paula-dump-the-trump_lr2

So, we are all feeling a little bit hopeless and forlorn at the moment – right? Still battling to get through the stages of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression & Acceptance but kinda stuck at the Anger stage?

That feeling of helplessness in the face of a global calamity, the thought that there was nothing anyone can do to make things better – yep, we’ve all been there! But, joyfully, we have recently found a way out of this doom & gloom, a way to take back a little control and to feel empowered again!

Here’s the thing, we have been working in schools lots lately, using the whole compendium of our re-engineered social games to get those environmental messages across in a fun, interactive and inclusive way, and it has been working really well, especially using our star product, a twist on a popular, traditional British card game – trumps.

You might be able to see where we are going with this?

Our eco action trumps card game has been entertaining and educating children, and adults alike, pretty successfully over the last three or four years, selling in the region of 50,000 packs. However we have now hit a branding nightmare situation! Since the US election we have found that the game has been sullied by its inadvertent connection to the President Elect. The kids now think the game is all about ‘The Donald’, and, fair play to them, they are all pretty well informed about him and what he stands for.

Cue a typical Year 3 (7-8 years old) boy’s recent reaction to our innocent little game, “Yuk, is this a game about Donald Trump? He’s horrible he is, he hates girls and black people and Latinos and Mexicans and he’s going to build a big wall to keep people away – he’s really stupid”. Fair comment, I really couldn’t argue with him and was quietly impressed that he was so well informed about world affairs at such a tender age!

Hence lately we have been finding it really tricky to get our positive, eco inspired messages across in this new world order and that has been pretty depressing.

So you can imagine our dilemma: What on earth to do about it?

It seems a tad ironic that a game devoted to teaching people about the positive actions they can take to help save the planet, has the same name as a man who seems hell bent on trashing it. How could we share a moniker with a climate change denying, potential Paris agreement wrecking, fossil fuel loving President Elect?

Eventually we had a light bulb moment! This situation has left us with no choice, America might be stuck with this guy for the next four years, but we don’t have to be, hence we are going to dump trump for good!

So, on the 20th January 2017, inauguration day, we will be saying RIP eco action trumps and burying the brand for ever. We will return, with a new name, minus the toxic associations, shortly after.

This did leave us with a dilemma though, as we have quite a lot of stock still to sell, and we could not literally dump it, as that would go against every value we stand for. So, given the festive season is nearly upon us, and that we all need something to cheer us up, we have decided to give the remaining packs away to anyone who wants one (until our trumping stocks are exhausted obviously).

So that’s the plan, anyone who would like a pack of our, soon to be a collector’s item, eco action trump cards, can visit the giveaway ppage here and claim your pack for FREE, you just need to cover the P&P. But once they’ve gone, they’ve gone, so you’d better be quick!

Stop press

And the media has really got behind our little plan. On the 29 November when we went public with the story,  the BBC News online ran the story, read it here and it remained the 5th Most Read article on the site – which amused us no end.

The story was  featured on the BBC radio news, on Radio 2 here (1 hr 2 mins 4 secs in) and Radio 6Music here (1 hr 32 mins 20 secs in)

And even the big boys of the playground, Top Trumps, felt obliged to put out statements on Twitter to say that no, they were not changing their brand name! Incredible!

Olympics of Water Saving

photo-4For the second year running, eco action games showcased at the international conference and expo World Water Week in Stockholm. World Water Week is the annual focal point for the globe’s water community and we were lucky enough to be sponsored by ARUP again to bring our water themed eco games to the world stage!

You can read our blog about last year’s event by scrolling down to read our earlier blogs. But a lot has changed in a year … we have gone digital! At this year’s world water week we launched the inaugural online Olympic games of water saving!

www2Our online version is based on our ever popular In Real Life (IRL) giant card game – play your eco cards right, where teams of players have to guess if one water saving action has a higher or lower water saving in litres than another. For the online version, entitled eco action Higher? Lower? players test their water saving knowledge individually, but are also assigned to a team, so they are playing for their own pride as well as that of their team. There are 10 rounds, with a point scored for every right answer, and the results are added to the leader boards: one for individual players and one, just like the Olympics medal table, for the country the player represents.

