At the start of this project, we both started off with an interest in psychological matters concerning sustainability. How for instance a greater awareness of causality could be a basis for you to think twice about what you do and what effects it could have. A change of mind like this would alter much more than just one or two of your habits. It would become a source for you to come up with your own solutions and more sustainable habits.
Road to Serious Games
This psychological aspect interested us so we began looking for what information already existed on this subject. It turned out there was a website called www.teachgreenpsych.com. It states in it’s introduction that: “The primary cause of all “environmental problems” is human behavior”. The intent of the site is to be a starting point for anyone who is interested in the subject, providing an extensive list of books and material to get you started. It also states that the psychology of sustainability itself is not yet recognized as relevant for preserving the planet.
Isabel Rimanoczy is a writer and she wanted to find out what drove people to do good for the planet or society. She thought that if she could find out what drove them, then maybe somehow she could evoke those same motivations intentionally, in other leaders. In this way she reasoned, she could create a generation of people working to preserve the planet.
Both these findings were about changing mindsets, but none of them were very practical about how to change mindsets. At this moment our research question was: How can we create a sustainable mindset in people?
With that question we stumbled upon a lecture of Joost Raessens a professor at the University of Utrecht, about how so called “serious games” could help change behavior to be amongst other things, more sustainable. It had everything we were looking for and it fitted our investigation on how to create a mindset. This was one lecture out of a series of called “Duurzaamheid als Wereldbeeld” (Sustainability as Worldview) all by different speakers.
This got us started on serious games. A term that refers to almost always online games that have a serious goal to them and aren’t just for entertainment.
There are serious games of all sorts ranging from games to help you get rid of financial debts to games enabling you to recover from injury. And thus also games to create a more sustainable behavior in people. Examples of these games are Opower, a game with which you can keep track of how much electricity you use and compete with friends on who uses the least. And Recylebank, a game where you can learn a more sustainable lifestyle and earn points to get discounts in real life.
After the discovery of serious games we changed our research question to: Of how much importance are serious games to the sustainability of our planet?
To figure out the answer to this, besides our research, we started to look for people working in the serious games industry to interview. We came up with an employee from the dutch serious games company “Ranj” and an entrepreneur within the industry, Dutch as well.
the company Serious Games who were willing to talk with us. We prepared some questions that were focused on what they thought the games did with the behavior of people and they were focused around the 3 p’s, People, Planet, Profit.
Our interviewees didn’t seem as convinced that their games really change behavior as much as we are from our research. Apart from that they do both see some growth in sustainability as a result of serious games. Our interviewees agree on serious games not being very social (our own research is in conflict with that, see our diagram). But they differ in their opinion about profit and planet. The cause of this might be the fact that Jurriaan Rijswijk is more of an entrepreneur where as Rob Nellissen is an employee.
Both do expect serious games to be of significant importance for the sustainability of our planet, but more pertaining to the future than to this very moment.
Both our opinions are really good on the new way of spreading information on a sustainable lifestyle through games. This will interest more of the younger community, which is our future that must preserve our earth. Also while you play the game you will learn without having to put in much effort, which makes it even more effective in our opinion.
Also we believe that is way of spreading is more effective because it is way easier to play a game then to read a book about a sustainable lifestyle. The games take less time to gather all the information that you need to create an opinion about it.