Let’s play: My Waste, My Responsibility

By Celeste Teo

Congratulations! After reading this article, you will be awarded a prize.

If this make-believe reward made you a little excited, you will have understood one of the many aspects of gamification – the utilization of game design elements, such as challenges, leaderboards or virtual currency, for a non-game setting to achieve a specific goal. Last year, WISE presented our first-ever conference paper titled ‘A review of the applicability of gamification and game-based learning (GBL) to improve household level waste management practices among schoolchildren’. The aim of this conference paper was to examine the potential of gamification to improve waste management practices among schoolchildren. Through a narrative review of 25 papers on gamification and game-based learning for waste management and for schoolchildren, Malida, Bella and Yoke with inputs from Bima and Julivius, collaborated remotely on the paper to study the potential of game-based interventions as a behaviour change tool.

Malida presenting our paper at the first CSID AUN-SCUD International Conference on Sustainable Infrastructure and Urban Development (CAIC-SIUD) 2018

Through experiments and prototype testing, researchers have found that gamification can promote aspects of waste management in steering people towards more ecologically-friendly lifestyle choices or improving waste management practices, as well as heighten the awareness and understanding of environmental issues. Specifically for schoolchildren, gamification can aid in the learning process, increasing motivation and visual expression in learning a subject with abstract theoretical concepts, in addition to effectiveness of learning. It is also imperative for the design and utilisation of gamification to be adapted to pique the interest of the young. Badges and leaderboards have a more positive influence on students as compared to points, avatars, levels, and virtual goods, and a friendly and interesting game interface can enhance students’ self-efficacy. An effective game design requires a comprehensive understanding and knowledge of social learning theory, behavioural analysis, and gamification principles. Offline game-based approaches, such as educational board games, through perceived fun, can lead to individuals initiating and sustaining learning without adults present to manage the game. However, the limitations are that not all institutions have adequate resources to adopt such infrastructure.

Unfortunately, the effectiveness of GBL and gamification to mitigate the waste management issues with schoolchildren has not been well-described in literature. Our team realised that articles on these games have only evaluated the feasibility and immediate outcomes. There were no examples that assessed the long-term impact the game has on knowledge, attitudes or practices.

Nevertheless, from successful applications such as Recyclebank, which rewards users points for recycling, there is still prospect for GBL and gamification to address waste management issues.To embark on fulfilling the potential of GBL and gamification, WISE has been working on the idea of GWASH (Gamify WASH) – an initiative that makes behaviour change on water, sanitation, hygiene and waste issues more effective through engaging and enjoyable activities. We hope to pilot gamification approaches in schools in Indonesia, Cambodia and/or Singapore, with the hope of increasing the effectiveness of conventional behaviour change approaches.

As more and more companies are turning to gamification to get consumers hooked on their products and services, perhaps it is time for us to use it to educate and inculcate healthy behaviour in children from a young age. WISE sincerely hopes this study will contribute to the body of knowledge in the environmental sector on gamification as an innovative process for improving household-level waste management behaviour amongst schoolchildren.

The paper can also be found in the International Journal of Technology, Volume 9, Issue 7 (DOI: 10.14716/ijtech.v9i7.2644).

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