We opened the tournament for 4 days durig the conference only and advertised to the delegates in the week before. Right from the get go the competition was fierce. There was a close battle in the country leader board with constantly changing top scorers each day. Iran took an early lead at the beginning of the week but the UK, US, India and Nepal were close at its tail. Iran was pulling in front again towards the middle of the week but was pipped to the post on the last day with India displaying a strong final push for that coveted gold position.  The final positioning on the medals table was: first place India, second Iran and third, Nepal.

As for the individual leader board we had a definite leader break away from the pack early on. This was Mohammed from Iran. He took the early lead and managed to maintain it throughout the week. The key to his success was not only an incredibly high average score but his consistency of playing the game the maximum times possible each day (three). Well done Mohammed!

Wwww1e had 30 countries take part in total, with over 100 participants signed up to play and 278 games played, scoring a total of 2160 points in total. Thanks to all those of you who took part, we loved watching water sector professionals from all over the world tests their water saving knowledge through our game.

A typical quote from a happy participant:

“I enjoyed playing the game. It was very user friendly, entertaining and educating at the same time.” Udayan, Nepal

On Thursday night Paula and I returned from an extremely eventful 4 days at COP21. There were some brilliant highs but also some infuriating and hilarious lows, which tested our resilience (as opposed to our day 1 of COPmas theme –  the resilience of the planet!) to new, uncharted levels.

photo 4First, the lows…..On arriving in Paris late Monday night we jumped in the nearest taxi to take us to our AirBnB, which resulted in being catastrophically ripped off for a 15 minute journey.  Then, as we were tutting our way out of the taxi the driver put the fear of god into us by declaring in best Franglais that we were in the dodgiest area in the whole of Paris (it was in Saint Denis after all)! So the man who had no qualms about right royally ripping us off was worried enough about us to stand and watch us as we got into our flat…the area was apparently that dodgy!

The bad luck continued as we discovered, on entering the apartment, that we were on the 6th floor and there was no lift, only a very narrow wooden spiral staircase! We had two 25kg suitcases full of games equipment and everything we needed for our event which were so heavy we had to do 3 return journeys up and down 6 flights of stairs! So this was about 10pm and we were pretty exhausted, but then, zut alors, our Airbnb host wasn’t answering! My phone had died and with Paula’s last 1% she managed to get hold of the host, who spoke little English, who eventually came to meet us and let us in – we then collapsed in an exhausted heap and slept soundly.

bike

The 10 mile journey to the COP21 venue the next morning took a grand total of 2.5hrs and consisted of getting lost on the walk to the station, buying the wrong train tickets, and then being stranded on the train whilst a ‘suspicious package’ was investigated in the station at le Bourget, but we made it in the end. Paula’s first stop was a bike powered mobile phone charger  – you can see her pedalling furiously HERE  – she loved it and wished her gym could install them! Although after 10 minutes of solid cycling she’d only added 1% to her phone’s juice level – which just goes to show how we take energy ‘on tap’ for granted, it was coincidentally day 2 of our COPmas campaign whose theme was energy use, so seemed appropriate that we were producing and using our own.

photo 13The mishaps didn’t stop there however, and our second day was just as eventful! So, after more struggling on the 6 flights of stairs to get all our games back down to take to COP21 for our event, we had the bright idea of getting an Uber taxi instead of battling public transport again. Just after congratulating ourselves for our cleverness in choosing Uber to get us there quickly and without incident, we got out and indicated to the driver (who didn’t speak English) that we’d get our suitcases out of the boot – he was being hassled at the time, by policemen with big guns, to move on. We stood next to the boot ready for him to open it, but imagine our surprise then, when he just sped off! We were frantically waving and shouting but he drove on oblivious to our distress and as we ran after him we received some stern looks from big, unfriendly looking, military types with even bigger guns, so we thought it wise to stop.

