We're developing a game about the aspirations and uncertainities of global power.
It's designed for anyone to easily learn and play, and generate a fun, meaningful experience.
Civilization was built on the back of power, and was spawned when humans created fire. The development of coal and steam energy drove the industrial revolution, and was followed by the discovery of oil in places like Alberta, where this game was invented.
As a scientist, I know that creation of sustainable clean power is a top priority. I want to make a difference, but often feel powerless due to the apparent immensity of the challenge. However, doing the impossible with limited resources is my job, so I’ve been gradually hacking away at it.
Growing up in Canada I became aware of nuclear energy as being as much a political football and risk to people as a promising energy source. However, the problem seemed far away, like a murky cloud on the horizon.
As a student at the Rockefeller University I saw how oil fortunes could be used to support universities and trainees. Working with scientists including Nobel Laureate David Baltimore showed me how wise investment in science could lead to exciting discoveries about cell signaling and cancer.
I formed my first lab at the University of Colorado in Denver. The Pew Charitable Trusts gave me unrestricted funds to discover how proteins recognize molecules like lipids. Their riches again came from oil, but allowed me to peer into the traffic between organelles in our cells.
This story began to come together when I moved to Birmingham, UK thanks to Wellcome Trust support. I set up a national lab to see the atomic nuclei of proteins using powerful superconducting magnets. I also started to think more concretely about the possibility of addressing global threats through community action.
I joined the Lunar Society, a group of free thinkers, and organized meetings to discuss societal challenges. One evening the conversation turned to responsibility of the creators of industrial revolution to initiate real change, and the need to address the natural resistance individuals have to changing comfortable behaviours.
A few years later I'd moved to Edmonton and we were playing Carcassone, which I'd just been given as a Christmas present. My thoughts germinated into making a fun game for anyone to play about creating sustainable energy to build a better future for our planet.
Geopowr was born, and family and friends came on board to play test and develop the game. I’m still working away in the lab, and really excited about new nanotechnologies we’re developing to create cleaner energies. But in the evenings I play Geopowr and dream of creating a better place for our children.
About Michael: I'm a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Alberta, and study proteins involved in cancer, Alzheimer's Disease and microbial infection. I also founded CureCancer and DiscoveryLab with my students in order to engage the public and the business community in the exciting opportunities coming out of fundamental scientific research.
Board games have been the foundation of my childhood. I’ve lived in varying climates as I was born in Toronto, raised in Denver and moved between cities in England. Playing games provided a way to think about these places and try to make sense of them.
Each of my schools had different approaches to teaching about responsible energy use, some successful, some not so much. It remains a real challenge to get people to think about energy, let alone change behaviours. My generation feels increasingly under pressure to fix the problems of energy insecurity and climate change, and we’re frustrated by the lack of real progress.
I felt compelled to make a difference as I’ve witnessed the effect of energy use on our environment. The real challenge is getting people who feel powerless including stressed parents, displaced teenagers and vulnerable children to get onboard as easily as possible. So I decided to make it fun, and help make a board game that anyone could play, and that children and young people would genuinely enjoy playing.
There is a mathematical logic that is woven in to complement the broader educational agenda. The math is simple. Just create sets of five quadrants to win Construction Sites, Power Plants and Power Towers. We similarly need to all make small, logical steps to better the condition of our planet for future generations.
To me, this is what Geopowr is all about! Let’s make learning and caring about our home planet be a relaxing, enjoyable and stress free way of becoming more aware. This games allows anyone to become the expert in global energy supply — will you be going for green, renewable energy? Or will you maximise your profits and gain monopoly over oil? The cards are on the table…
About Chloe: I have been a behaviour specialist teaching assistant in a variety to both school and community settings. Some of these include The Fortune Centre of Riding Therapy boarding school for young adults with SEND, Music shakers (a community class for mothers/fathers/guardians/foster parents and their little ones), Montessori nurseries in Canada, and in SEND and PRU school settings in the UK. I graduated from the University of Southampton with a BSc Psychology, and I am now working as a consultant for SEND schools in the UK. Due to my background in school settings and with children, I believe I am in a prime position to work with schools across the world to promote the power of creative, fun and, proactive learning!