game

Smokey’s Scouts was created through CCAD’s collaborative learning partnership efforts, which connect students with forward-thinking organizations to solve real-world challenges of today and tomorrow while gaining professional experience before they leave the classroom. Eighteen students from CCAD’s Illustration, Animation, Game Art & Design, and Comics & Narrative Practice programs collaborated to conceptualize, design, and launch the game.

“Our students really embraced the unique design challenge of creating a new cast of characters alongside an icon like Smokey Bear, all while effectively educating players on wildfire prevention in a dynamic environment,” said Elizabeth Keegan, chair of Game Art & Design, CCAD. “Creative collaboration with organizations such as MAIFFPC allows us to send graduates into the world with proven potential and professional experience developing and publishing applications addressing real-world challenges.”

Smokey’s Scouts is launching at a moment when wildfire prevention education is timely and urgent; the American West is burning more quickly than it has in a decade, and about 3 million acres of U.S. land have already burned this year. Humans were the cause of 89% of wildfires in 2021 according to the National Interagency Fire Center, making increased public awareness of wildfire prevention a critical component to taming a dangerous rise in frequent and intense fires.

“Most wildfires in the U.S. that threaten homes and lives are ignited by humans; it’s a problem we can prevent, yet the risks are mounting as we see record-breaking fire seasons year after year,” said Aaron Kloss, Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Forestry and MAIFFPC Ohio representative. “We need to bring new energy and creativity to wildfire prevention, and the students at CCAD really delivered through Smokey’s Scouts.”

Smokey’s Scouts fosters crucial wildfire awareness in a fun, engaging match 3 game design where players take on the role of aspiring scouts. Players must aid Smokey Bear and his group of helpful animal scouts in preventing wildfires by removing fire hazards along their hike. During gameplay, players learn Smokey Bear history along with how to prevent unwanted wildfires, collecting badges and bear tokens (game currency) along the way to better assist scouts in their training. Nature lovers will recognize many famous backdrops in the game; campsite environments and biomes sprinkled throughout the game were inspired by national forests and parks across the country.

“Smokey Bear is a cultural icon. It was a surreal experience to bring such a beloved character to life in a mobile game,” said Jessica Jarvis, CCAD alum (Illustration, 2022). “Working hand-in-hand with MAIFFPC and the Forest Service was an invaluable experience. We hope Smokey’s Scouts will teach a new, digital-savvy generation about the importance of wildfire prevention.”

Smokey’s Scouts is available for free download via Apple App Store and Google Play. For more information on CCAD’s Game Art & Design Program, visit our website. To learn more about CCAD’s real-world collaborations with corporate and community organizations or how to become a partner, visit our Corporate & Community Partnerships