CMU Faculty Design Ecological Management Hybrid Video/Board Game

CMU faculty members; Joe Packer, Communication and Dramatic Arts and Tony Morelli, Computer Science combined their talents to design a hybrid video/board game which teaches the value of effective Eco-planning. 

The game, titled Rangers vs. Planners, was accepted into the Meaningful Play Conference which welcomed more than 300 attendees, from 31 states and 8 countries.  During this conference scholars and industry professionals gathered to discuss game development and design topics as well as examine ways in which games entertain, inform, educate and persuade.

How to Play:

Player One (City Planner):

Joe Packer explained, "We created a virtual world which is altered by the actions on a board game.  One player takes on the role of a city planner, rolling the dice to collect resources and allocating those resources into various buildings which they place on a map.  These buildings increase the player's score, but also have an environmental consequence for the other player within the digital world."  

Player Two (Wildlife Preservation):

Packer continued, "The second player manages the city's vulnerable wildlife population, and designates construction free zones. This player receives a score based on the health of the environment."

Determination of Winner:

Final tabulations for both players is a total of the scores based on construction and environmental protection.

The game breaks ground on two fronts:  its use of analog and digital inputs as well as being one of the few ecology-focused educational games in existence.  Through coordination, the two players manage development challenges and design a city which balances the needs of its human and animal populations.

Hewlett Packard's brand new 3D scanning technology, Sprout was used to design the game. Users simply place an object on the touch mat and tap the scan button.  Sprout technology captures a 3D color image of the object and allows the user to build intricate 3D models. Tony Morelli stated, "Not many people realize what is possible with this new technology.  During our game design phase we uncovered the prospect of helping individuals with a variety of disabilities."  He continued, "From motor to cognitive impairments, I see numerous ways this technology can change the way people live their lives."  

Both Packer and Morelli are actively brainstorming methods to not only increase the playability of hybrid games, which is a relatively new genre, but uncover the endless educational gaming opportunities. ​