Playing for Climate Change: The Design and Development of a Game Prototype to Promote Scientific Literacy

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Sandra Kim Law
Michele Jacobsen


This design case describes the work involved in developing a digital game-based learning environment, work that was part of a PhD research project. The designer was involved in all aspects of the project: conducting research into content that was included in the game, exploring the gaming platform (Second Life), adapting scientific literature for use in the game, consulting with science instructors, building the gaming environment, and writing scripts for objects in the environment. The gaming environment was a fictional town site called Budworm. The game was designed to promote scientific literacy in first and second year science undergraduate students through collaborative work on an open-ended problem related to the management of water resources in a region of western Canada subject to extremes in water availability. One of the design goals was to model the kind of environment that scientists encounter while they formulate research questions, a complex environment that involves collaboration with colleagues, creativity and a willingness to explore. Instructional experts in three scientific fields (biology, chemistry, and geosciences) were consulted during the course of this design, as was an expert in instructional design. The final product was the game and a set of game design principles that were informed by the literature on educational gaming and consultations with the instructional experts.


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How to Cite
Law, S. K., & Jacobsen, M. (2015). Playing for Climate Change: The Design and Development of a Game Prototype to Promote Scientific Literacy. International Journal of Designs for Learning, 6(1).
Author Biographies

Sandra Kim Law, Athabasca University

Sandra K. Law received her PhD in Educational Technology from the University of Calgary in the fall of 2011. She is currently a Learning Designer with Athabasca University where she works on course design and special projects in online mathematical instruction, representation of mathematical expressions in the online environment, design and use of open educational resources and implementation of accessibility and inclusive design.

Michele Jacobsen, University of Calgary

Dr. Jacobsen is Associate Dean and Professor of the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary. Over the past 20 years she has taught undergraduate and graduate students in educational technology, classroom measurement and teacher preparation. Michele’s current research projects include investigating early learning with technology, the link between technology and high school success, inquiry-based learning and technology integration.