Create your own world for environmental study

June 7, 2016

Lisa Evans is looking for volunteers to play her planet engineering game

Lisa Evans with a still from her planet engineering game

A Murdoch University PhD student is looking for volunteers to play the planet engineering computer game she’s created.

Lisa Evans from the School of Veterinary and Life Sciences, is hoping to find out whether her ‘choose your own adventure’ style game can influence the way people think about how the world works.

The game asks players to engineer a perfect planet for a wealthy alien species using different earth-like environments like oceans and lakes, forests and deserts to influence the climate.

Players can also choose how far away from the sun they want the planet to be, how much carbon dioxide they want in the atmosphere, and how much water and land will be on the planet. The game uses climate simulations to guide the results of the chosen pathways.

“I want to see whether the game is fun and engaging. It’s not overly educational but I hope it sparks players’ interest in finding out more for themselves about the world,” said Ms Evans.

Originally studying astro physics in the 1990s, Ms Evans developed a passion for game creation and moved into 3D animation. She now runs her own gaming business with her partner.

She decided to return to science via her PhD because she has a passion for the democratisation of knowledge, or information being accessible to everyone.

“The simulations I use in the game I’ve created give more people the chance to experience scientific models in a more tangible and hopefully fun way,” she said.

“The knowledge gained from participation in the game may help others in future by making sure that efforts to communicate complex scientific topics are better tailored to the audiences they want to reach.”

Volunteers interested in playing Ms Evans’ game will need to complete an online questionnaire about their perceptions of environmental issues. This can be accessed via the study website here.

Those invited to attend a workshop to play the game will be picked to ensure a wide variety of perspectives and backgrounds are represented in the study.

Participants will perform a concept mapping exercise before and after playing the game and three to six months later, they will be asked to fill out another questionnaire to ascertain whether their views on complex issues facing the world have changed.

Ms Evans is hoping to run her next gaming workshop later this month.

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