Do we play games to raise awareness about the circular economy?

Beehive Blue
4 min readApr 29, 2024

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The use of serious games and video games is a powerful strategy to achieve learning and awareness-raising objectives in various fields, including the circular economy.

It is not a new concept, and we can find some cases of video games created or that can be adapted and applied in part to work on the concept of circular economy. A quick review on the reference platforms (Steam, Epic Games Store and other platforms) these games that illustrate the possibilities are:

“Gera and the 7 Islands”: this game is set in an archipelago where each island represents one of the “R’s” of the circular economy. The aim is to generate environmental responsibility and raise awareness of the importance of reusing and recycling.

“Circular Economy — Trivia: This educational game combines the excitement of play with the power of interactive learning. You can explore concepts related to the circular economy while playing the game.

“Eco”: Although not specifically designed for the circular economy, you can explore sustainability and resource management in a virtual world, “Eco” is a simulation game where players must balance growth, technology and sustainability.

“Cities: Skylines “: Although not specific to the circular economy, it allows you to make decisions related to infrastructure and sustainability in a simulated city.

“Recycle: Garbage Truck Simulator: Although not a role-playing game, it offers a perspective on waste management and the importance of recycling. Players take on the role of a rubbish truck driver.

“Factorio”: Focused on automation and production optimisation, it offers lessons on efficiency and responsible use of resources.

“Recycle: Garbage Truck Simulator”: Although not a role-playing game, it provides a perspective on waste management and the importance of recycling.

These video games not only entertain, but also educate and promote values related to sustainability and awareness of the circular economy.

If humans could start an activity on a new planet, how should we learn about the circular economy? For it is an essential strategy for sustainability, aiming to reduce both material input and virgin waste production. Rather than following a linear model, the circular economy seeks to close the economic and ecological “loops” or flows of resources. Why is this system so important for our survival on this new planet?

To answer this question requires several answers from all that we need to learn:

- Responsible Use of Resources: The circular economy aims to use responsibly, repair and reuse to protect the planet. By keeping materials and products in the economy for longer, waste generation is reduced.

- Sustainability: The circular economy is interlinked with sustainability. It seeks to balance production and consumption, switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy and foster diversity as a resilience feature in production systems.

- Care for the environment, it is about reducing gas emissions, the waste generated, the use of raw materials. In a new planet, we will also have to take care of the environment in order to avoid the problems we have on Earth with climate change, which is accelerating due to the effect of human activity.

Therefore, we propose that, in order to raise awareness about the circular economy, a role-playing game is a very powerful tool. We imagine a game set on this new planet, where resources must be used in a sustainable way. Players take on different roles involved in the circular economy. In this context, we ask why the video game is effective:

1. Hands-on experience: Players interact directly with circular economy concepts by making decisions in the game. This allows them to better understand the real principles and challenges.

2. Active Learning: Through role-playing, players learn about resource management, reuse and sustainable decision-making. It is more effective than simply reading about it.

3. Immersion and Empathy: The game immerses players in a world where they must consider the consequences of their actions. This fosters empathy towards environmental issues and the importance of the circular economy.

4. Motivation and Fun: Game elements are always engaging and motivating. By combining fun with learning, greater information retention and awareness is achieved.

5. Collaboration and Social Learning: we seek to foster collaboration between players. This can lead to discussions, exchange of ideas and collective learning. In addition, games can connect to online communities where players share strategies and knowledge.

6. Practical Application of Concepts: the proposal should allow players to apply theoretical concepts in practical contexts. For example, by managing resources in the game, players internalise the principles of the circular economy and try to transfer that knowledge to real-world situations.

With these concepts, we proposed the creation of a role-playing game to work on knowledge and awareness of the circular economy. Thus arises the HEROES of Circular Economy project, an Erasmus+ KA2 project where we will learn about circular economy by playing.

Let’s play to learn and change the world!

https://youtu.be/SlYSHi2UMlM

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