Fun and Games can help save the Earth

A project has been launched to see if “fun and games” can help save the planet Earth. It is to see if games can help increase people’s interest and make people attract concern to environmental issue.

As part of Climate week, the project was at the Science Museum in London, United Kingdom. Consultant Paula Owen hopes that the study made for twelve months will ignite the will of people to change their behavior on how they handle environmental issues and reduce their environmental impacts. Paula Owen said that people in general do not engage with “doom and gloom” type of messages because it makes them feel powerless and eventually tries to ignore the message instead.

Doctor Owen explains that “gamification” is a simple idea. “It is the idea of using the concepts and mechanics of games but in a non-gaming environment. That environment could be a variety of settings, like in a health situation, such as the initiatives to encourage running through leaderboards and setting up competitions among friends. Basically, my idea is to take the concepts of gamification and use them in the environmental sector to try and promote greater pro-environment behavior.”

Doctor Owen told BBC News that the study’s target audience is especially those people who had not engaged with environmental matters in the past since it had “all been a bit guilt-filled and full of “doom and gloom”.”It is the idea of bringing in fun and games into a serious topic in order to try and enhance engagement.” But she also added that this project also goes beyond “gamification’s” theory of using games in a situation where it is not usually welcomed, for example: the office. “The other aspect I am looking at is actually using games but with an environmental twist.”

Wednesday evening, March 6, 2013, at the project launch at the Science Museum, the people were invited to join various games which include games named as “Play Your Eco-Cards Right” to “Eco-Snakes and Ladders.” “We are testing these ideas to see if it enhances environmental education in terms of recalling information and encourages people to change their behavior,” Doctor Owen explained.

Doctor Owen also plans to work with researchers from many universities which include Manchester. This is to gather important and relevant data to assess the success of the alternative strategy to help make individuals engage with environmental issues. “One of the things we want to look at is how ‘sticky’ this sort of interaction is in terms of educating people. If they are willing, we will contact people who have taken part in these games a few months later to see how much they have remembered,” Owen stated.

This project is also supported by the London Sustainable Development Commission (LSDC), which also has made Doctor Owen as one of its “London Leaders” for her work researching the links between games and raising environmental awareness. LSDC’s Ed Gillespie said the idea was a novel way to address serious issues. “Play is, has and always will be part of human nature,” says Gillespie.

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