Serious Gaming and Higher Education

Let us not only teach the facts but also teach the experiences that bound these facts to our memories. The case of Perspectivity Climate Change Challenge in higher education.
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Apr 29, 2021

By Nick van Apeldoorn, Researcher & Lecturer at Breda University of Applied Sciences

Humans do not think in facts, numbers or equations, humans think in stories and emotions. Especially when we talk about abstract topics that we cannot see and only indirectly experience like Covid-19 and climate change. This is the climate paradox; we perceive urgency but don’t act on it. This paradox is partly caused by talking about climate change in facts, numbers and equations and not seeing visually its alarming effect on the world.

When I was a student, I started facilitating Climate Change Challenge game seven years ago. As a lecturer, involved in climate adaptation, I brought the climate game within our academy. In these seven years I facilitated meaningful games over and over. Change starts with learning about why and how climate change is happening. Games can be the perfect vehicle to teach about these changes in stories and experience. This is what convinced me to bring it within the academy; the game experience almost always delivers a deeper understanding of the complexity surrounding an adequate climate adaptation response.

Earlier this month, Stanford University invited me, among speakers from Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and UNC Chapel Hill, to talk at the Transport Research Board Annual Meeting about the added benefit of games in education and how we at Breda University of Applied Sciences incorporated the Perspectivity Climate Change Challenge game into our education.

At this talk I spoke about the dynamics of the game; how different challenges need different social negotiation skills, how this reflects in the real world. It is a great experience that gives people insights about why responses are often so slow and disappointing. The second part was about how we use these insights and experiences in the rest of the sustainability and Liveability course that is offered to all first-year students at Breda University of Applied Sciences and how this leads to deeper learning experiences.

Students experience this game as insightful and fun.

As in most cases, it often takes time to let the deeper understanding sink in. That is exactly why we played it at the beginning of the course and let them reflect in their papers, debates and designs on how it tackles a specific climate related problem.

I ended my story with a call to action: do not only teach the facts but also teach the experiences that bound these facts to our memories just like the ones in the climate game. Hopefully, this will lead to some online climate game sessions at some of the best universities in the US. To be continued.

More info?

Read more about the Stanford event, here

Read more about Perspectivity Serious Gaming, here

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