Balancing Act: Enabling Public Engagement with Sustainability Issues through a Multi-touch Tabletop Collaborative Game
Despite a long history of using participatory methods to enable public engagement with issues of societal importance, interactive displays have only recently been explored for this purpose. In this paper, we evaluate a tabletop game called Futura, which was designed to engage the public with issues of sustainability. Our design is grounded in prior research on public displays, serious games, and computer supported collaborative learning. We suggest that a role-based, persistent simulation style game implemented on a multi-touch tabletop affords unique opportunities for a walk-up-and-play style of public engagement. We report on a survey-based field study with 90 participants at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics (Canada). The study demonstrated that small groups of people can be immediately engaged, participate collaboratively, and can master basic awareness outcomes around sustainability issues. However, it is difficult to design feedback that disambiguates between individual and group actions, and shows the temporal trajectory of activity.