Can Role-Playing Games Change the World? How a Large Scale RPG can Communicate Science on Sustainable Consumption

The aim of this session is to give you as a communications officer inspiration to use role-play games or board games as a way of communicating science.

Maybe you feel like you change the world when you play Dungeons & Dragons. But with “Changing the game of consumption” you actually do. Or at least try. Because this one is based on the latest science. But the basics are the same as in any role-playing game. You as a player assume roles of different persons, organisations or companies engaged in, or affected by, the huge transformation of society that is needed to make our world sustainable.

The simulation runs as a combination of a role-playing game and a board game, with enough participants (20+) that the social dynamics between them helps us learn about socially complex change processes and different perspectives on sustainable consumption. That is, understanding things that might be too complicated for some to grasp in for example a scientific study.

We don’t have all the answers on how to create a sustainable society. But by engaging different people in this game where you can switch between being an oil company one time and Greenpeace or a trade union another, hopefully people will get a better understanding of what we need to do and how to do it. The hope is that even the researchers behind the game get new input from the participants.

In our workshop/circus you’ll get a short introduction of a scenario in the game and get to try one round of play. By this we want to start a conversation on the use of large-scale social games to make difficult research more accessible and hands on. And it is also a part of developing the game to become even better.

What we do:

Ola Leifler, researcher, Linköping University
Magnus Persson, game developer, Linköping University

Ola Leifner
Magnus Persson