Operation CLEVER

As part of their mission to raise awareness of electronic waste with a range of audiences, researchers from the CLEVER project devised an interactive game, based on the children’s “Operation” game.

IMG_20150803_164808The game has been road-tested at events such as a mini-science fair at Loughborough University, at the Portsmouth Summer Fair and at Glastonbury Festival.

Dr James Suckling said: “We decided to make a game that we thought would be fun to play. We figured if we liked it, then anyone should! The aim was to use the game as an ice-breaker, and it has certainly exceeded that expectation. I have found that when young children and parents have been at an event together, I have managed to have a good conversation with the parents while the children are engrossed in the game.”

The game looks like a giant mobile phone, with a loud buzzer to make people jump and to be heard over the background noise of a public event. It has LEDs to make it stand out in a busy environment. It even includes a counter, which registers the number of times the buzzer is set off. This has added an element of competition, with some people keen to complete in the shortest time, with the least buzzes.

James explained: “We have found the game a good way of engaging with the public about EPSRC funded projects. People are always surprised by the impacts of phones. They are interested in what we do, how we are looking at ways to mitigate the impact of electronic waste and the ideas that we are proposing.”

The game has proved to be a great way of attracting attention at large scale events, and is proving effective at starting conversations about the impact of electronic devices and demonstrating that small actions (such as keeping old phones) can result in unintended consequences.

James concluded: “I have learned a lot about engaging with the public. If you can interest people with some attention grabbing statistics, you can often lead them further into a discussion of increasing detail. I have learned how to tailor my message to get over as much as I can in the short time we sometimes have to talk with people, rather than go for the complete hard sell! I have also learned a lot about listening to what people say and how they view the work that we do. Most importantly I have learned that having a game to play is a real winner – only having a poster to read does not grab people’s attention in the same way as having something to touch.”