Polar Bear and Glaciers: Seal Your Survival

by Margaret Tian, Tony Zeng, Tina Quach, Willie Zhu

The data says that sea ice cover in the Arctic is declining year-over-year. Declining sea ice is a major factor in the decline in polar bear populations because they primarily hunt on the ice. Thus, melting ice caps reduce polar bears’ ability to feed themselves and raise their children. From 2001 to 2010, polar bear populations have dropped by 40%. We want to tell this story because as a young child, you may hear about global warming, but not really know what it means or why it’s so bad. Even if you already associate melting ice caps with sad polar bears, do you really know what that looks like?

Our audience is 8 – 11 year olds who like animals and have yet to learn about the impact global warming has on their animals. Our goal is to use the specific example of melting ice caps and polar bears to teach these kids about how global warming hurts the animals they love. We accomplish this, through our design of a physical, Candy Land-inspired board game, Polar Bear and Glaciers: Seal Your Survival.

Depiction of our gameboard with the some ice tiles on it.

We used Arctic sea ice data to determine the amount of ice cover for each time period corresponding to each stage of the game. In particular, we looked at the amount of ice cover in the Bering Strait in 2012, 2014, and 2016. As the amount of ice decreases in the real world, the amount of ice in the game decreases proportionally. This is intended to mirror the struggle that polar bears have in the real world due to sea ice loss by increasing the difficulty of the game.

Our physical board game is an effective way to tell this story because it is a physically engaging, social way to collectively empathize and learn about the polar bears and their struggle for survival. Each player is put into the shoes of a polar bear that needs to eat at least 8 seals in order to survive the year, reflecting the real amount a polar bear needs to survive. As the players progress through the game, they discover how it gets harder to get the seals as the proportion of water to ice increases (See Game Rules here).

Race for Fuel Efficiency

Team members: Paul Choi, Miguel Garrido, Lawrence Sun, Kimberly Yu

The data say that different car models have different fuel economy levels, and the driving speed also affects how fuel efficient the car is. We want to tell this story because fuel efficiency is determined by so much more than just the type of car you drive. Most people are aware that certain cars (e.g. Prius) are more fuel-efficient than other cars (e.g. Ford). However, not everyone is aware that when you drive a car at a speed faster than its optimal speed, the car’s gas mileage decreases, more greenhouse gases are produced, and you end up wasting gas and money. Our audience is car buyers and drivers, and our goals are to teach participants about fuel efficiency for different cars at various speeds, and help them make better driving choices.

Our participatory data game is a digital multiplayer game where the goal is to reach the destination in the least amount of time while spending the least amount of money. Players are given 5 gallons of gas per round, and each gallon costs $3. Each round, a player chooses 1) a car model from four options (or keeping their current car) and 2) speed (ranging from 30 mph to 90 mph). After each round, the player’s balance is updated, and the player’s car animates across the screen to reflect the distance traveled and its speed. For each subsequent round, the player can choose to keep the car or choose a different car. A timer keeps track of how long it takes the player to travel 1000 miles, and the amount of money the player has spent is displayed. At the end of the game, a weighted total score is displayed. Choosing the type of car and the speed while attempting to reach a destination within a time limit helps the player discover and learn that the type of car and the speed both affect fuel efficiency, and there is a tradeoff between time and money spent.

We based our data game off of the US Fuel Economy measurements and the MPG for Speed Calculator. Given the MPG values for vehicle models from the 2017 Fuel Economy guide, the MPG for Speed calculator helped us calculate the cost, distance driven, and driving time for each round in the game. The higher the MPG, the more fuel-efficient a car is, and the less greenhouse gas emissions the car will produce. However, if a car is driven faster than its optimal speed, the car becomes less efficient because the air resistance increases. We envision this game being incorporated into websites for car manufacturers, especially those that produce cars with high fuel efficiency, or at car dealerships. Car manufacturers can use this game to playfully inform customers about how fuel-efficient their car is compared to other cars. Car dealers can use this game to help customers make better decisions as well as make waiting time more exciting and beneficial.

Driver Personality Quiz

Team: Almaha Almalki, Mikayla Murphy, Ashley Wang, and Jingxian Zhang

The dataset we focused on was the US Fuel Economy Measurements. We noticed that fuel economy is not only related to vehicle classes but also to drivers’ driving habits, and found a list of tips and trips to improve fuel efficiency. We hope to tell a story about how driving habits and advanced vehicle technologies can improve fuel efficiency. Our target audience are car owners who want to save money in fuel efficiency. Our goal is to present players some knowledge about fuel efficiency (especially for vehicles they own) and how good their driving habits are.

