4 February 2019

Serious games explain complicated stories in an accessible way

Students develop 'sustainability games'

Gamende studenten
Photo: HKU

Come up with and develop a prototype of a game that makes you to think about climate change and sustainability in only one week. This is the assignment that 124 students from Utrecht University (UU) and the Utrecht School of the Arts (HKU) received this week during a so-called game jam.

'A serious game is an excellent medium to explain such complex matters'

At the end of this week bachelor students from Utrecht University and Games and Interaction students from HKU will deliver a so-called serious game, a game where entertainment and a take home message go hand in hand. The UU students provide expertise in sustainability, and the HKU students are experts in the field of game design. In a course where students from such different backgrounds work together on one theme, the different disciplines enrich each other - that's the idea.

Four external partners join the project and give the groups of students a specific assignment. For example, De Herenboeren, an organization that engages in small-scale sustainable food production, wants a game that focuses on the ecological advantages of nature-inclusive agriculture.

Playable prototypes

"A serious game is an excellent medium to explain such complex issues," say Joost Vervoort, Astrid Mangnus and Karin Rebel, researchers at the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development who are organizing the project from the side of Utrecht University. "Precisely because such games contain an interactive or competitive element means that players are able to experience a complicated story themselves. This is why they are so great."

At the end of the game jam the students will deliver playable prototypes of a serious game. These prototypes can be played on Friday 8 February between 11.00 and 14.00 in the HKU Games and Interaction room.