The Sustainable Lifestyles Game (SLG) is a learning & doing experience, and team competition. The first instantiation, called the Carbon Cut Challenge, is designed to motivate and reward actions that reduce carbon emissions (CO2e) while strengthening wellbeing. The long-term goal is to provide a sustainable path for individuals and groups to attain flourishing carbon neutral lifestyles.
The Carbon Cut Challenge pilot season kicks off in January and runs thru December 2017. It’s a long season because real lifestyle change takes time to plan, budget (sometimes) and implement. Similarly, seeing the results of those actions – in terms of a smaller footprint and increased wellness – takes time. Measurement is important in games. A scoreboard is the feedback mechanism which enables players to see their team’s monthly point totals and relative standing. This visual cue will inspire each player’s best efforts. While the team’s aggregate score is publicly visible, each individual player’s results remain private. Playing the game enables one to thoughtfully make a series of lifestyle changes, then watch their emissions numbers steadily decrease over time. Importantly, players are recognized for making the effort. This effort, which is ultimately aimed at minimizing the loss of life also, in-turn, contributes to each player’s life meaning and thereby increases their wellbeing.
Prior to the start, players attain an estimate of their prior year carbon footprint. They’ll also see how it compares to those with similar incomes in their neighborhood. This information — a tremendous body of research by the Renewable & Appropriate Energy Laboratory at the University of California, Berkley – is made available through their Cool Climate Carbon Calculator. This tool is also used within the game to make more accurate monthly measurements and for practicing mindfulness. The second pre-game measurement involves each player’s current level of wellbeing. The PERMA model for wellbeing is used to assess everyone’s pre- and post-game level of wellbeing. PERMA is an acronym that stands for Positive emotion, Engagement, Relationships, Meaning, and Accomplishment. (More information about PERMA can be found on the Why Play? and FAQ pages.) The graph to the side shows two measures of the PERMA attributes – the Average Level (orange) and Michael Midghall’s individual levels (blue). The measurement tools are essential for the determination of the game’s effectiveness in achieving real world results.
The Sustainable Lifestyles Game stresses “friendly” competition because the ultimate goal is to reduce CO2e emissions and increase wellbeing at the aggregate levels. The game methodology is a fun way to achieve a very serious goal. It’s also an effective way because it brings focus and measurement into our efforts. Most importantly, the game forces us to act. We want to do our best for ourselves and, especially, our teammates. By forcing us to make proactive decisions and then act in positive ways, with support from others, we can best implement the solution to the problem we (the developed world) unknowingly created and still disproportionately contributes to. Action, right now, is necessary for the effective reduction and elimination of the excessive greenhouse gas emissions that are built into our habits, our conditioned lifestyles.
For the above reasons, I believe the subtitle to Jane McGonigal’s groundbreaking book “REALITY IS BROKEN” so aptly describes this effort. “Why Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change the World” is the intention of the Sustainable Lifestyles Game. By changing our lifestyles, to align with the fixed resources provided by planet Earth and to be in accordance with equanimity for all, we feel better inside. We achieve calmer minds, more peaceful hearts – the inner signs of enhanced wellbeing – and in accomplishing this, we also change the outer world for the better, through our interactions with all, for all.