Let’s play ₹ubbish!
Understanding a problem as complex as garbage with a game? No awareness drives, no lengthy speeches? Is that even possible? The feedback we received from a play-test session at Nextbangalore gave us some assurance that we were on the right track.
Nextbangalore is an effort to crowdsource ideas to think about Bangalore’s future, organized by Bangalore-based MOD Institute and Nexthamburg from Germany. And at this event, we tested our third prototype of our game ₹ubbish!.
We were joined by a group of inquisitive children from a nearby school who were curious how our game could help explain waste management in their city. Once the players got a hang of how the game worked, they had some very interesting insights of their own. It was fun to see them juggling between economic and environmental constraints in the game.
In the game, the players assume the role of a DWCC (Dry Waste Collection Center) manager. They initially bought just the segregated waste from their wards in order to maximize their profits. They commented that they planned to pool up their money initially so that they could in their own words, “Do some good later on.” Some players reprimanded the others about their actions and how it was affecting Mandur, but most of them admitted that that they simply could not afford to care about the landfill.
However, mid-game, they realized the environmental repercussions in Mandur could no longer be ignored and rushed to rectify their actions. As the game progressed, they came up with some innovative ideas like buying all the waste from their ward so that none of it went to the landfill. Even if they got economically worse off by doing that, they said that they were happy that at the very least, they were not contributing to the impossibly growing pile of garbage in Mandur.
What was more interesting, was to listen in on their conversations. When one of the players apologized for getting all the players to move their waste a step back by getting the unlucky chance card, one of the other players in turn apologized back for keeping the mixed waste in her DWCC.
In our discussion after the game, we noticed that it was much easier to talk to the players about the waste crisis as they were now exposed to problems in the game that very much mirrored reality. The players observed that playing the game, they realized that segregated waste has more value and was less polluting. They said that that in the end, it really boils down to every individual segregating their waste, which is precisely what we actually wanted to convey through the game in the first place.
After the game session, we had a chance to talk to a few citizens who had missed the session. Talking to them and the players about the game and the garbage situation of Bangalore, we felt our game had the potential to make some inroads.