Virtual Tabletop Game
Carnegie Museum of Natural History
Design, Research, Evaluation
Steve (Yangjian) Wang
Discuss plastic pollution in Pittsburgh with museum visitors
It was implemented using Steam's Tabletop Simulator and played virtually over Zoom.
Players begin the game by choosing to role-play as one of four actors...
..each with a location on the map of Pittsburgh.
Plastic waste is represented by cubes of different sizes, located at each of our actor sites.
In a 3-card round, players choose the best plastic-reducing decision.
In the first two rounds, players choose a decision card based on their chosen role.
Based on their card choices, players move plastic around, on or off the board.
The "Level of Action" determines how much plastic waste is moved to another location or removed from the board.
Learning builds over 3 rounds:
At the end of the game, the facilitator tallies how much plastic was removed from the board, and marks the rest as headed for the landfill.
This describes guidelines for CMNH to develop its public outreach activities centered on educating people about their impact on the environment, as individuals and, crucially, as communities.
CUSP emphasizes communicating the local relevance, interconnectedness, and participatory nature of the harm and help we do to our environment.
Their early insight into the issue of plastics in Pittsburgh, as well as their feedback regarding how our activity met their CUSP Theory of Action, was instrumental in refining our game and developing our evaluation strategy.
We broken down this question into potential indicators and evaluation methods using these logic models:
Our chosen methods:
"I'm kind of surprised that [this card] is the same value as the one I chose."
But this initial strategy did highlight for us that expressions of frustration as well as surprise could be good indicators of learning.
In addition, we learned that playing alongside others led to the richest conversations, and that a "make-your-own-card" round requires greater scaffolding.
Role-playing games are time-consuming!
They offer a rich learning experience through conversation.
Museum staff advised us that even teens only commit 3 - 8 minutes of attention to a game on the museum floor.
And we learned from playtesting that conversations might be less rich in the first round, as players learn the game mechanics.
Related to streamlining, playtesting taught us that players reflect on concepts learned through the gameplay mechanics, like comparing their results to their co-player’s, and big-picture thinking of how plastic moves as a system.
Museum staff recommended a self-guided exhibit, with the facilitator standing by for questions.
& all of our playtesters