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  • Writer's pictureSteven Doughty

Obesogenic Environment

Expanding the form of "game instruction manual" out to game itself. I've begun to generate some style mock ups of what I imagine a full board game could look like dealing with the topic of pavlovian conditioning and eating environments. The form allows choice of strong visual, spatial, and temporal metaphors, the ability for players to assume the roles of different stakeholders, and a sense of repeatability which itself is multi-functional.

The board game environment carries a variety of affordances. There is an understanding of sequential turn taking, specific rules/actions, and representational visual and abstract game space.

Rules for this game would involves several key elements.

  1. Different Goal Cards to identify the individual player's roles and objectives (Nutritionist, Restaurateur, and Eco-Farmer)

  2. Game pieces representing the player.

  3. Sequential turns as representing units of Time (Examples).

  • Draw A Stimulus Card

  • Pair/Unpair Stimulus Cards

  • Move Token

  • Collect Response (cards/tokens) . Victory Points

Through the specifics of the ruleset different aspects of classical conditioning could be encoded. Such as extinction or higher order conditioning. The game space will visually represent some of the common examples and elements of Obesogenic Environments found in modern life, such as farms, food factories, grocery stores, and fast food ads. Physically moving pieces through these environments adding a level of emotional projection and involvement to predetermined spatial metaphors (up, down, in, and out.) already on the board.

The visual aesthetic in this initial version is a blend of art nouveau and steampunk (which itself is heavily influences by the 19th century movement). I find the juxtaposition of the mechanical and organic reinforce the opposing viewpoints of "nature vs nurture" commonly found in conversations about food and learning. The mechanistic imagery of gears, steam, and industry also serve to draw attention to reductionist scientific philosophies and experiments from sprung Pavlov's discovery of classical conditioning. While the organic colors and smooth curves of the vines and greenery imply something more holistic, natural, and chaotic. The overall mood of the style invokes a 19th century fantasy scene. This is both homage to the time period in which Pavlov did a majority of his work and also create intellectual space between the player and the topic as to avoid becoming too didactic.

The rules environment of the game are static, but the nature of the game is that it is dynamic and repayable. This last affordance sits as a sort of meta commentary on learning, habit forming and conditioning. If the game itself is fun and well designed, the players will find themselves being rewarded by playing it. The reward in turn will lead to the development of higher level conditioning or habits associated with the imagery and topics of the game.

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