Figure 1

The game will be on a racing arcade machine where players can have physical driving simulation. The screen is also a touch screen for all the digital interaction (Figure 1). In the game, players will be asked to finish a task, e.g. going to grocery store, in a route they select (city, highway, interstate). To win the game, they should try to reach higher fuel efficiency. Players start the game by choosing a vehicle and choosing a route (Figure 2). Then, they will answer some questions for the vehicle set up, such as whether to enable start-stop system and whether to take the canoe off the vehicle.

Figure 2

When en route, the game will monitor players’ driving habits such as whether they exceed speed limit and whether there are hard acceleration and braking. At the end of the game, players will receive their race result and their personal driving profile, which they can print out or share on social media (Figure 3). In the handout, players are shown how their driving habits and vehicle setup affects the money they can save on fuel and how to improve their fuel efficiency. By playing the game, players can actually relate their driving habits to the accurate amount of money they can save, and the driving personality in the profile can be a fun way for them to know how they drive and what to improve.

Figure 3

Choose Your Own BMW

By Nikki Waghani, Sean Soni, Sharlene Chiu, Margaret Yu

The data say that different cars get vastly different mileage, and mileage also varies from highway to city driving.  We want to tell this story because we want to educate consumers on the difference between cars and styles of driving when it comes to gas mileage.  Thus we have created a choose your own adventure game where the choice of car at the onset affects how the scenarios play out, with an emphasis on gas mileage, and a goal of acquiring “likes” along the way.  Our audience is specifically young professionals who are thinking about buying a BMW.  We plan to place our game in a kiosk in BMW dealerships.  Our goals are to educate consumers about their choices, and encourage consumers to buy more fuel-efficient cars in order to help BMW meet government requirements regarding the average fuel efficiency of their fleet.  

Our data is sourced from the 2016 information at fueleconomy.gov, and is the result of testing done by the EPA as well as by vehicle manufacturers with oversight from the EPA.  Using this data, we’ve designed a quick, easy, and fun way for someone entering a dealership to learn about the brand’s cars while figuring out what might best suit their needs. The goal is not to sell a particular car – this would be impossible as each person’s needs are very different – we will, however, help them learn the differences between a brand’s numerous cars without feeling overwhelmed.  In order to encourage the customer to play multiple rounds of this game with different cars, our kiosk will print out a coupon for free add-ons (such as window tint or undercoating) each time the game is played.  By playing multiple rounds of this game, the customer will get a feel for how much money they can save by buying a more fuel-efficient electric or hybrid car, and what some of the potential tradeoffs may be.  Our game also integrates educational facts into the game, such as the fact that fuel economy is better on the highway than in the city, and going above 60mph on the highway reduces fuel economy.  This game is much more effective than simply presenting fuel economy data, as it allows the consumer to interact with the data rather than just read it.

Global Warming Jenga Participatory Game

Global warming is inevitable, but if we play the game right, the results won’t be as catastrophic.

Completed tower top view

My data game is a modified version of Jenga. There are 3 stakeholders; environmentalists (pink pieces), politicians (green pieces), and human factors (representing fossil fuel companies, etc) . While staying in the confines of their roles, the players want to prevent the tower from falling as long as possible.

Completed tower
Completed tower and environmentalist starting pieces.

Player rules…

  • Each round, the factors player must remove any tile.
  • The politician player must remove or move one green tile each round.
  • The environmentalist can remove or move one tile every other round. Every other round they may add to the tower at their discretion. The environmentalist starts with 3 extra pink tiles to do this.
Tower foundation.

What these rules represent…

The factors player represents the human factors constantly adding instability to the system. It is the job of the other two players to counteract this.

While politicians have a lot of power, they can’t change the system completely by performing additions. Also they are confined to moves that are dictated by their constituents and party (they can only move the green tiles). Therefore, their stabilizing effort is very slow and, could be, destructive.

While environmentalists have the power and knowledge to do good and help the system, this is slowed down by politics and destructive human factors. Furthermore, they have less influence than corporations or politicians, and therefore less tiles.

Partial tower.

