60 Second Sustainability: A Video Game for Sustainability at UW

Executive Summary:

EarthGames (www.earthgames.org) plans to build a video game called 60 Second Sustainability (60SS) for mobile phones and tablets that educates students about many sustainability actions they can take on campus, while promoting and building bridges among RSOs.  We seek to educate a new audience of students about sustainability actions they can take, and spread the word about campus organizations.  The cost is $26,043, which will go to student managers and a professional game developer on staff with EarthGames.  The game will be made available for free to download for mobile devices, and shown in a variety of tabling settings and events across campus.  The game, which recently won the Audience Choice Award at the UW Sustainability Game Jam, will consist of many 5-10 second "microgames" played in quick succession, which allows us to introduce many sustainability concepts in a short period of time.  

Student Involvement:

The project will involve many students across campus at various levels of commitment, ranging from building the app, to co-designing and testing microgames, to distributing the app.  Three student managers will be paid for their involvement.  Judy Twedt, a graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Individualized Ph.D. program is managing the project.  She is a Husky Green Award winner, College of the Environment Outreach award winner, and is experienced with making connections among groups at UW and in the broader community as evidenced by her leadership of  the UAW Climate Caucus Speaker's Bureau, and service with the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy.  Rikki Parent will serve as lead artist for the project.  Rikki is majoring in atmospheric sciences and has contributed much of the art for previous EarthGames releases including A Caribou's Tale, Erode Runner, Soot Out at the 0o C Corral, and EcoTrivia: Save the Animals.  An undergraduate programmer, potentially Alexey Beall, the creator and sole programmer of Dark Side of the Earth, will contribute to programming the game within the Unity game engine.  

We will also involve the ATM S 495: EarthGames Studio class with co-design of the games.  This largely independent study class averages around 10-15 students each quarter, and current and previous students have expressed great enthusiasm about participating in development and testing of 60SS.  The class frequently tests, critiques, and tunes prototype games in the weekly classroom meeting.  

Finally, we plan to engage a large number of sustainability RSOs in co-designing the game.  We have had preliminary conversations with groups including WashPIRG, SEED, SAGE, Green Husky Coalition, the UW Sustainability Action Network, Global Sustainability Initiative, and UW Solar about contributing their own theme, task, or action item into the micro-games. Student groups have expressed a keen interest and excitement in contributing to the microgames. This opportunity to co-design the microgames offers student RSO’s several benefits: (1) the creation of a tool to engage new audiences or members, (2) promotion of their chosen sustainability goals and values, (3) design and teamwork skill-building through the co-development process, (4) connecting with other student groups across campus through the game, to amplify and mutually reinforce the overlapping sustainability goals of groups around campus. 

Education & Outreach:

A big source of the outreach will be through existing student networks. Part of the co-design plan for each RSO will be to commit to showcase the game at one or more event(s).  

We look forward to showcasing the game at campus events including Fall Sustainability Fair, Dawg Daze, Earth Day 2019, and through coordination with Student Life and HFS. We will also collaborate with RSO’s to host drop-in events in the Odegaard Library media arcade, and the HUB Game Center, and with the UW Game Club.  
Online publicity will include the quarterly EarthGames newsletter, which reaches over 500 people, and through EarthGames social media channels.  We will invite each sustainability organization who participates in co-design to write a blog entry about their microgame development process, which we expect will generate interest among game designers in the EarthGames network.  

Environmental Impact:
  • Energy Use
  • Food
  • Transportation
  • Waste
  • Water
Project Longevity:

The 60SS app will be maintained by the EarthGames group.  EarthGames Studio is an official UW class that is offered at least twice each year.  We anticipate that the 60SS game will forge lasting relationships with green RSOs across campus, so we can roll out new microgames associated with campus groups and their evolving initiatives.  These can be released via updates through the app stores, which takes anywhere from ~1 hour (Google Play store) to ~2 days (iOS App Store) to become available.  

We will also make sure that the app continues to run on new-generation phones and tablets.  We utilize the Unity game engine, which has frequent updates in order to assure that apps made with the engine can run on state-of-the-art devices.  

Environmental Problem:

With 60SS, we aim to expand the perception of ‘who does sustainability’ by using student-inspired digital games to build connections, both within existing groups and to new students who might not otherwise think about sustainability.    

A large body of market research suggests that peer modeling is a powerful motivator for behavior change. This game capitalizes on the power of peer-modeling to influence individual and collective behavior around sustainability. The games will target many, small-scale sustainability actions that students can take, including reducing waste, encouraging composting, energy efficiency, lowering carbon footprint, and joining a green group on campus.  The microgames will be linked with the current campaigns of environmental RSO groups.  By showcasing a series of individual actions that are connected to the work of student groups, the game will promote social bonding around sustainability values, and individual behavior changes. 

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.  To raise awareness of the Global Sustainability Initiative's biogas food truck project, we may depict composting food scraps into a digester and lighting the biogas produced.  

Explain how the impacts will be measured:

We will measure the impacts by tracking the number of downloads of the app and the number of showings and people reached at campus events.  We will also track involvement of sustainability RSOs using metrics such as the number of microgames produced and participant involvement at different levels.  

We will solicit feedback, through surveys, from participating RSO’s in two phases:
1) After the design phase, to assess the impact of the participation on the RSOs
2) After launch events, to gauge the response of participants

These survey results from both end-users and RSOs will be summarized in a blog about the process of collaborative sustainability game design. 

Our goals for involvement is participation of 8 RSOs, implementation of 15 microgames, 50 students involved in game development, and 1000 downloads of the game in the first 3 months. 

Total amount requested from the CSF: $26,043
This funding request is a: Grant
If this is a loan, what is the estimated payback period?:


ItemCost per ItemQuantityTotal Cost
Rivkah Parent, undergraduate student artist$24.14/hour ($20/hour plus 20.7% benefit rate)200 hours$4828
Judy Twedt, graduate student manager$30.18/hour ($25/hour plus 20.7% benefit rate)200 hours$6035
Samuel Dassler, EarthGames lead designer$6685/month (salary, including 32.5% benefit rate)2 months$13370
Undergraduate student programmer$18.11/hour (including 20.7% benefit rate)100 hours$1810

Non-CSF Sources:

Dargan FriersonUnfunded faculty liaison
Frierson RCR FundUsed for budget overruns
EarthGames Support FundUsed for budget overruns
Project Completion Total: $26,043


TaskTimeframeEstimated Completion Date
Co-design microgames with sustainabililty RSOsSpring quarter 2018June 1, 2018
Finalize art/gameplay and test with RSO contactsSummer quarter 2018September 1, 2018
Publish game to app store and rollout in orientation eventsend of summer 2018September 15, 2018

Project Approval Forms: