In 2013, Eco Action conducted a study into the potential for using play as a learning and engagement tool to deepen the understanding and appeal of sustainable living.
A number of familiar games were re-designed to contain positive environmental messages and describe actions that players could adopt at home, work, shops and while travelling. Games included versions of Top Trumps, Bingo, Snakes & Ladders and Play Your Cards Right. Simple, familiar and multi-generational games were chosen to avoid any barriers to engagement and encourage conversation.
Events were in held in a variety of locations including the Science and Natural History Museums, schools, the WI, Age UK residential day-care centres, businesses and festivals. The venues were transformed into pop-up eco-playgrounds where attendees were encouraged to play the games and discuss issues highlighted. The games were also used to engage employees with their organisation’s sustainablity programme.
The results suggest there is potential for using games to explore green issues and encourage people to adopt positive actions. The shift from a ‘doom and gloom’ focus to a positive, interactive approach appealed to participants:
- 97% enjoyed the event
- 86% enjoyed learning new information while playing the games
- 51% said they would be taking action as a result of what they had learnt.
Follow up surveys found that events resulted in a saving of one tonne of carbon emissions per participant.