Rather gobsmacked, we watched our taxi disappear out of sight. Everything we owned was in the boot of that car!  After much panic and stress, a very kind French police man with impeccable English (yes they do exist!) helped us track down the driver and ordered him back – unfortunately for us he had picked up another fare and was en route to central Paris. So eventually, only an hour and a half late, we set up our eco action playground outside ARUP and AQUA’s Water is Climate event, and play commenced.

 

playgorund set up

The other extraordinary finding which took us by surprise at COP21 was the realisation that the French apparently love queueing even more than us Brits! The lunch queue was at least an hour every day and you can imagine my frustration when I finally got the front only to find there were no veggie options left! It also happened to be the third day of our COPmas campaign, where we discussed the environmental and climate change benefits of vegetarianism. We were absolutely starving, but tried our best to be stoical and resilient (again), and eventually found it very funny – once we’d upped our sugar levels with cake and stopped bitching about the carnivorous French!

Anyway…on a positive note there were many high points of our time at COP21. The multiculturalism of the conference was on a scale I had never before experienced and the positivity of the people in the Civil Society exhibit area was so infectious it made you feel like optimistic change was just around the corner and the right decisions will be made in the COP21 negotiations.

 

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indiginous people

We played some great games and had fascinating discussions with delegates during our playground event – American players, on receiving a prize of our eco action trump game, declared that we really would have to change the name of the game if we were going to crack the democratic American market!  And we received a fantastic response to our COPmas cards, given out during our time there, we gave out 1000 in 2 days. It was also heart-warming to see our COPmas campaign taking off so successfully on Twitter while we were away and lots of NGOs and organisations wanting to support it.

There was loads to see and do in the ‘Climate Generations’ exhibit area which was open to the general public. Have a look HERE at a massive sound system powered only by solar and bike, and HERE to see a beautiful wind turbine shaped as leaves of a tree, called ‘Aeroleaves’.

So, what can we conclude from our time at COP21?  Well, if it was down to the people present at the expo over these 2 weeks then our planet would be in safe hands. It was really heartening to see all of the stuff happening across the globe, by diverse people with different interests and lifestyles, all with the same core purpose of this planet’s future survival and resilience.  We came away feeling we could cope with anything that was thrown at us, after the four days we just survived, and feel just as positive that there is enough good will and positive vibes in Paris at the moment to hopefully ensure a happy COPmas for every human and animal and the planet itself!

Merry COPmas everyone.

We have just returned to eco trump towers after a wonderful week of watery playgrounds at the international World Water Week conference in Stockholm.

We were able to attend the conference thanks to the kind sponsorship and support of Arup, and were hosted by the event organisers SIWI (Swedish International Water Institute).

The photo to the right shows our Stockholm eco action team enjoying the beautiful weather we had all week– from left, Michael, Johnny, Lydia and Paula.  Mark from Arup also helped facilitating the games, and turned out to be a natural eco fun maestro, he was a big hit with the Swedish children on the snakes and ladders board!

Stockholm itself is built on 14 islands, which means that water is at the heart of everyday life there as you are constantly crossing bridges to get to different parts of the city. Here is one of many beautiful photos we took of the city itself.

Given its watery surroundings, it is apt that Stockholm is home to the annual international World Water Week Conference. The conference has been the annual focal point for the globe’s water issues since 1991, making this year the event’s silver Jubilee. The conference is a platform for over 250 collaborating organisations to convene events about water and development issues. It is also an opportunity for individuals from around the globe to present their findings at the scientific workshops. There were over 3000 delegates from 143 countries gathered to discuss all things water-related.

This year, we were one of those 250 organisations and we popped-up a water themed playground every day of the conference, outside, in the sunshine, next to this beautiful dandelion-esque water feature.

