Sustainability Action Arena: Video Games for Sustainability Targets at UW

Estimated Amount to be requested from the CSF: $30,000

Letter of Intent:

Our group EarthGames would like to build a video game Sustainability Action Arena that illustrates the targets of the UW Sustainability Action Plan. We will create ten levels of the game, one for each target of the plan. Sustainability Action Arena will be playable on web browsers and mobile devices. The game will be designed and tested by EarthGames staff, students participating in the ATM S 495: EarthGames Studio independent study course in autumn 2021, and paid undergraduate student employees.

The Games

We will design mini-games for each level that illustrate the concepts of each Sustainability Action Plan target. We hope to include actionable items that the players could participate in in the real world, as well as some quantitative information about the targets.

For instance, for Target #1, Doubling Sustainability Engagement of Students, Staff, and Faculty, we might design a level in which virtual characters are led through a maze to reach sustainability events such as Sustainability Stories, Whole U Quarterly Seminars, as well as volunteer opportunities on campus and around the community. The player would be successful if they can reroute enough virtual characters to the events to double the number of people participating in the events. In between levels, links will be provided for real-world events on campus.

Previous CSF Project

EarthGames developed a game called 60 Second Sustainability in 2018 with funding from CSF. The game had 21 different levels, which each introduced the work of a different environmental RSO in short level. Our staff member Rivkah Parent first worked with EarthGames doing art for these games, and learned programming and game design then as well. The game was successful in communicating the mission of the RSOs in a concise manner, and is still used in orientation and classes at UW to introduce environmental RSOs.

Other Prior Experience

EarthGames has experience developing high-quality, visually appealing, fun games in a short time and on a limited budget. Our team includes a programmer/artist, students from UW Seattle and UW Bothell who have taken the EarthGames Studio independent study course or volunteered, and two faculty liaison with a strong track record of supporting student outreach and engagement. EarthGames has released 13 apps to the Apple and Google Play app stores, and our page.

Creative Commons Licensing

We will make the code and art available under a creative commons license (CC-BY-NC-SA), so other higher educational sustainability initiatives can adapt the games for use on their campuses. We believe the CC licensing will also help with generating more impressions of the game and the Sustainability Action Plan. The game will be designed in the open source game engine Godot.


The core EarthGames team would work on the project during summer of 2021. EarthGames has been successful working in a virtual education setting over the last year, and are confident we can continue this work over the summer.

The ATM S 495: EarthGames Studio would be offered in autumn 2021, allowing more students to participate in the development of the project for course credit. The focus of the class would be on testing the effectiveness of the games developed over the summer, and polishing the games.

The game would be completed by December 2021.

Funding Estimates (all numbers are approximate)

We are requesting funds to support:

  • EarthGames programmer and artist Rivkah Parent: 5 months at $5000/month = $25,000
  • Undergraduate student employees: 5 students @ 50 hours each = 250 hours, at $20/hour = $5,000
  • Prof. Dargan Frierson (Atmospheric Sciences): unfunded project lead
  • Prof. Jessica Kaminsky (Civil and Environmental Engineering): unfunded collaborator

Total: $30,000

Primary Contact First & Last Name: Dargan Frierson