EarthGames would like to build a video game for mobile phones and tablets that educates students about sustainability actions they can take on campus and promotes sustainability RSOs that they can participate in.
Earlier this month at the Sustainability Game Jam (sponsored by CSF), a team led by EarthGames lead designer Samuel Dassler built a game prototype called "60 Second Sustainability." The game is made up of many "microgames," which is a style popularized in games like the WarioWare series. A round of microgames is frantic: you play approximately 10 of these mini-games within a single minute of play time. The frenetic nature of a microgame-based app means that it can be used to communicate a large number of sustainability concepts in a short amount of time.
The prototype currently includes actions such as putting your reusable bottle under the water tap to fill it up, raising a solar panel, bringing your own bag to the farmer's market, screwing in a more efficient light bulb, turning out the lights, and sorting waste into compost, recycling and garbage.
The game was quite popular at the showcase after the jam, and won the Audience Choice Award for best game. We are proposing to expand the game by making the actions more specific to UW, and co-designing microgames with various sustainability organizations on campus. For instance, to support the SEED effort to encourage students to wash clothes in cold water using fragrance free powdered detergents, we could design a microgame in which the player changes a washing machine temperature setting to cold, and selects the right detergent within 4 seconds. To help encourage proper waste disposal, we would depict the correct placement of items that when incorrectly sorted cause the most damage at UW, such as e-waste and liquid into paper recycling bins.
Microgames often have an air of silliness to them, and it is important to us that any representation of an RSO is positive to a wide range of players. In order to accomplish this, we would work closely with representatives from each RSO included in both preproduction and testing phases. Initial responses from members of sustainability RSOs have been enthusiastic.
A key component of this project is using existing, student-run sustainability initiatives to inspire the microgames and build awareness of the extensive work that student groups are already doing. Social science research shows that peer modeling is one of the most effective forms of behavior change. By showcasing the work of student groups in these games, we will be drawing on the power of peer modeling to encourage other students to think and act sustainably.
We hope that the game would be frequently utilized in tabling events by EarthGames and also participating RSOs, in addition to downloads we will receive on the iOS and Google Play app stores, where the game will be posted for free. In order to make the game appealing in a tabling context, we recognize that the look of the game must be particularly striking. Microgame-based apps should work well in a group setting, with fast-moving content, simple rules, and difficult gameplay inspiring "just one more try" reactions from a crowd. We think that a sustainability video game will encourage a whole new type of student to engage with sustainability activities.
EarthGames is up to the task of developing a high-quality, visually appealing, and fun game in a short time and on a limited budget. Our team includes undergraduate student artists and content creators, a professional game developer with significant experience working with student teams, a graduate student with extensive work in campus organizing, and a faculty liaison with a strong track record of supporting student outreach and engagement. EarthGames has released 5 apps to the iOS and Google Play app stores, and shares game announcements and updates with a quarterly newsletter that is read by over 500 readers both on and off campus.
We would complete the first version of the game by the end of spring quarter, and finalize art during the summer. We would organize a rollout event corresponding with Dawg Daze at the beginning of next year, to encourage new enrollment in the RSO and inform new students of sustainability actions they can take on campus.
We are requesting funds to support:
Undergraduate student artist Rivkah Parent: 200 hours @ $20/hour *1.207 (benefit rate) = $4828
EarthGames lead designer Samuel Dassler: 11 weeks @ $1000/week *1.325 (benefit rate) = $14575
Graduate student community manager Judy Twedt: 150 hours @ $25/hour*1.207 (benefit rate) = $4526
Undergraduate student programmer: 100 hours @ $15/hour = $1810
Prof. Dargan Frierson: unfunded project manager