 

 

 

Each morning our watery playground was visited by groups of children from local Stockholm schools. The first morning of the conference we had a lovely group of children all age around 8 & 9. Although they were very interested and enthusiastic about the games, in Sweden children only start learning English at the age of 8, so we had a few difficulties communicating our water wise messages. However, with the help of the amazing Helena as a volunteer translator we were able to get the water saving message across to the children, and even teach them a few useful English words in the process.


As the week went on we were visited by older  age groups which made the language barrier a great deal smaller as their English improved at a rapid rate with age.

 

 

 

By the age of 15, the children were practically fluent, and needed no help understanding our water saving messages.

 

 

In total we were visited by over 250 school children and 100s of delegates who were participating in the conference. We gave out over 760 watery themed top trump packs and met people concerned about water sustainability issues from all corners of the world. In total we estimate we must have talked to and played with over 1000 people in the week.

As well as running the daily eco action playgrounds, we also got involved with other aspects of the conference. On Wednesday we presented at the ‘Young Professionals in Sustainability’ booth. Between Paula (who has been a sustainability professional for over 20 years) and Lydia (very recent graduate) we just about fitted the bill of young and professional! Interestingly the booth was situated opposite  the #siwisofa (Stockholm International Water Institute) where filming was taking place for the World Water Week website.

2015-08-29 15.10.19Paula also presented at a workshop called “Inspire Youth to Become Water and Development Ambassadors” on the Thursday of our trip, where she spoke about our innovative, fun and creative way to inspire environmental behavioural change. We also attended seminars on topics such as the effect of climate change on conflict and migration and also how gender plays a part in access to water and sanitation.

Once the conference was finished we had a day before our return to explore the stunning city of Stockholm. The Museum of Art and Architecture had a fantastic exhibition about sustainability which merged modern, creative design ideas with solutions for sustainability problems in urban areas.  Pictured left is a design of what Regents Canal could look like if it was made into a commuters’ swimming highway!

We had a truly wonderful and watery week in Stockholm (yes, we even swam in the Baltic sea and can confirm that it is definitely cold!) and thoroughly enjoyed the action packed playgrounds with a massive variety of people from all over the world.

We hope to be back to this beautiful place and inspiring conference again next year.

 

 

On a very rainy Friday in July eco action games popped up a playground at the Horniman Museum. We had a wonderful day with a full to bursting playground of families sheltering from the wet weather and learning lots about how to use water wisely (even though it seemed like we had it in abundance that day).

Horniman Museum 2015 – Some rather acrobatic teenagers learning about water saving

Some rather acrobatic teenagers learning about water saving

eco action games, in common with the Horniman, holds sustainability at the heart of everything it does, and in fact our two organisations’ ethos towards the environment are very similar. So, to celebrate the eco actions that the Horniman already undertakes, and also tell you a bit about the sustainable practices of eco action games, here are five sustainable values which both the Horniman and eco action games have in common.

 

 

Reduce CO2

The Horniman museum has achieved some of the highest accolades for museums in sustainability, such as the Green Tourism Award. The museum takes sustainability very seriously and in 2014 they reduced their carbon dioxide and other emissions by 39,200kg CO2e – enough to fill Big Ben five times over.

Two teams put their water saving knowledge against each other in play your eco cards right

Similarly, we here at eco action games aim to not only spread the CO2 saving message but to also commit to it in practice. Therefore, the eco action team always endeavour to travel to playground locations via public transport where humanly possible. One of the most important elements of designing our products is to ensure they are portable and easy to carry on foot. This way we can hugely reduce the carbon footprint of each pop up playground event.

 

Protect Biodiversity

The museum also has sustainability at the heart of its cultural offerings and currently has a Bee Exhibition, which comes from the assertion that ‘every third mouthful of food we eat is dependent upon the unmanaged pollination services of bees’. This series of work highlights the importance of biodiversity upon our food supply, and the uncertain future of our agricultural industries as our bee populations diminish globally at an alarming rate.

Horniman Museum 2015 – Can you spot the badger?

Eco twist. Can you spot the badger?

