Category Archives: Sydney University
Captain P is my Habitat user name. I have 3268 Habitat points which places me in 45th position on the leader board. A couple of weeks back I received an email from 7 year old Madeline telling me she loved the game and she was top of the leader board with over 5000 points.
I can’t see Madeline from my position but I am sure she has racked up many more points by now.
When players sign in we are all asked to sign onto the honour system by ticking a box that says we promise to tell the truth about our real world missions. So there is no way for us to verify if players are lying about what they have done in the real world but I am able to tell you about what I have achieved in the month I have been playing. I have tried to be as accurate about my behaviours as possible and according to my profile I have saved:
– 240 buckets of water,
– 103.8 feet of land, and
– 5181 balloons of carbon.
So what does this mean? It is the team at Integrated Sustainable Analysis at Sydney University who have up with the algorithms and our measurement tools.
The number of buckets represents the litres of water based on an averaged sized 10 litre bucket or 2.64 gallons.
The number of footprints represents the area of land that a player has NOT disturbed by their actions. The measurement is based on a typical human footprint area of 300 cm2 or 47 square-inches.
The number of balloons represents the volume of greenhouse gas emissions measured in terms of volume of C02 gas, 1 kg or 2.2 pounds.
Remember all of these actions are based around rewarding players when they are under the national average.
So if we add all of my measurements up I have saved:
– 2,400 Litres of water or 576 Gallons of water
– 31,140 cm2 or 4,878.6 square inches of land
– 5181 kg or 11,398.2 pounds of carbon
I could keep calculating to tell you that each gallon of gas you put in a car produces 14 pounds of carbon dioxide. My behaviours equate to about the equivalent savings of over 800 gallons of gas.
Although we can never verify the actions of our players, right now we have a couple of thousand kids playing and collectively they have saved:
Community Saved Water Buckets: 32703.48
Community Saved Soccer Fields: 882965.09
Community Saved Light bulbs: 2935397.98
And who said kids can’t make a difference? It is going to take top down and bottom up approaches to address global issues like climate change and we need our kids to know they can be part of the solution.
We are keen to know what you have saved and what that equates to. Please share your profile with us on Facebook:
To learn more about how Sydney University came to calculate these savings go to our previous blog post:
The team at Integrated Sustainability Analysis (ISA) in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney have been working with the gang at Habitat to create metrics for the players behaviours that will resonate with our demographic.
We are measuring the amount of carbon, water and land saved. These measurements are represented as:
The players will be learning:
“The number of buckets represents the litres of water you have saved. The measurements are based on an averaged sized 10 litre bucket (2.64 gallons). 70% of the world’s surface is water and only 2.5% is freshwater with less than 1% of the freshwater accessible to humans.”
“The number of footprints represents the area of land that you have NOT disturbed by your actions. The measurement is based on a typical human footprint area of 300 cm2 (47 square-inches). By reducing your resource use, by consuming different sorts of products or by reducing waste, you are treading more lightly on the planet.”
“The number of balloons represents the volume of greenhouse gas emissions that you have saved. Measured in terms of volume of C02 gas, 1 kg (2.2 pounds) of CO2 is equivalent to 140 typical party balloons. CO2 is the most important greenhouse gas contributing to global warming.”
We have based the point system in the game around incentivising the players towards a 25% reduction in their carbon, water and land use – compared with the national average.
Below is our most current calculations showing the player reductions and the links to the point (reward) system:
We have officially started testing with Habitat the game.
If you know any potential players aged between 7-12 please let us know and we will send you the game.
What we need is feedback.
We have been working with Dr Chris Dey and Jacob Fry. Below are some notes about how they have set up the figures behind the game.
“The game has the task of conveying ideas of both responsibility and empowerment to the player. Responsibility here means creating the link between lifestyle choices and consumption habits, and environmental impact. The consumption of goods and services in Australia create environmental (and social) impacts all over the world through complicated supply chains. Often the environmental impacts of production are hidden to the consumers of final goods and services which makes it difficult to conceptualise these impacts. The game encourages the players to accept some responsibility for these consequences, without overwhelming them. The assignment of responsibility is tempered by empowerment to alter these impacts through lifestyle and consumption choices. The game guides players through relatively simple changes that cumulatively reduce their environmental impact.
The game aims to reduce the total impact of the players while recognising the importance of relative or fractional change as well. All reductions in environmental footprint should be encouraged, however the effect of this reduction should be compared to the scale of the problem and not be in ignorance of the environmental footprint that remains.
Environmental impact of players will be measured against a number of indicators, including energy, water, greenhouse gas emissions and ecological footprint. These data will be collected from the players over time to establish their personal footprint. The players then complete real world tasks, or actions, to improve their footprint. For each action, the change in environmental impact will be calculated against the national average and combined to determine an overall footprint:
– Water (ML)
– Emissions/Energy (t-CO2e)
– Land (ha)
Habitat points are an easy way of summarising the player’s progress in the game and allow them to communicate this progress with their peers. The ‘player profile’ will contain information about Habitat Points and the actual environmental indicators. These indicators could be presented in standard metrics, such as mega-litres (ML) or hectares (ha), as well as simplified metrics which may be easier for the players to understand – such as ‘swimming pools’ or ‘football fields’. The player profile could also contain the details of completed actions, this may also create peer pressure to ensure that these actions are actually completed or maintained.”
The making of this game has been an interesting journey. We looked at many options when raising money including government agencies, sponsors, educational entities and broadcasters.
One of the hurdles we hit surprised us. We were asked; Should you be making a game that suggests to kids that they can have an influence on climate change?
One institution said “we have to ask if a game proposing individual action on a problem that can only productively be addressed at the policy level is useful.” While a broadcasters said “the major issue for us is the link (or implied link) between actions in the real world and climate change.” They did not want kids to think they could make a difference on the animal’s habitat they were caring for.
We have always been very clear about why we are making this game and our reasons have not changed.
We want to create a game that is incredibly fun to play but at the same time empower kids and give them information that will make them more resilient and enabling to join the debate.
We know that kids feel incredibly disempowered when it comes to environmental problems and climate change. We are focusing on the individual behaviours that they do feel in control of. They will be able to see how much they can achieve if they work together as a community.
Public support is one of the crucial components needed for policy change and we are aiming to help kids understand basic principles.
Finally we asked Dr Chris Dey at Sydney University did he think Kids could make a difference?
Dr Chris Dey (Senior Research Fellow in the Integrated Sustainability Analysis (ISA) team in the School of Physics at the University of Sydney) talked to us about the research they are undertaking at the ISA and how they measure footprints.
In the publication below the team at ISA have recorded imports and trade for 187 countries, over 20 years, for 15,000 different industries. Remarkably this data allows them to show the impact individual product purchases have on life cycles in other countries and on different species.
Chris and his team are adapting this incredibly detailed research to provide the analysis of kid’s footprints measuring impacts in terms of land, carbon, water and energy.
Check out the background publication here:
In the interview below Dr Chris Dey talks about how they work out ecological footprints
The team at Sydney University’s CoCo were kind enough to host our first team meeting in their interactive room. The learnings from the day will be used in CoCo’s research and our team had the chance to dig down into the mechanics of the game.
It was an inspiring gathering. We were able to take full advantage of the interactive room by drawing on the walls, sharing designs and game flow charts. We also used the tech to phone in Erin from the States!
Below are some photos of the day