By Charlene LeBleu, FASLA
Visitors to Auburn University will now have an opportunity to experience campus green infrastructure using two newly designed interactive board games. The board games, AubieGo and GI Builder were created by Landscape Architecture graduate students for the Office of Sustainability to invite visitors, students, faculty, and beyond to learn about the green infrastructure stormwater control measures that are integrated into the campus landscape. The games provide a novel way to introduce and communicate the benefits of campus green infrastructure practices to both young and old.
The graduate students are members of the LAND 7900 Interpretive Design—Redesigning the Visitor Experience class, a three (3) hour directed elective taught by Charlene M. LeBleu, FASLA, Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture. “I was asked by the Office of Sustainability and Campus Stormwater Committee to have my students create a brochure for a campus green infrastructure tour,” said LeBleu. “We did design a brochure, but I wanted my students to reimagine green infrastructure education in a different way. Designing and crafting a board game, the playing pieces, and a container to hold all pieces provided a fun and interesting creative challenge!”
Game Research & Evaluation
Graduate student game designers researched several popular board games prior to initiating design. Furthermore, each phase of the green infrastructure games underwent 30+ iterations of game play. Each game was evaluated on clarity of board, bits and rules; flow; strategy verses luck, length, theme & mechanics integration, and tension verses fun. The game crafters observed over 30+ hours of test game play, interviewed players and made improvements to their games along the way.
Created by Rachel Hamrick, Student ASLA, Yuzhou Jin, Rui Wang, Student ASLA & Xueting Zhou, Student ASLA, AubieGo is a board game that invites its players to build green infrastructure (GI) on the Auburn University Auburn, AL, campus! Players advance around the board (campus) by rolling a traditional dice. The first person to accumulate 10 water droplets (points) wins the game!
Players learn about, and build, green infrastructure stormwater control measures at 10 Auburn University campus sites. These include: Arboretum (permeable paving), Gorrie Building (bioswale), Nursing Building (green roof), Dudley Hall (rain garden), Wellness Kitchen (stream restoration) and more! The game is for ages 8 years old and up, can be played by 4 to 6 players, and takes about an hour to play. To begin, each player receives a GI Guide Card which defines each type of GI, and why it is important. The GI Guide Card also states what Resource Cards you will need to collect, and how many water droplets (points) you will earn by building each type of GI. There are 5 different types of resources cards—gravel, soil, pipe, shovel, and plant. Players are also allowed to trade cards to accumulate the correct combination of resources. To make the game interesting, you must take an “Aubie Card” if you land on an “Aubie Square.” Aubie Cards hold good news and bad news such as: “Green infrastructure helps the whole city by preventing erosion, providing habitat, cleaning runoff, and increasing beauty. The mayor recognizes your hard work! Collect a resource card from each player! OR….“Severe drought spreads across the southeastern USA, choose one resource card to return!” https://youtu.be/tNmetJ6KqCU
GI Builder challenges players race to build green infrastructure (GI) Labs on the Auburn University campus. The game is for ages 8 years old and up, and can be played by 4 to 6 players. Players advance around the board by rolling 2 dice: a traditional dice and a special “material” dice, to build 11 GI Labs as you travel across the board.
The player who installs all GI Labs and reaches the campus Arboretum first is the winner! The game takes about an hour to play. Created by Jaspuneet Kaur, Radhika Shenoy, Student ASLA, Yuanyuan Gao, Student ASLA, & Looja Shakya, Student ASLA, the educational goal of the game is to teach the players about green infrastructure, and why we need green infrastructure on our college campus. The instructions of the game are designed to provide a brief overview of GI and its benefits. To build a GI Lab, players collect the appropriate materials indicated on the board to restore a stream, install porous paving, build bioretention and/or rain gardens and install green roofs. To add spice to the game, AU Cards hold both good news and bad news such as: “You are Aubie’s favorite and he wants you to draw any one type of supply card from all players!” AU Cards can also bring bad news such as: “TORNADO! A tornado warning has been issued and you need to return all brick and gravel supply cards to the GI Manager.” https://youtu.be/MX5xDMFmxls
Both games are fun, fast, and furiously engage players in a race to the finish! These games were created for the Auburn University Office of Sustainability to use in stormwater education of students, faculty, campus visitors, and more, on the benefits of treating stormwater with green infrastructure, and the beauty of integrating green infrastructure into the campus landscape. AubieGo! and GI Builder are an engaging educational resources for Auburn University stormwater education and outreach!
Charlene LeBleu, FASLA, AICP, is an Associate Professor of Landscape Architecture at Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama. She is a Fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects (FASLA), and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).
Good article and great, creative project for a grad studio! Thanks Charlene for sharing this with us.
Point for discussion-
Do these games reinforce the obsession with acquiring “points” for environmental stewardship (fill in words sustainability or resilience if younger than 35)? Today’s culture is fascinated with getting points. Frequent flyer points, points for purchasing on your credit card, Hilton Honor points, not to mention LEED and SITES points. Integrating green Infrastructure (GI) into the built environment is more than a trend or a fad, it is the environmentally responsible thing to do. Points (insert awards, accolades, or credentials) can’t be the only incentive, and design integration and fit must still be the ultimate challenge.