Cards against loss of humanity – researchers create free climate change game

Researchers at Staffordshire University have developed a free card game to help educate children about climate change

In My Boat cards held in a hand

The 'In My Boat' card game is freely available to download

It has been recognised that climate change is under-taught in schools, and this project provides an educational resource for teachers which also addresses growing 'eco-anxiety' recorded in young people.

Dr David White, Senior Lecturer in Games and Visual Effects

In My Boat is a fun and competitive card game that challenges players to outsmart their rivals and build the most resilient ecosystem. The game, although intended for all, is primarily aimed at school pupils aged 10-15 and is available for free.

Dr David White, Senior Lecturer in Games and Visual Effects, said: “It has been recognised that climate change is under-taught in schools, and this project provides an educational resource for teachers which also addresses growing 'eco-anxiety' recorded in young people.

“We want the game to be accessible to everyone, and so it can be download for free from our website and printed.”

David enlisted members of the public to co-create the game and set up a community group based in Stone, funded by Staffordshire University’s Participatory Action Research Programme.

It follows a pilot study at the Potteries Museum in Stoke-on-Trent where David used a computer game simulation to demonstrate the effects of global warming and marine pollution to the public.

“It is the general public who this research is going to affect the most, not scientists or computer games developers. So, we decided to get them involved in collecting research and designing a game,” he commented.

“Our aim was to understand how we could design a game that is educational but also encourages people to change their behaviour.”

The group collected public perceptions of climate-change and found that most people felt both individual responsibility towards the environment and a collective responsibility to help protect it.

The data also found a positive response to both board and card games because they are simple, low-cost, and bring family and friends together. A card game format was chosen as it was easy to reproduce, reduced the complexity of rules and had a minimal setup time.

In the game, players, or optionally teams, have the aim of building a complete ecosystem – a pyramid structure of lower-order to higher-order species. Players can hinder their opponents by stealing their cards, or inflicting environmental disasters. These actions in turn can be defended with cards promoting sustainable, positive, long-term environmental strategies.

Becky Sawyer, a teacher from Stafford Manor High School, was part of the community research group.

“The process of helping to develop the game was as hugely enjoyable as insightful,” she commented. “It was fascinating to work as a group, and to see how lots of ideas, thoughts, opinions and knowledge were democratically shaped into tangible outcomes, in a fun and meaningful way.

“Anything that is hands on, and experiential works really well in a classroom. It will be a solution-focused approach to real problems, that are do-able. The premise of the game allows the participants to see they can be part of a solution, and that everyone single person’s input counts.”

Find out more about ‘In My Boat’ and download the game for free at https://www.inmyboat.com/.

'In My Boat' playing cards

'In My Boat' playing cards

'In My Boat' playing cards

'In My Boat' playing cards

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