Board Game Incoming!
Figure 1: Prototype investigation cards used in the development. Image by Max Seidman.

LabX is pleased to announce a new partnership with Tiltfactor, a game lab out of Dartmouth College Tiltfactor Lab at Dartmouth College.  Through this collaboration, Tiltfactor and LabX are designing and developing a science-themed tabletop game, which will be either a board game designed to captivate and excite players while demonstrating the relevance of science and scientific thinking. While most people recognize that science improves our lives, it is often perceived as complex and unapproachable. The Tiltfactor and LabX partnership aims to address this problem.

The partnership emerged as a result of the intersecting missions of the two organizations. LabX aims to empower young adults, ages 18 to 37,individuals, groups, and communities to use the sciences in order to make every-day decisions. Tiltfactor is an innovation studio, founded by Dr. Mary Flanagan, which will build on its 18-year history of designing and studying games for social impact. It has designed games on topics ranging from microbes and the benefits of handwashing to addressing the benefits of group immunity and the importance of vaccines.

“Tiltfactor is thrilled to be teaming up with LabX to create an innovative game that takes on science education,” says Flanagan, the Sherman Fairchild Distinguished Professor in Digital Humanities at Dartmouth. “This is a unique opportunity to support the mission of the National Academy of Sciences. With our experience designing for social impact, we’re excited to produce a game that’s backed by evidence-based science and is also highly fun.”

“You don’t need to be a scientist to appreciate science,” says Rick Thomas, an associate program officer for of LabX. “Just like you don’t need to be a ‘gamer’ to enjoy games. Both science and games offer something to everyone, it is just a matter of presenting them in an interesting way. This is why we are so excited to be partnering with Tiltfactor.”

In the first phase of the project, the teams created game prototypes about: the science of transportation, crime solving and forensic science, and invasive species’ effects on ecosystems. The project is currently in its second phase, in which the teams are further developing a game about forensic science and its strengths and limitations. Phase three of the project will position LabX to publish and release the game to the public later this year.

To date, LabX has launched two other games, including the Extreme Event Game, a role playing game in which players must build community resilience in the face of disaster, and Cat Colony Crisis, which was the winning game from their Jamming the Curve competition to design a video game to help combat COVID-19.