Playing for a Good Life: How a Card Game Can Prompt Citizen Engagement

In June 2022, the Healthy Austria Fund (Fonds Gesundes Österreich – FGÖ) held the 24th Austrian Health Promotion Conference as a hybrid event in Linz with the theme Promote Health – Protect the Climate. The CSCP, as part of the PSLifestyle project, was invited to contribute to the conference with a workshop on the topic of “health and equity co-benefits of citizen engagement in sustainability”, in collaboration with EuroHealthNet, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (NL) and PROGES.

During the conference, the PSLifestyle project team explored citizen engagement through a card game that brings together climate, health, and equity. The aim was to share with the participants some of the key findings so far from this approach to citizen engagement as implemented in the first round of the PSLifestyle Living Labs and highlight some of the ways in which creative interactive methods can be used to engage citizens.

Bringing citizen engagement methods alive

In order to bring this topic alive, the PSLifestyle team adapted the Situation Lab’s Creative Commons card game The Thing From the Future to the health and climate topic and played it with the workshop participants in small groups. The game is a fun, interactive method of idea generation and can be played in various forms, from small groups to a whole-room game.

During the conference, we had three categories of prompts in different piles of cards: challenges, themes, and actors. The group shuffled these and turned one of each over. These then acted as a set of prompts, for which they as individuals had 3 minutes to come up with a health and climate related idea. The challenge card set out the particular issue for which they had to find a solution; the theme card gave the type of solution; and the actors card shared the people who would be enacting it. When the time was up, everyone shared their idea with their group and they collectively decided on a winning idea. These were then shared with the whole workshop after each round.

A tool for opening up the creative process

A key advantage of a card game like this is the way it challenges you to come up with ideas that link combinations of parameters which you might not normally bring together. For example, you might think that there’s not an obvious solution to the challenge of water pollution through a food-related project in a centre for older people. However, the game mechanism forces you into finding a way to link things together, find commonalities and often generate quite innovative ideas. The fact that the process comes in the form of a game makes it less intimidating to dive into.

In our workshop, participants shared ideas for a range of card combinations such creating an app that gives users live updates about allergens in the air or transforming empty buildings to create meeting places to improve the mental wellbeing of communities.

Games and other interactive activities are an integral part of the methodology of our PSLifestyle Living Lab meetings, where through inclusive methods we explore topics of sustainable behaviours and lifestyles together with citizens, co-developing the PSL Tool in the process. To learn more about our next lab meetings in Estonia, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, Portugal, Slovenia and Turkey, check out our PSLifestyle website and sign up for our newsletter (at the bottom of the page) for opportunities to get involved.

For further questions, please contact Arlind Xhelili.