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How to save the planet with a board game that aims to destroy the Earth?

KILL THE PLANET YEAH!—With an unusual title and a fresh impetus a course was launched in the framework of the Moholy-Nagy University of Art’s course week. Is it possible to ease climate anxiety with humor and playfulness or to educate future designers to be eco-conscious? We asked Boglárka Jakabfi-Kovács and Janka Juhász, Ph.D. students at MOME, and some of the students attending their course about the results of the initiative.

Boglárka Jakabfi-Kovács and Janka Juhász graduated as architects from the Moholy-Nagy University of Art. Since 2020 they have been researching the design aspects of global warming and possible answers to the climate crisis at the MOME’s Doctoral School. While Boglárka focuses on the deeper understanding of theoretical concepts, Janka is mainly interested in action-oriented practices. This way they complement each other perfectly.

“The acceleration of the processes affecting our environment and the climate makes it necessary to prepare for a scenario where we fail to meet the maximum warming of 1.5 degrees Celsius by the end of the century as determined in the Paris Agreement. We are looking at solutions that reflect the period beyond,” they say.

They are designing a board game that would help sensitize designers and make them aware that the life cycle of a product is determined on the drawing board. This is exactly why it is important to understand the ecological, economic, and social processes of the design and manufacturing of the product as early as possible. The game for design education is still being developed, the KILL THE PLANET YEAH! course serves as a preliminary study.

This course is for you if you care about what you, as a designer do with our environment and about what you could do. It is also for you if you are fed up with the concept of sustainability being all over the news. It is for you if you think this whole global climate change thing is nonsense. You can spend a week with us even if you let us know in advance that you won’t be asking for a straw, and even if you only remember after you’ve already dug up the individually packaged pieces from the bottom of the paper bag that you shouldn’t actually have done it. You won’t be disappointed either if your biggest dream is to have a tuned Hummer polished with baby pandas and you take sugar in your Kopi Luwak because at the end of the day yours can be the biggest ecological footprint!—the course’s description says. 

I have taken game design course before but board games are a completely different field. The title of the course immediately caught my attention. It sounded much more exciting than the usual courses a university student encounters when registering for the subjects.says Ambrus Gergely, student in the in Faculty of Design.

Gamification, sense of humor, and irony were the tools the students used to address climate anxiety and to raise awareness. They have designed a board game where the winner will be the one who kills the planet the fastest.

“We received a lot of help from the invited lecturers and course supervisors both in the design process and in terms of theoretical questions related to the climate crisis and sustainability. One would not think how many obstacles and problems can arise when designing a board game,” says Lenke Lamm, graphic design student, who plans to further develop the board game with Ambrus after the course.

Articles on environment protection, movies, podcasts and statistics shared with the students helped them in the preparation process and they could also learn from the presentations of Tamás Marosvári, board game designer, Péter Vígh, editor-in-chief of Másfélfok.hu and Krisztina Maróy, editor-in-chief of Glamour. Students of different faculties formed three teams who then created the pilot versions of three play & learn games by the end of the week.

ELIXIR OF LIFE

The recipe for eternal life is generally known. The components, however, severely damage our planet. It is becoming increasingly difficult to get the ingredients, as we are cutting off the branch we are sitting on. By the time we prepare the elixir, we will have destroyed the Earth. Strategic game.

Designers: Ambrus Gergely, Kinga Klára Langer, Hanna Kopacz, Lenke Lamm


MULTINATIONAL CORPORATIONS

“Step into the shoes of a multinational company and develop a strategy for the most efficient way of making a profit. Due to the dwindling resources, you need to be more efficient than the competing companies so that you can complete as many projects as possible and enjoy the destruction of the Earth in the greatest luxury.” Strategic game.

Designers: András Máté, Dániel Máth, Doroti Szarvas, Zoe Vági


CHIHUAHUA INVASION!

The special needs of the diesel-powered robotic chihuahuas can only be met at the cost of destroying the Earth. Acquiring an orangutan fur coat, a laser eye, a palm plantation, and other polluting raw materials all set off a massive chain reaction that depletes the earth’s surface. “The winner will be the one who satisfies the most chihuahua demands. And what about the Earth being destroyed in the process? Well. That is only a collateral damage. The chihuahuas are happy after all.” Party and memory game.

Designers: Alíz Bárczy, Virág Oszkai, Balázs Szigligeti, László Piskóti

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