One of the best things we as individuals can do for biodiversity is to purchase organically sourced products so to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals being released into the ecosystem. Our eco action games bingo set bag and compendium pack bag is made from 100% organic cotton sourced from an ethically managed business in India, and brought over by sea.

 

 

Use Water Wisely

Each year around 187,000 litres of water from the Museum’s aquarium water filters are re-used for watering the Museum’s gardens. This water is a waste product which can’t be re-used in the aquarium due to impurities and the sensitivity of the fish and corals, but it’s perfect for the plants and is a brilliant example of using water efficiently and not wasting it unnecessarily.

Horniman Museum 2015 – Giant eco action trumps challenge

Giant eco action trumps challenge

At eco action games, Paula absolutely boycotts the purchase of bottled water at our playgrounds, so much so that on our snakes and ladders board if you land on the square “bought bottled water instead of drinking tap” you go right back to the beginning of the board.

The eco action team are also very excited to be travelling to the world water conference in Stockholm in August (off-setting our carbon of course) where we will be sharing the water saving message with 3000 other water professionals and enthusiasts from all over the globe.

Sourcing local

Every Saturday the Horniman hosts a locally grown, and locally sold, farmers’ market selling vegetables, meat, fish, bread, flowers, hot food and much more. The Horniman Cafe also serves locally sourced meat and fish from sustainable sources, as well as local beer, gelato and cakes.

Eyes down for eco bingo!

Similarly, here at eco action games we make the special effort to get our products produced from local, independent companies, such as our wonderful printers in Essex who create the games for us. Reducing carbon and other chemical emissions associated with international transportation and often increasing the demand for organic and/or recycled products. Buying locally also means you are investing in the local economy and helping to reduce the ideological disconnect between production and consumption of food. This is a value we feel very strongly about and one we are happy to see the Horniman supporting too.

 

Waste and recycling

Eco snakes and ladders- fun amongst the stuffed animals!

The beautiful gardens are an important part of the Horniman Museum, and, in 2014, 97% of their garden waste was composted to create wonderful compost to spread back on the garden in the next year – a perfect circular economy. Also in 2014 The Horniman used almost 25% less paper and recycled an extra 31 tonnes of their waste output than in the previous year.

At eco action games our twister and snakes and ladders mats are made with 100% recyclable material to enable every part of the products to be used again. We are also very excited to be releasing our brand new waste and recycling themed top trumps and twister in the autumn.

We had a great day at the Horniman. But it’s not just about the message we are sharing with our eager participants, it is also about our own attitudes and behaviours. eco action games and the Horniman are committed to sustainable values and it was fabulous working together to deliver this playground. We hope to be back very soon!

House of Commons’ eco action playground

On the 15th July 2015 eco action games popped up a playground in our most prestigious venue yet, the House of Commons!

In partnership with the Sustainability Hub, and sponsored by Carillion, the event was a great success with a range of distinguished guests including Lords, MPs, Parliamentary Groups, corporate representatives through to student interns.

In the depths of the House of Commons, the venue was fantastic. We were in a beautiful wood panelled dining room which was adorned with food and refreshments. The picture to the left shows the room just as we opened the doors to MPs after Prime Minister’s Questions had concluded on Wednesday lunch time.

 

We invited every MP to our playground by sending them a pack of eco action trumps with an invite, and we saw a steady flow of MPs, all whom were very enthusiastic about eco action games’ approach to sustainability education.

Mark Durkan MP for Foyle (Derry City) was so taken with the games he joined in, pictured here enjoying a game of eco action twist.

 

Graham Evans MP for Weaver Vale tweeted that he was very happy to be supporting eco action games mission to #makesustainabilityfun! Graham loved the eco action trump cards which we had sent him and also took another pack home with him.

 

 

Dr Alan Whitehead MP for Southampton Test and Chairman of The All Parliamentary renewable and sustainable energy group (PRASEG). Pictured here with David Picton, the chief sustainability officer for Carillion and Paula, our Chief Fun Officer (she’s the one in the green T-Shirt).

