4Decades is a game developed to enable large groups to explore and critique scientific models of global climate economics. It is based on a real-time dynamic simulation that teams interact with via distributed tablets and public displays. Studies of its real world use show significant learning gains. By using available and affordable technology in novel ways, the game provides a unique opportunity for active learning, face-to-face discussion and reflection.
4Decades is a competitive team game for up to 30 players in the roles of policy makers on two virtual planets, each divided into 4 regional governments. In every round of the game, the regions decide on investments for the next decade, trying to balance between greenhouse gas mitigation, adaptation to climate change effects and residual repairs. Using a network of iPads and projection screens, players explore how their local decisions affect environmental and economic situation.
The game offers a certain degree of choice for players to tweak the winning condition and the parameters of the underlying model. By making substantial design decisions toward creating a realistic simulation, players learn how the quest for sustainable strategies depends on how we believe our future planet functions.
4Decades has been used in high-profile executive training courses with success and will be evaluated in secondary school classrooms. We hope that we can find ways to make this novel learning application accessible to a wider range of audiences by re-implementing the game to run on a standard web server. This would allow school-teachers to deploy the game in classrooms.
Stefan Kreitmayer is a second year full-time PhD student, based at the Centre for Research in Computing at the Open University. His background is in computer science and music, including audiovisual performances and interactive media installations. He gave programming workshops at art and design academies and afterschool programmes. He is researching the design and evaluation of multi-player games for co-located learning, at the intersection of Human-Computer Interaction, climate change and game design.