Mission Gaia is an interactive immersion game designed and produced by TRAM MÉDIA, focusing on sustainable development issues.

The game, created as part of a museum exhibition, is a large multimedia installation that offers players a sometimes disturbing look at rampant consumption, social injustice and the damage we do to our ecosystems.

The goal of the experience is to make visitors aware of the urgent need for action if we are to leave a viable environment for future generations.

 

 

The game

Mission Gaia is a strategy game focusing on sustainable development, in which players must find solutions to environmental, social and economic problems.

An “immersion” environment

Visitors form teams around one of the 21 game tables (there is room for up to four players at each table). All in all, up to 84 young visitors can play at one time.

As they proceed through their missions, players are surrounded by a huge circular screen that shows images accompanied by sound effects suited to the game.

The giant screen is striking when seen from the outside, but on the inside it creates a bubble-like environment that helps players concentrate and co-operate.



 


The circular screen is slightly inclined on its axis, evoking the Earth’s own inclination.
It also represents the fragile balance that players must strive to maintain.



 

Action and co-operation

Mission Gaia is a game lasting 45 minutes in which players are assigned a number of missions. They have to respond to emergencies based on actual events; manage a city; and handle international crises.

Each team is constantly confronted with situations calling for solutions based on sustainable development principles.

Once the last mission is completed, the World Council (which has been co-ordinating operations since the game started) invites the teams to vote on a topic—overpopulation or social injustice, for instance—that will be the theme of the International Forum that all teams are invited to attend. The goal of the Forum is to rally all the teams around one of the proposed solutions.

Since the whole concept of sustainable development is based on joint action, this last step helps players understand that everyone must get involved to solve the problems threatening today’s world.



 

 

Understanding sustainable development leads to more effective action

Mission Gaia was developed along the lines of board games like Risk, Settlers of Catan and Diplomacy.

At each step along the way, players must analyze and weigh the proposed solutions.

Every solution has its own value, which translates into a number of years won or lost in relation to the three sustainable development indicators:

• the environment;

• human development;

• the economy.

When players choose a solution, its value is shown on a time scale.

The goal is to solve as many situations as possible and get as far as possible into the future.

BUT there is a major consideration to keep in mind: to progress on the time scale, the value of each solution chosen must make it possible to keep the three indicators in balance. Otherwise the move will not be allowed.

This simple and efficient method of play is designed to show players that the basic principle of sustainable development is maintaining a balance between the environment, human development and the economy.

 
 

Hints, tips and advice / An interactive coach

Like all board games, Mission Gaia comes with some rules that must be followed.

In this case, the program acts as an interactive coach throughout the game.

Players’ intuition is very important, and they will have fun and take pride in learning the game strategy themselves.

Whenever they run into difficulty, however, the program suggests different alternatives that will help them continue.

As the game evolves, the program gives players hints on how to improve their performance—for example, by playing more than one solution at a time.

This user-friendly interface with the program lets players concentrate on the game and on enjoying it as they learn.

Beyond the screen

The Mission Gaia game “board” is an LCD screen laid flat.

There is no keyboard or mouse or touch screen.

Players place the required number of tokens on the appropriate section of the game screen—on one of the chosen solutions or on the navigator, which allows them to change zones or continents. Once they have placed their tokens, the players confirm their choice by pressing a button near the screen.

Each player has one token. The team can play only four tokens at a time, i.e. one per player. This makes it essential for team members to co-operate at all times in order to advance.

The moderator, or gamemaster

There are two ways to play: in “public” or “group” mode.

In “public” mode, visitors enter the playing area whenever they like and play at their own pace.

In “group” mode, the game tables and circular screen are synchronized and the moderator becomes the gamemaster, starting the action and launching each new mission. This gives the moderator time to talk to the young players and explain the main principles of sustainable development. It is also a chance to challenge the players to outperform the other teams and perhaps even beat the best lifetime score.

When the game reaches the Forum stage, the moderator initiates the voting process for each round of voting. He or she encourages the young players to vote and to quickly reach a consensus. If a majority approves one solution on the first round, the teams receive a 20-year bonus on their time scales!








 
  Client:  Montréal Science Centre
Type of exhibition:  permanent
Exhibition lifetime:  7 years
Length of the activity:  45 minutes
Capacity:  maximum of 84 visitors at a time
Target group:  ages 9 to 14
Approach:  “public” (at visitors’ own pace) or “group” (with moderator)
 
3811 Ontario Street East, Suite 201
Montreal, Quebec H1W 1S5 CANADA
Tel.:  (514) 844-0787
info@trammedia.ca