 

 

Lord Brookman of Ebbw Vale, Wales attended the event and was thrilled to find the company was founded by a fellow South Walian. He remarked that eco action games would be brilliant for his grandchildren and he stayed for the duration of the event. He is pictured here with Johnny, one of our eco action fun and gamers.

 

 

Andrew Gwynne is Member of Parliament for Denton and Reddish and he stayed for a considerable length of time at the event and looked at all the games in detail. He was very enthusiastic about the idea of making sustainability something non-threatening and attractive to children. He told us how fantastic it was that his children now know more about day to day actions which could make a difference to the planet than he did.

 

Tim Loughton MP for East Worthing and Shorehama is a keen supporter of environmental campaigns. For example, he has joined the campaign which aims to end the devastating impact of ghost fishing gear on marine mammals and wildlife and he also supports the Friends of the Earth Campaign to save Britain’s Bees. He also ordered a selection of eco action trump packs from us at the event for his work in his constituency.

 

We were also very excited to launch our brand new on-line game of eco action higher? lower? at the House of Commons event. The game tests people’s individual knowledge of carbon and water savings and players  try to top the leader board in their allotted team. The picture features Paula showing Mark Durkan MP how to play.

Other visitors to the event included representatives from organisations such as the National Energy Action (NEA), and as a result of this event eco action games will be attending and running a pop up playground their annual conference in September, companies such as Argos retail, and from Carillion, our sponsor.

In March, eco action games popped up a playground at the Lib Dem Spring Conference in Liverpool. It was a fantastic weekend for us with an exceptional response from an impressive selection of MPs, Ministers, Councillors, a Lady Mayoress, Lords and Baronesses.

As always, eco action games proved to attract gamers from across the age spectrum.

The Liberal Democrat upcoming manifesto will include plans for five new green laws to protect the environment, and in an effort to highlight their commitment to environmental issues, a Green Zone was added to the exhibition hall at the conference. eco action games helped raise the profile of the Green Zone considerably and brought a huge injection of fun, colour and interaction to the exhibition hall.

 

 

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Nick Clegg was delighted to receive our small eco action compendium set.

We had a variety of esteemed visitors to the playground, the first of which was Nick Clegg himself. Nick was very enthusiastic about our fun approach to environmental education and happily  accepted a compendium pack of games for his children.He commented on the importance of making learning fun and exciting and congratulated us on our work.

 

Ed Davey on the snakes + ladders board.

 

Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander also stopped by for a chat  and loved the eco Snakes & Ladders game we gave him for his kids, as did Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey. Ed spent time looking at each game in detail and, to his relief, did very well on play your eco cards right, proving he knows his stuff when it comes to carbon emissions.

Ed Davey playing his eco actions right.

 

Neil Sherlock, PwC partner and former special adviser to Nick Clegg also visited the playground and tweeted eco action games calling it a “brilliant way to engage people in environmental action”. Neil’s wife, Baroness Kate Parminter was also thoroughly impressed by the playground and visited us twice to learn more about the games.

 

The Mayor of Liverpool inspecting the snakes + ladders board.

Other visitors to the playground included Dan Rogerson, MP and Defra minister, who loved the idea and took some eco action trumps back to Cornwall for his son. The Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Erica Kemp and her husband Councillor Richard Kemp, CBE and Leader of the Liberal Democrat Party Group also joined us at the playground.

The eco action team attended a business lunch with Vince Cable, the Secretary of State for Business, Skills and Innovation, where he answered questions from the floor regarding a variety of issues, including the role of the environment and conservation in business.

Vince Cable on the snakes + ladders board.

Vince later returned the favour and came to visit the eco action playground. He was a great sport and studied the games in great detail, wanting to learn as much as he could about how he could personally save water and reduce his environmental footprint. Vince and all the visitors to the playground showed genuine enthusiams for a game-centric approach and were all acutely aware of the need for effective environmental education throughout society.

