Gaming for the Energy Transition: Experimenting and learning in co-designing a serious game prototype

Katharina Gugerell*, Christian Zuidema

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)
109 Downloads (Pure)


Experimenting and learning are increasingly considered as means to innovate governance approaches for pursuing a more sustainable society. Learning and experimenting can unfold in different formats, such as games or co-design processes. This paper investigates an experimental co-design process conducted in the Dutch Province of Groningen to collaboratively design a serious game called the ‘Energy Safari’. Serious games can mimic real-world issues and thus provide a safe and open environment that is inviting for exploring, experimenting and learning. Co-designing games is recognized for its capacity to support the integration of ‘real world’ components in games, which is also our first ambition with the experimental co-design process of the ‘Energy Safari. Little attention has been paid, however, to the role of the game-co-design process itself to instigate civic learning events. Our second ambition targets this research gap. The analysis illustrates that co-designers are very well capable to experiment with serious game components in a way that creates a meaningful and recognisable regional narrative that deeply embeds regional challenges. Linked to playful game prototyping learning events also occurred during the co-design practises and the debriefing cover a wide range of learning activities, ranging from single loop to triple loop learning Ambiguity and procedural gaps forced the co-designers to question practises and institutions by confronting them with their real-world experience. Our analysis suggests, that prototypes thus need a nuanced balance between generic and specific to generate an open experimentation and learning space that is however deeply rooted in a regional narrative. Doing so can subsequently trigger a rich variety of civic learning activities. Nevertheless, it is also clear that the promotion of more inquisitive triple loop learning effects will not easily emerge and likely require active promotion.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-116
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Cleaner Production
Early online date24-Apr-2017
Publication statusPublished - 15-Dec-2017


  • Serious games
  • Learning
  • Experimentation
  • Co-design
  • Energy transition
  • Civic learning

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