I’ve reached my fifth year of BCM now, and those who’ve been following along have probably noticed a common trend when observing the theme of my DA’s: If it’s not something to do with laser cutting, it’s something to do with food waste. And so for this group project (sadly, my last for BCM), I inevitably stuck to the tradition and forced my group to join me in this passionate pursuit!
However, my contribution to the group project so far has extended beyond simply pushing the theme of waste on my unsuspecting team mates, and trying to get everyone as bolstered and enthusiastic as I seem to be about it. Instead, our group has been using weekly Zoom meetings to look at innovative and creative ways of designing a board game which educates children about waste, but is somewhat “disguised” as something else, through clever theme and character development. Our goal overall is to create a fun means of educating a younger demographic, through which children and young adults can learn about facts surrounding waste, without feeling like they’re being lectured about it.
My contribution to the task has primarily been through research thus far. I began by looking at waste and the demographics surrounding waste in Australia. So far I’ve found that there most definitely would be a market for an education waste game, particularly aligning with the Waste Wise Schools program which began in 1997. This is an “action-based program that encourages schools to move toward zero waste through their curriculum and operating practices…creating a Waste Wise culture across the whole school from classroom to operations and administration” (Cutter-Mackenzie, 2010).
“The overarching goals for the program are:
1. to bring about lasting change in school culture toward waste/litter minimization (and ultimately sustainability) through whole school engagement in learning and action for waste/ litter minimization and sustainability, integration of school curriculum and operations and the building of links with local communities; and
2. to bring about lasting cultural change toward waste/litter minimization and sustainability in families and the wider community through learning and action”(Cutter-Mackenzie, 2010).
With this in mind, I believe the demand for an innovative waste-wise game targeted towards children would most definitely be present. It is evident that a growing sustainability culture is active in Australian schools, and a game designed to align with this curriculum would be valuable, in our opinion. According to Cutter-Mackenzie (2010), “further research and development is now needed that moves beyond a 3 Rs (recycle, reuse, and reduce) approach that the Waste Wise Schools program espouses, and more appropriately considers the additional Rs, namely refuse, rethink, resist, and replant in order to encapsulate the impact and depth of school-based waste and litter education programs.”
A further research-based contribution I have made to this project has been in looking at similar games which might already exist, and assessing how these mechanics could be translated into our game and audience.
One example that Adrian brought up in our initial meeting was Goosebumps: Terror in the Graveyard. We particularly liked the roll and move mechanics of this game, but more so took inspiration from the way we might be able to use an interesting setting and the theme and characters of the “horror” genre to disguise this message of waste – through personas such monsters, wizards, zombies etc.
I also liked the game Hit the Habitat Trail, which I thought could be altered so that each section of the board is a different sector of waste (then disguised as a fantasy world- eg. Plastic Palace, Compost Cove etc.) and the quiz cards can be related to waste stats and facts (also using a simple roll and move mechanic).
The primary finding of my research, as well as considering at the course content in previous weeks, was looking at the philosophy of our game and how this translates in the synthesis between the mechanics and the narrative. As Holcomb (2017) writes, “as your game develops, your theme and your mechanics should start merging to create the experience of your game. The story of your game should help teach rules”. For this reason, we are looking to design a game which does not have a single winner or loser, but instead encourages players to work together towards a final goal (ie. reducing waste). In this respect, we hope waste reduction is painted in a positive light, which teaches children that they are all winners if they are working towards reducing waste.
Cutter-Mackenzie, A 2010, ‘Australian Waste Wise Schools Program: Its Past, Present, and Future’, The Journal Of Environmental Education, 41(3), 165–178, Routledge,
Holcomb, J 2017, ‘Story or Mechanics’, The White Box Essays, GAMEPLAYWRIGHT, Minnesota