Play away CO2

(Pitched: 13/04/2018)

One Page Summary

Big picture
Climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time: international organisations, governments and even companies agree on that. Scientific evidence is abundant, but still it has never been so hard to generate collective action. Why so? People tend to put abstract problems away and have difficulties in assessing long-term risks. In fact, climate change is a “perfect problem”: no deadlines, no geographic location, no single cause or solution, no obvious enemy. For the way that the human brain is wired, it makes it hard to make sacrifices in the present, to avoid uncertain losses in the future. Simply laying across facts doesn’t seem to do the trick either, so what else can we do?

Game based learning
Computer games transport cultural values, role models and can influence behaviour. Three years ago, we started out with a vision by proclaiming: “Millions played Tamagotchi and it was a total waste of time. What if we could leverage this potential for real-life change and play away CO2?” The idea of EcoGotchi as a sustainable lifestyle tutor and gamification app was born. A creature living on your phone educates you about sustainability, your surroundings and its well-being depends on your decisions and actions. With Ecogotchi Escape Book, we aim to further change learning experiences in the classroom and at home.

So far
We developed Ecogotchi as an application aiming to be used by educators in workshops, with secondary school pupils. It is centred around Torby – a small creature living on your mobile whose wellbeing depends on the user’s consumption choices. The app comes together with printed sheets which can be used in workshops as learning material. With the app, the content comes to life as holograms, in addition to existing games and quizzes, all linked to the content on consumption, nutrition, mobility, housing and household appliances. We have delivered workshops together with the government of Salzburg in schools as a part of the region’s strategy on climate change. So far over 1000 pupils have taken part in Ecogotchi workshops, which made us develop a v1.0 teacher guidebook on how to employ Ecogotchi in the classroom. The feedback we received was very good, both teachers and pupils were thrilled about playful learning. Improvements suggested include tailoring content to curriculum (biology, geography). Additionally, we have tested several models for ensuring the business sustainability of the app.

Ecogotchi Escape Book
Our idea for further developing Ecogotchi is to develop an Escape Book as an innovative game-based learning format. The popular Escape Rooms are physical spaces in which various puzzles have to be solved to get to the exit. Combinatorics, skill and attention are required and above all teamplay. We considered how to transform this experience into the classroom. The Escape Book answers the interactivity learning needs of digital natives while offering an easy-to-use format for teachers and educators. “Escape Book” means both the physical book and the application used jointly: printed content comes to life through quizzes, games, mystery and augmented reality, which are available on the app. The printed book will benefit from expanded content, designed based on the curriculum and lesson plans for secondary pupils. Additionally, we aim to develop an expanded version of a teacher guidebook, including facilitation methods for offline games and trigger questions for debriefing both online and offline games. This means that the tool will be highly modular, allowing the book and app to be used by themselves (if parents want it), or alongside the guidebook, as a part of workshops or classes.

The EdTech sector and climate change education are both developing fast, but they are not necessarily well intersected currently. In EdTech there are emerging solutions mostly focusing on transversal tools for teachers, such as Wonde, Bibliotech, Aula. In climate change education, there are open source toolkits and materials, largely developed by NGOs, whose strengths don’t lie in immersive technology. Most of these are available online only in English, which makes it difficult for teachers to have access to ready-to-use materials. In Austria, we have already worked and are well connected to civic groups such as WWF, local and regional research institutions focusing on climate change, and this has supported and improved the content of our product. We are a member of Impact Hub Vienna. In addressing the challenge posted by DOOR, we aim to run workshops with local stakeholders in Zagreb/Croatia, including DOOR staff, teachers, local institutions, parents, to tailor the product to local needs. DOOR has already mentioned they are willing to contribute their extensive network and are aiming to run a focus group in May already.