We spoke to many people at the conference about eco action games’ latest report, which was launched at the conference. The report was written in conjunction with the University of Manchester, and adds to previous evidence which demonstrates that gamification is a fantastic way to engage people and change their behaviour. The report outlines research taken on a group of students who had participated in the eco action playground and told us how much their behaviour had changed a few months later. We can see from this research that a game-centric approach evoked long lasting behavioural change.

But, maybe not surprisingly, eco twist was more popular with our younger Lib Dem eco warriors!

Generally, the eco action team were overwhelmed by the positive feedback we received, especially from such influential politicians such as Nick Clegg and Ed Davey. Everyone we spoke to not only supported our fun approach to environmental awareness, but realised the necessity of a new way to address such pressing issues and change behaviour. Many visitors to our playground wanted to use the games themselves to teach in their respective schools and companies. You never know, eco action games may be popping up a playground in the House of Lords next!

 

eco-action-app-2

Fun & Games are on the move!

How to encourage eco behavioural change at the touch of a smart phone

Launching in Climate Week 2014, we are ecstatically proud to announce the release of our first mobile App casual game.  A free download is available from iTunes for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.

We have taken the traditional, old-style top trump style game and given it a 21st century make-over, digitising it and adding some fun new features. It’s not only an addictive, simple game to pass the time; it also houses a clever behavioural change tool that encourages players to take action based on the ‘cards’ in the pack, showing them just how much they can save, via their own personal ‘eco action’ dashboard.

It’s simplicity itself to master.  Once you have set up your own eco avatar, you browse the eco actions to see which ones you already do, or would like to adopt.  You then choose them for your own ‘actions dashboard’ and marvel at all the energy, carbon emissions, resources and money you will save!

You then take on one of three online opponents in a choice of two trump style games. After challenging them to ‘eco duels’ you can check how you rate on the Leaderboard.

Founder and CFO (Chief Fun Officer) of eco action games, Dr Paula Owen, says: “People have been asking us for some time when are we going to digitise our games, well now we have!  It will expand the reach of our games immensely, and we are very excited to get feedback from our players on how they get on trying to beat their online opponents.

She goes on to say: “Our objective is to keep the game completely free to use, with absolutely no In-App Purchases which we believe to be a real downside to online gaming. We want to unlock more eco themed packs, and continue the journey we are taking our players on.  To achieve this we are looking for sponsors to help us develop new themed packs and to expand to Android and Windows smart phones. Sponsors will get their logo on the ‘packs’ and on the back of every ‘card’.  They will also get the warm glow that comes of being part of a new, socially & environmentally beneficial new initiative.”

New eco themed packs will include: water saving, free behavioural actions, energy saving, waste & recycling, office related actions and even an eco-parenting theme.

fun CAN save the planet!

Launching today, a report into the findings of a ground-breaking research study that has proved we really can play our way to a more sustainable future. Our ‘eco gamers’ have already saved half a tonne of carbon emissions each with another half tonne of savings planned.

Dr Paula Owen, a GLA/ London Sustainable Development Commission London Leader 2012/13, has today launched her findings from a year’s worth of research into a novel, fun approach to getting people engaged in environmental actions.

Throughout the year Paula and her team have been running ‘eco fun & games’ events for hundreds of people in venues as varied as the Science Museum, Natural History Museum, the WI, Age UK care homes, schools, universities, the London Fire Brigade and at festivals, to test out the theory that we can persuade people to living more sustainably through fun.

The results are very encouraging. Over half, 51% of all participants stated they were going to adopt new actions as a result of attending the event and the typical number of new actions pledged was three. Over 90% of all attendees enjoyed the events and the games they played. Two thirds learnt something new and useful about environmental actions they could adopt that they would take back to their homes and offices. In the follow-up surveys, undertaken some months after the events, all respondents reported they had already taken action and that the average number had increased to four, with another two in the planning.

On average, each respondent had saved around half a tonne of carbon emissions through the actions they had already taken. If they went on to complete their extra planned actions, the average saving by each attendee would be over one tonne of carbon dioxide each year.  If every household in the land became ‘eco gamers’ the collective saving could top 65 million tonnes of carbon emissions every year.

