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Designing the Green Transition: Gamifying the historic copperworks for better environmental outcomes

Researchers at Swansea University came together with pupils from Pentrehafod School to design a game that explored the development of the copper working industry in South Wales and the impacts it had on health and the environment.
Screen shot from Copperworks game designed by Swansea University, Kieran Pearson Game Design and pupils from Pentrehafod School

Reflecting back, we can now see the huge damage that the copperworking industry did to both the landscape of the Lower Swansea Valley and the communities that worked there. A collaboration between Swansea University, Kieran Pearson Game Design and Pentrehafod School sought to explore how this process could be better understood through the medium of game design. Our ambition was to create a game that informed the player about the historic copperworking industries of South Wales, their global connections, and the processes and methods that were behind the conversion of coal and copper ore into refined pure copper – a product that was to have a profound impact on societies across the world. But we also wanted to model the habitat restoration project undertaken in the 1960-70s that sought to re-green the valley through the planting of trees. The game went through numerous iterations before bringing in an expert team of gamers from Pentrehafod School to co-design the final product. This is now freely available to play by clicking Here.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and part of a wider project led by Professor Kirsti Bohata, this activity was keen to explore how we could use game design as a way of exploring values, making decisions, and encouraging future generations to see themselves as agents of change in the necessary endeavor of achieving Net Zero within their own lifetimes.

Project researchers:

Dr Alex Langlands
Dr Sean Walton
Dr Tom Owen