Player learning…

The first surface level learning comes from the pieces themselves, which all have different facts on them. The environmentalist tiles also have suggestions on them.

The color coded pieces with facts for the game.
A suggestion to help the problem.
An example of a piece fact.

However the deeper level is understanding how these role confines actually represent the current system and the issues within it.

Guess Your Green

Team Members: Erick Friis, Krithi Chandrakasan, Aina Martinez Zurita, Sam Resnick

The US fuel economy measurement dataset shows many surprising and non intuitive values for different car models. We want to tell this story, because we believe there is a disparity between perceived and actual fuel economy among car owners.

For our participatory data game we designed an interactive visual game on a mall display board that allows users to guess the relative efficiency of their car and compare this prediction with the true efficiency. The game initially prompts users to enter a prediction with the question “How efficient is your car?” and then allows them to input the make and model of their specific car to determine the accuracy of the prediction. Users will have to walk around to the other side of the kiosk to view the results creating an element of suspense. In addition to showing the disparity between the prediction and reality the game will also display similar vehicles that are more fuel efficient. This data will aggregate over many user interactions and will show the greyed out predictions of other users. This will create a graphic that is developed in real time and grows over the course of the day.

Our target audience for the game is individuals who go to malls, typically middle to upper class Americans. While more progressive and environmentally motivated individuals are likely to participate, we envision more widespread participation due to the unique and interactive aspects of the game. The game is applicable to both people with average incomes who drive vehicles like the Toyota Camry, and wealthier individuals who drive luxury cars like the Mercedes G550.  The participatory data game caters itself to the needs and desires of the particular user, based on what car they enter.  If they enter an average family vehicle, the system shows alternatives with similar safety rating, but if they pick a luxury or sports car, the system shows vehicles with similar horsepower.  The choice of a mall kiosk was especially important, as they are often located at high traffic locations and have great visibility to consumers.  Additionally, malls are typically located in suburbs where the primary mode of transportation is a car – think Long Island.

Our goals are to show that individuals generally believe they are more “green” than they are in actuality, as well as to motivate individuals to be more conscious of fuel efficiency and emissions when purchasing their next vehicle. Our interactive game does a great job of accomplishing the first goal by showing real time data on beliefs that are collected from many consumers at the mall. The second goal is accomplished with the call to action prompting users to be more conscious while also giving them specific vehicles to consider when making their next purchase.

The Arctic In Limbo

Team: Autumn Jing / Brandon Levy / Christian Feld / Kevin Zhang

We explored MASIE-NH which stands for the Multisensor Analyzed Sea Ice Extent – Northern Hemisphere. The data says that the Arctic is in peril as the ice cover has shrunk significantly over the last decade. We want to tell this story because losing the Arctic sea ice will result in very real consequences, from an increased number of life-threatening severe weather events to a positive feedback loop which will accelerate global warming, further destabilizing arid regions such as the Middle East.

We looked at data showing the daily extent of sea ice in the Northern Hemisphere from 2006 through 2016. We identified the annual low-point for each year of the data; that is, the lowest amount of sea ice in a given year. We averaged these annual lows for 2006-2010 and 2011-2015 and compared those numbers to one another and to the 2016 low-point. The 2011-2015 average low-point was 93% of the 2006-2010 average low-point, and the 2016 low-point was 88% of the 2006-2010 average.

Our participatory game is an effective and appropriate medium for telling this story. The limbo setup attracts people because at first sight it is a fun game. The ice extent low points mentioned above are represented by limbo bars of different heights.

The more the ice has shrunk, the lower the bar. Players get a short info sign at every bar, so that they know what it stands for. At the end of the track, there is one bar flat on the floor visualizing the scenario that the sea ice might totally vanish during the summer by 2040.

Once drawn into the physical experience, it is easier to bring our message across and encourage participants to act. A future iteration of this project would guide players to a website that provides a second layer of learning for the players. This site could also show time lapses of the ice extent in specific regions of the Northern Hemisphere.

Our audience is citizens in districts whose representatives are members of the House Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy, where “H.R. 861: To terminate the Environmental Protection Agency” is currently under review (15th district of Illinois / 3rd of Mississippi / 16th and 18th of Pennsylvania / 5h and 6th of Texas / 8th of North Carolina).

Our goal is to show people in those districts one of the consequences of global climate change and motivate them to call their representatives and demand that they block H.R. 861.

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: https://marvelapp.com/5b96b9b/screen/27337169