Bengaluru’s Garbage Trouble in a Board Game
Photo: The News Minute
Photo: The News Minute

Bengaluru’s Garbage Trouble in a Board Game

The moral of the story is that you play the game in order to get the point.

A group of researchers in Bengaluru have designed a game that will explain to Bangaloreans how important it is to know where their garbage goes.

Fields of View, which works with public safety and security in urban systems, has developed the Kaasu-Kasa (Money-Waste), a board game in which players try to ensure that the IT city is garbage-free. In English, the game is titled Rubbish – the word ‘rubbish’ beginning with the rupee symbol.

Photo: The News Minute
Photo: The News Minute

Bharath Palavalli is one of the researchers at the group that worked on the board game. She says, the game is part of their research work, which looks at ideas that could make urban systems work.

Their work involves designing games and simulations that could be played or used by citizens. This usage is in turn used by the researchers at Fields of View to understand if their ideas could work in the real world.

In Kaasu-Kasa for instance, the idea is to ensure that garbage is disposed off properly through Dry Waste Collection Centres (DWCC). Four to six people can play at a time, and each player is a DWCC manager who must ensure that each ward in the city has a well-functioning DWCC.

The game is built to understand the dynamics of waste disposal, its logistics, and what happens to the garbage once it leaves your house. Most people dissociate themselves with waste once it gets out of their houses. Now at least, because of the (garbage) crisis in the last four to five years, people know that there is a landfill.

-Bharath Palavalli, Reseacher at Fields of View

Photo: The News Minute
Photo: The News Minute

If garbage keeps piling up in the landfills, everybody loses the game, Palavalli says. “It’s a game of collective failure or collective winning. It’s pretty much how real life works, right?,” he adds, explaining that the game was designed to test whether or not a decentralised system of garbage disposal could work.

One of the partner groups that Fields of View works with is Hasiru Dala, an organization which specializes in waste disposal. The idea for the game originated in discussions with Hasiru Dala, which will also get various groups such as students to play the game, and thereby create awareness about waste management.

Photo: The News Minute
Photo: The News Minute

Palavalli says that his organisation partners with the Dala in such exercises, as they are a ‘data collection tool’. The manner in which people play the game is observed by the researchers and is used as a means to understand whether or not a decentralised model, or a particular type of regulatory framework would work in the real world.

He also said that he and his colleagues took great care to ensure that the complexity of the problem at hand was not lost when designing a game. He said that Kaasu-Kasa was developed in around seven months, but some games took longer because they did not want to ‘misrepresent’ the complexities of a problem.

It is not simplistic, and if you make it a simplistic game, then you reduce the value of such a game because you would not be talking about the problem anymore.

-Bharath Palavalli, Reseacher at Fields of View

The game is not available in the market, but Fields of View creates as many pieces of the board game as necessary. The other groups with whom the group have partnered with are Amsterdam-based Media Lab and the IIIT-Bangalore.

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