The Amazing Race: MIT

Zach Collins, Divya Goel, Meghan Kokoski, Tricia Shi

For our participatory data game, we envisioned a Bluetooth – enabled mobile game that aims to demonstrate the impact that individual transportation decisions have on the environment. The Bluetooth aspect allows you to connect your results to the other MIT players, and show how transportation decisions, when considered collectively, have an even more significant impact.

The data shows that personal cars, even when taken for a short distance, can emit a large amount of carbon, and that even public transportation produces carbon emissions. If walking and biking produce no per-use carbon emissions, then why doesn’t everyone chose these two options? Then answer is that these options come with the tradeoff of time. We wanted users to consider the tradeoffs of taking different forms of transportation because often it is not realistic to walk everywhere. These are implemented as constraints: a time cost, monetary cost, and carbon cost. The version we created for the sketch gives you these constraints (90 mins, $50, and 40 carbon credits) on an individual level. However, our goal for an expanded version would give a set of constraints for a group of people playing together, in order to emphasize the impact of collective decisions and incorporate concepts such as carpooling.

Our target audience for our game is MIT students. We selected tasks that would be common for a MIT student, as this will allow the results to resonate with our audience. As they select which mode of transportation, students are able to select what they would personally do. Because it is a mobile game, we would not need to set up a physical space for students to play, but rather we would just advertise the game to students through emails, and flyers around campus. We also think that we could get students playing the game with a booth in Lobby 10.

The first time a user plays the game, they are given only the time and money constraints. The emissions factor is brought in later on, so that students are able to see the difference in time and carbon production of their choices when making them under different pressures. We hope that once the results are shown, students will be more conscience of their transportation decisions. The collective totals will serve to demonstrate to students that transportation decisions are not isolated and if everyone considers the environment, then the effects can make a real difference.

link to app mock up: