PlayReal: Mission Zero

Episode Food Wisdom


From February - June 2010 two groups of students of the Amsterdam International Community School (AICS) played PlayReal's first episode about Food Wisdom.
Planet Dheghom served as a virtual environment to encourage the players to think about sustainable agriculture and display its effects in the real world.

The adventure

The future of planet Earth is at stake.
The Interplanetary Consortium has issued a challenge to our planet.

Verlo Aiskros:

'I am not sure that humans are up to the task'.

On a distant planet called Dheghom a small band of settlers are struggling to find a new and better way of life. They need your ideas and your collaboration to succeed. You must work together to help establish a permanent settlement and guarantee food security.

IC Boardmember:

'If the project fails, the Consortium may have to take more aggressive measures'.

In order to assist the Dheghomians you will be invited to attend real-life events at the Geodome and benefit from the knowledge and know-how of specialised Intergalactic Counsellors. You will be able to share your ideas with other participants in the social game-space, where you can also receive particular assignments, keep track of your score, and learn about the planet’s latest developments. Finally a virtual version of planet Dheghom will allow you to interact directly with the Dheghomians and see how your suggestions take shape in the new settlement.

PlayReal Representative:

'We can make it if we all work together'.

Will you help the settlers of Dheghom?
Will you help safeguard Earth’s future?


Adventures are quests that generally involve conducting research about the way things are currently done on Earth, and about the way they were done in the past. Sometimes alternative scenarios are proposed in order to come up with answers to specific questions and solutions to particular problems. Team members are encouraged to share information and discuss their findings so that they can coordinate their efforts.
There is no predetermined way to address the challenges that are presented in an adventure (field research, interviews, Internet resources, individual brainstorming, discussion and debate, etc.). Teams are also free to present their findings in a medium of their choice (text, audio, video, photography, drawing, mixed media, etc.). The end results are then posted on the social gamespace so that all participants may benefit from each group’s work.

IC Counsellors (Historian, Gardener, Tinkerer) were available to assist the teams with their specific knowledge or expertise; they may provide clues at the start of an adventure or answers along the way. Behind these characters are real-life organisations:

The Gardener: CityPlot

Cityplot aims to heighten human awareness of nature’s cycles in urban areas. Our Cityplot team does this by encouraging and supporting you in your gardening and botanical endeavours.
They interacted with players on the concept of Food Security. What happens if a big volcano erupts and planes cannot fly? Or a big oil platform explodes and ships are delayed? How would we ensure that the food we need is on our plates?
They held a workshop on Planting and Sowing, providing the knowledge to develop the food garden at the Geodome. During the game (both online and offline), they answered all questions related to growing food.

The Historian: Kasteel Groeneveld

Kasteel Groeneveld is part of the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV). They provide activities for policy and public education, to make people feel responsible for landscape and countryside.
During the game, they provided knowledge and answered questions related to the history of Agriculture. For instance, cities and countryside were once together and in time they started to drift apart.

The Tinkerer: Imagination

Imagenation is a generator of product ideas and designs. They also develop new products.
During the pilot, they answered hands-on construction questions and helped players in the Geodome build a scale model for their solutions.

The Mediator: Permaculture Association

During the online and offline game, the Mediator, who belongs to the Permaculture Association, tried to ask questions to students that made them think of the permaculture values.
The ultimate goal is to help the Dheghomians establish a permanent, well planned, and well managed settlement. Solutions must be ethical and establish a relative balance with the environment. In order for “Project Dheghom” to succeed designs must show respect for nature, companionship and collaboration among people, and balance in sharing. In other words, the permaculture values: Earthcare, Peoplecare and Fairshare.

Group assignments will require solving one of the aspects of building a sustainable village on Dheghom. Dheghomians will be available to answer questions in Second Life. The Dheghom environment will be simulated at the Geodome to better understand the challenges faced by the Dheghomians and experiment with possible responses to meet them. Players were challenged to think about the following issues
• What Grows where?
• Food Preparation
• Food Security
• Water Distribution
• Water Uses
• Shelter
• Village planning

Profile and Guild Assembler

The Profile plays an important role in the game because it is a place where the players can have a record their skills, knowledge and interests. In both the online and real-life sessions, we encourage players and Intergalactic Counsellors to observe their own resourcefulness and enrich their profile. This way, everybody knows who has which skills and what skills are missing. This is especially useful in groups that are working (mostly) remotely. Every time players participate by posting posting media in the gamespace or uploading media in their profile, their profile is enriched.
Adventures are assigned to teams assembled with the help of our Guild Assembler that combines individuals based on their particular aptitudes and skills as reported on their profiles. For example, a player might be a capable researcher, particularly creative, a fine drawer, or good at building things.

As a proof of concept, we used four skills: researcher, creative, drawer and builder, and the teams were created with a mix of all these skills.