Paula said “We have to move away from the ‘doom & gloom’, misery messaging communication style that has dogged the environmental movement in the past.  We have patently failed to engage and win the hearts and minds of the general population.

If we are to have any chance to stop some of the worst excesses of climatic change over this century we need everyone to play their part, however small that part may be. Our new approach to communication and engagement, using the medium of social games and fun instead of finger-wagging and guilt-tripping, is proving itself to be a powerful tool in the armoury of environmental educators.”

LSDC Commission Ed Gillespie said the Fun and Games to Save the Planet research was a fun way of engaging people in serious issues such as climate change.

He said: “Games don’t just make learning fun; they are often very effective ways of subtly changing attitudes and behaviours.

Play is, has and always will be part of human nature. If London is to retain its position as one of the greenest capital cities in the world what better way to do it than by enjoying ourselves at the same time.”

Another night at the Museum

Last week we were invited back to the Science Museum to take part in their  ‘Lates’ night. As the theme this month was climate science and what could be done to prevent climate change, the team at the  Museum though our educational eco games would fit in perfectly.

So we were given the appropriate title of ‘the Climate Playground’ and gallery space to transform into our signature ‘fun & games’ playroom.

These events are huge and take over the whole Museum, they usually get 3500 to 5000 visitors, so we had to be ready for anything – and we were!

We were deluged by people visiting our playground.  We estimated around 200 people played our games over the evening. We managed to get through a dozen games of eco action bingo and play your eco cards right each in three hours.  The eco Snakes & Ladders board entertained dozens of human counters, and the Food Footprint game was again very popular.

We were also successful in getting people to fill in the research questionnaire. We received 49 responses, around a quarter of our audience. So, what were the ‘scores on the doors’ in terms of the impactfulness of the night’s activities?

100% agreed or strongly agreed that they enjoyed the event, and that they enjoyed the game(s) they played. So a full house there, no killjoys in the house!

84% agreed or strongly agreed they enjoyed trying to win, and 80% of them enjoyed, and played, (non-sporting) games at least occasionally – so generally a competitive, playful bunch.  But also 86% of them agreed that they enjoyed the educational aspect too – so it was not all about the winning!

63% of respondents learnt something new about environmental action that they didn’t already know, with only 16% stating they didn’t learn anything new. 57% agreed they had learnt useful new information that could help them take action.

65% agreed they felt they could now take extra actions at home and/or work to help them become more environmentally friendly. With 51% saying they would take action as a result of what they had learnt on the evening.  Around a third of the respondents remained ‘neutral’ on whether or not they were thinking of taking any action.

10% of people felt they had not been influenced to take any actions at all, which shows you can’t win them all. But 53% agreed they had been influenced to make changes to their everyday lives.

So, of the people who said they were influenced into taking action, what types of actions were popular?

Top of the score board were the simple behavioural actions:

Not overfilling kettle / lids on pans / recycling more/ composting/ turning off standby/ switching lgihts off when not needed/ being more water efficient/ shorter showers etc.

At this event, the transport actions – join car club / use public transport more / walk or cycle for shorter journeys were more popular than in our earlier event.

In total 234 actions were chosen as new extra actions people were considering doing as a result of what they had learnt on the night. And although a number of these were simple, easy, behavioural actions, the total carbon saved (for the actions were could easily quantify) for the night amounted to an impressive 33 tonnes of CO2 per annum. Not bad for a night’s work!

A sample of the typical comments from respondents :

“Excellent way of getting people talking about climate change”

“Fab, would like to see this at festivals”

“Good fun! It’s good to make being eco frendly more fun”

We are going to have a bit of a rest now as we have done three major events – two at the Science Museum and one at the Natural History Museum – in six weeks.  But we are keen to hear from organisations, community groups and other groups that come together for a social purpose, as we would like to take this research into other socio-demographic groups to see how well it works.

Please get in touch if you are interested in hosting a climate playground.