AirQuest: A Civic Action Game
Posted by socialapplabmember
Each human being should be able to step outside, take a deep breath of fresh air and take on their day. After all, clean air should be an undeniable right for all. Unfortunately, this is not the reality of our world. Rather, school children in Fresno find themselves peeking out classroom windows to check the color of the air quality flags- dreading the yellow and red flags and longing for a glimpse of the green. On the red flag days, all children are required to spend recess inside and kids with Asthma are always the ones to blame. What if- through the power of game play- we could shift the focus from this individual problem- to a collective problem, in which we all work together to create much necessary change?
AirQuest’s objective is to make scientific data accessible and playable to all. At the Social Apps Lab, we are engaging players in a game about pollutants transmitting Asthma triggers through the air. The main character, Kean, is a 14 year-old high school student with Asthma, who feels weak and isolated as a result of his condition. As the game progresses, he finds friends, a patient support group, and ultimately a voice with which to call for ecological justice in San Joaquin Valley. To increase his power, he learns to fight, to decode climate maps, and to get around the Valley on a bike- even when air quality is low. The game is a response to the problem that Asthma is often cast as a negative, individual experience rather than an extreme and early response to a crisis that affects us all. The objective of the game is to shift player’s reasoning from air quality as a problem for someone else, to air quality as an immediate and concrete issue for all. Careful pre-play and post-play tests among our focus groups will show us if we have had the desired impact. Integrating design feedback from users will help us optimize the game for its release on Android platform tablets on the Android Market in July of 2012. AirQuest is not an merely an action game, it is a civic action game. After validation of our approach in San Joaquin Valley, we will develop a Version 2.0 expanded release of the game which includes Oakland, Los Angeles, and Riverside as additional playable locations.
Through shifting this individual perception of asthma to a collective one, the game creates a channel in which all the separate voices can come together to create change for a healthier life and a healthier world.
Read more about this project and a couple others that we have in the works!