A special edition of LeGrandJeu was commissioned by the EUROfusion Communication Department to open the EUROfusion Expo in 2021 and to provide the scientists responsible for communication in the different European countries with an engaging tool to talk about the complex nature of fusion energy.
LGJ-EUROFusion was co-designed in a week-sprint, carried out in January 2020, with a group of nuclear physicists of the Danish Technological University. Three rapid iterations brought us to the development of a series of scenarios including different sources of energy, like fossil, fission, fusion, renewable (RES); different set up of the land and governance systems in place.
The goal is to let conversations emerge around some interesting energy mix vs environment topics e.g. RES and smart grids vs fusion power plant, planet carrying capacity vs lifestyle, nationalistic vs collaborative approaches, short-term vs long-term investments, on- or off-the-grid lifestyles, waste and pollution, welfare and growth, etc. We co-designed this scenario for regular people that experience energy and money and pollution every day. We want for them to grasp the complexity of the matter while being able to talk about it, express their needs and elicit their knowledge.
We envisaged in particular 3 main learning objectives:
- Understand the planet carrying capacity. In LGJ language that translate into a limit to 50 Greys into the Environment Pot, once reached the limit everybody loses. While the Whites pot could be more than one, to represent different lands with different governments, the Greys Pot is always one and it collects all the Greys produced during the game regardless the land of origin.
- Understand the energetic needs. People talk about happy de-growth and, although we advocate for that as well, it is important to understand how energy affects all human activities, including very basic ones like food production, water purification, hospital activities, transports, etc. All these activities have a cost and when a player is set off-the-grid it is not enough to pay, he has to build his/her own procurement before being able to do anything else.
- Understand the energetic sources. Besides the energy source, its performance, its cost and its waste, there is a deep difference in terms of infrastructure between big power plants, e.g. fossil, nuclear but also hydro, and distributed prosumer models. Catastrophic event cards explore the resilience of the network, the convenience of public infrastructure and many other unexpected outcomes of these hybrid network currently coexisting in many countries.
At DTU we tried 2 scenarios:
- the first one had 2 lands with 2 governments. One land had no power plant nor grid and the players on this land were paying the other land to survive. As we often witnessed, the escalation into nationalistic conversation was quick. This group in particular landed onto a law called “North for the North and South for the South”.
- The second one “The hybrid nuclear grid” was just one land running on fission energy. The nuclear power plant was producing a good amount of radioactive wastes that were randomly placed on the land affecting the activities of the players. The conversation quickly turned toward fusion energy and what it would take to reach it but the players not affected yet by radioactivity hindered the initiative.