Experimental Production

Sustainability Futures Game

Accelerating sustainability transitions requires creativity and imagination to concretise desirable alternative futures built in engaging narratives. For this purpose, Hellon have designed the Sustainability Futures Game. The game can be played as physical or online version and is designed for people with leadership and sustainability-related roles within organisations. It facilitates players to co-create a desirable future state for 2030, where selected UN SDG goals have been achieved. The game is a fruitful conversation starter for near-future strategy discussions. Even though it includes educational elements, its main purpose is inspirational and pushing the boundaries of “as-is thinking” with creative methodologies. The Sustainability Futures Game has been designed as a continuation of the Nordic Urban Mobility 2050 Futures Game  game, which was created by Hellon for Nordic Innovation Nordic Smart Mobility and Connectivity programme in 2019.  

Sustainability Futures Game pushes imagination by asking triggering questions around eg. value systems, everyday life, new habits and new governance models (image credits: Hellon)

During Autumn 2020, Hellon organised 5 online and 1 physical game sessions with different service designers, researchers, sustainability experts, and system designers which resulted in continuous iteration and redesign of the original version of the game. The final design has been tested on November 2020, with sustainability professionals from FIBS network companies, the largest CR network in the Nordic countries. Unlike the original mobility-focused game, Sustainability Futures Game has a holistic societal outlook and allows players from diverse backgrounds to co-create desirable future scenario and take away from that what matters in their organization’s context, ambition and values. Hence the outcome from the game varies between participants and what they find interesting and relevant. Diversity aims to increase out-of-box thinking, finding opportunities and creating different pathways for reaching the SDGs.

Details of the Sustainability Futures Game board (image credits: Hellon)

In practice, the game can be tested with a half day session, or as a one week sprint with much more in-depth analyses and documented outcomes. It consists of 2 main parts:

  • The first part of the game uses methods from arts and design around improvisation, fiction writing and creative problem solving. The gamified approach immerses participants in a future story they can co-create and emotionally connect with, encouraging them to interact and engage in dialogue. The game produces a constructive platform for discussions, leading to a better understanding of future possibilities as well as potential conflicting views.
  • The second part of the game focuses on identifying critical challenges and solutions to achieve the co-created desirable future. It results in concrete suggestions for today’s actions.
Kirsikka Vaajakallio and AK Varjus are testing the physical version of the Sustainability Futures Game (image credits: Hellon)

During the first quarter of 2021, Hellon have met 15 public and private organisations in Finland, presenting Sustainability Futures Game as a creative approach to address their sustainability challenges. Overall reaction has been very positive and the game approach has been found unique and needed for the organisations. Especially, following needs were especially highlighted by the business organisations: 

  • Building capacity for “imagining alternative futures”
  • Creating engagement among employees to talk about sustainability goals and strategies
  • Connecting sustainability goals into everyday business context
  • Creating sense of urgency and encouraging behaviour change
  • Better education and understanding around Sustainability goals

New online game sessions will be organised by Hellon during May 2021 and autumn 2021 to further evaluate the tool. 

There is both a physical version with a tangible game board and playing cards and a virtual version of the game. Which one would you like to play? (image credits: Hellon)