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Using serious games to address air quality as an environmental health problem


In Utah, air quality is a chronic concern for much of the state. Poor air quality contributes to health problems and reduces life expectancy, and the geography of air quality reinforces these as social and environmental justice issues. Choosing among a range of solutions is complicated by strong values, vested interests, and unequal burdens, raising the stakes for policymakers and community members.

Serious games are used to facilitate exploration of value-laden decisions and support stakeholder learning. Serious games encourage players to consider alternative paths and trial innovative approaches without threats of real consequences. In this way, players can safely and collectively confront mental models of different solutions, building capacity to negotiate complex social problems and minimizing social barriers to action.

Our team will develop a research-informed serious game to support collective learning in diverse communities. Players work to reduce emissions while avoiding stress on local economies and community health. Instead of focusing strictly on technological solutions, this game will emphasize social challenges to achieving clean air goals, especially those tied to community values. We will use a framework that assesses conditions required to promote individual-scale cognitive and relational learning and to connect this to behavioural change. This project addresses strategic goals by engaging communities through play to improve health and quality of life.


Current Status

2021-09-16
Abstract:
In Utah, air quality is a chronic concern for much of the state. Poor air quality contributes to health problems and reduces life expectancy, and the geography of air quality reinforces these as social and
environmental justice issues. Choosing among a range of solutions is complicated by strong values, vested interests, and unequal burdens, raising the stakes for policymakers and community members. Serious games are used to facilitate exploration of value‐laden decisions and support stakeholder
learning. Serious games encourage players to consider alternative paths and trial innovative approaches without threats of real consequences. In this way, players can safely and collectively confront mental models of different solutions, building capacity to negotiate complex social problems and minimizing social barriers to action. Drawing on interviews from a range of stakeholders, our team developed a serious game to support collective learning in diverse communities. In the game, players take on the roles of community members in ‘Lowville’, an intermountain capital city with a long‐term air quality problem that is
exacerbated by geography, growth, and industry. From these roles, they negotiate different solutions to actively to reduce emissions while avoiding stress on local economies and community health. Instead of focusing strictly on technological solutions, this game emphasizes the social challenges to achieving clean air goals, especially those tied to community values. Cognitive, relational, and normative learning
outcomes are assessed through pre‐ and post‐game surveys, which will be used to inform on the effectiveness of the serious games approach. We would like to recognize student team members Hannah Satein, Sarah Hunt, and Lucy Holland for
their contributions, as well as our community participants and game players.

Collaborators

Ben Davies
College of Social and Behavioral Science
Anthropology
Project Owner

Kathryn Davies
College of Social and Behavioral Science
Geography

Jeff Rose
College of Health
Health-Kinesiology-Recreation

Danya Rumore
S.J. Quinney College of Law
College of Law

Project Info

Funded Project Amount
$15K

Keywords
air quality, serious games, environmental health, collective learning, community health, social justice, situation assessment.

Project Status
Funded 2020

Poster
View poster (pdf)
Last Updated: 9/1/21