AirQuest: A Civic Action Game


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!

Meet The AirQuest Team!


Tic-Toc-Tiles Receives Great Review from iAutism

Tic-Toc-Tiles has earned the praise of iAutism, a blog dedicated towards informing the public about technologies for people with ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorders) and other special needs. The reviewers were pleasantly surprised by the combination of fun and functionality that our application offers. Hopefully, with the publicity we have gain from being featured on the blog we will reach more people who can benefit from the use of our application.

Check out the review at!

We Are Participating in the 2012 Digital Media and Learning Conference!

The Social Apps Lab is a proud participant of the 2012 Digital Media and Learning Conference!

After an especially competitive selection process, our proposal had been selected to be part of the Conference, taking place in San Francisco from March 1st – March 3rd, 2012, 2:30-4:00 in Filmore (Theater 45)!

Come see how we will Re-Image the Media for Learning!

Congratulations Team!


December 8th – The Digital We: Apps for Citizenship, Health, and City Life from the Social Apps Lab

The Digital We at the Social Apps Lab

WHEN: 9:30 – 17:30 on Thursday, 8 December 2011

WHERE: Sutardja Dai Hall, UC Berkeley  (Google map)

The Social Apps Lab at CITRIS Berkeley presents our biggest 2011 event – The Digital We: Apps for Citizenship, Health, and City Life!

The Social Apps Lab focuses on creating mobile applications that use elements of gameplay to motivate citizen learning, civic action, and crowdsourced solutions for social problems. The Digital We examines the premises, prospects, and projects of this kind of social media production through a day of workshops and public discussions. The directors of the Social Apps Lab will present several new projects, including CitySandbox, DengueTorpedo, Pathways, and BingoType.  Please register for the event here.

Join us for –

Workshops with presentations from:

• Chris Kelty – UC Los Angeles, Department of Information Studies

• Kacper Poblocki – University of Poznan, Department of Anthropology

• Warren Sack – UC Santa Cruz, Program of Digital Arts and New Media

• Artur Celinski – Res Publica, Warsaw • Marina Gorbis – Institute for the Future, Palo Alto

• Heather Horst – UC Irvine, Digital Media and Learning Research Hub

Roundtable Discussion about Interdisciplinary Initiatives and University-City Projects with:

• Paul Wright – UC Berkeley, Director of CITRIS

• Carla Hesse – UC Berkeley, Dean of Social Sciences

• Anthony Cascardi – UC Berkeley, Dean of Arts and Humanities

• Gordon Wozniak – City of Berkeley Councilmember

Demo of Recent Projects at the Social Apps Lab:

• James Holston, Co-Director

• Greg Niemeyer, Co-Director

• URAP Students at the Social Apps Lab

And Dialogues with:

• Artur Celinski – Res Publica, Warsaw

• Ken Goldberg – UC Berkeley, Dept of Industrial Engineering and Operations Research

• Marina Gorbis – Institute for the Future, Palo Alto

• Heather Horst – UC Irvine, Digital Media and Learning Research Hub

• Josefina Coloma – Sustainable Science Institute & UC Berkeley School of Public Health

• Terry Deacon – UC Berkeley, Department of Anthropology

• Faraz Farzin – Stanford, Department of Psychology

• Kacper Poblocki – University of Poznan, Department of Anthropology

• Bill Satariano – UC Berkeley School of Public Health

Click here for a complete program.

Please register for the event here.

Bingowalk Play-test

Today we play-tested Bingowalk with Professor Satariano, professor of Public Health at the University of California, Berkeley and a few students from the Social Apps Lab. Professor Satariano described the game as being a lot of fun, and he believes it can have positive impact for the senior population we are targeting with Bingowalk. When asked if he thought Bingowalk was feasilble, he said “Oh, absolutely!” Professor Satariano will be collaborating with the Social Apps Lab to apply for a grant that will fund the further development of the game.

Players must walk around the city to reveal virtual bingo tiles. The games uses GPS to determine which tile the player has walked onto. To win, players must walk onto and reveal five tiles with numbers that match the numbers which have been randomly called by the game system.

Bingowalk is a fun way of engaging teams of players in long walks along novel paths and supports cognition through way-finding tasks and collective decision-making. Mild competition between teams increases replay value.

Announcement: Equimano 1.1 Coming to the App Store in a Week!

The new and improved Equimano 1.1 is now on the App Store! It is called Tic Toc Tiles.

Excited?  So are we! New in this version: Music by Norman Cahn, a very brainy level 4, better scoring and custom logins. Thanks to Li Chen and Jan Hua for developing and testing. Now on to clinical validation!



Social Apps Lab is Going to the Swiss Museum of Games!

Check it out!  We are presenting Pathways / Equimano at this show!  Good luck to Ann!

AirQuest Asthma Team!

The Social Apps Lab is developing a web-phone-based game which challenges residents to identify sources of asthma-inducing pollution. It targets industrial pollution in Oakland and agricultural pollution in the Central Valley. The Pwning Asthma team hopes to give community members a tool, which will allow them to take their health into their own hands.

Read more about this project and a couple others that we have in the works!

Welcome 2011 Social Apps Lab Team!

Welcome Members (from left to right): Hugh Oh, Benson Ma, Lichen Han, Courtney Chan, Vamsi Chitters, Kevin Gong, Stephanie Chou, Ian Norris, Terri Yeh, Prof. Holston, Zach Burggraf, Prof. Niemeyer, Jacky Wu, Tina Sullivan, Hui Peng Hu, Winny Huang, Katie Fleming. Not Pictured: Spreeha Debchaudhury, Michael Mui, Jan Hua

Experiencing technical difficulties... (Photo Credit: Jay Kim)

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