Björn Berg Marklund


University of Skövde

Raising Issues of Ecological Sustainability through Game Design - by Björn Berg Marklund & Rebecca Romin

Raising Issues of Ecological Sustainability through Game Design - by Björn Berg Marklund & Rebecca Romin


Björn has been working with games, in particular educational games, since 2010, both as a developer and as a researcher. In his thesis, Unpacking Digital Game-Based Learning, he studied how developers, teachers, and students approach and experience the development and use of educational games, and focused on establishing a pragmatic overview of what it actually takes to create something as technologically advanced as a digital game, make it engaging while still representing educational subject matters accurately, and also implementing it and making it work in a classroom environment. In his work, he emphasizes the importance of employing a broad systems-oriented perspective when thinking about serious games, in order to ensure that a created game isn’t just engaging and hypothetically educational, but also efficient, reliable, and realistically useable so that it actually can make a positive impact in its intended context of use and reach its target audience.

In this talk, Rebecca and Björn will talk about the challenges involved in translating a serious, complex, and frustrating subject – which also seldom has direct easy answers and solutions – to an engaging game experience. Throughout 2019, they have been part of a team of developers who have collaborated with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences to create the game prototype 2030: Klimat-spelet. 2030 is a game for younger audiences, and it intends to introduce them to the deeply complex issues of food production, food consumption, and its effects to the climate. Food production and climate change can be daunting and disheartening to tackle, enough so that it can demotivate people and keep them from actively engaging in pursuing more knowledge and participating in discussions regarding the topic. One of the main goals of the game is to provide a more playful and manageable way to start dealing with, and experiencing, different aspects of the topic. During the project, Rebecca and Björn has worked to find ways in which this issue can be presented in a way that doesn’t misrepresent the subject, and that challenges its players to start asking questions rather than taking everything they see at face value.

In short, this talk is a combination of the lessons we’ve learned when it comes to Game-Based Learning design, game development processes, requirement analysis, and real-world subject matter representations. We will also share experiences of how to test these types of games with younger audiences.