Gamifying Create Better Impact Games

Create Better Impact LogoSo as you may know Create Better Impact Games is my company.  I design games around making the world a better place which I know will one day be worthy of winning awards from Games for Change. Right now, this is a little tiny company with a little tiny budget.  Not that one day it won’t be able to hold its own with the big boys, but for now marketing is not the top priority.

As I got ready to bring Waste Not to market using an Indiegogo Campaign I had to think seriously about how to approach marketing. While I have a lot of people in my contacts I couldn’t be sure who would actually have natural interest and who might need some convincing.

Being a game designer I tried to think of ways to make liking or signing up on social media fun and engaging to the community.  This process is called gamification and everyone and their mother is currently trying to apply it to their web presence.  I am lucky that it is part of my natural reaction to communications.

Waste Not Logo
What are you going to do with it?

Back to the point.  There I was at the start of a campaign trying to raise money to print Waste Not.  My Facebook page for both CBI Games and Waste Not were relatively new with little to now following, I had just begun a Twitter presence for Waste Not, and I had nothing on Google+.  So in response I decided to give away a version of my game for free via social media.  You heard me, for free.

I figured that if people got a chance to play the game, even if slightly different interactions than with having a deck of cards, that they’d be more likely to ‘like’ and engage with the marketing of the brand.  In this case, I was seeking to let the game speak for itself.

Now I’ve been going forward with the understanding that this deck of cards will be able to be used in many ways.  That will always happen when you give someone a flexible tool, is that they will begin to bend it and play with it.  In fact many of the stories that we know from childhood have changed over the centuries.  The basic story is still there to communicate the archetypal hero/ine’s journey but the details change.

Well that’s exactly what I’m seeing happening with Waste Not on Social Media.  While the instructions were to share the status so that others could see what you were liking and playing people tended to comment on the Waste Not status.  While this did not garner the amazing viral experience I was hoping for, I did get the benefit of seeing how people began to play the game.  And let me tell you it was fun!  Yes, my games are fun for me too.  Especially when I get to watch others play.

While I’ve let go of the control over the rules and will continue to allow for this project to flow and grow, I’m glad that I undertook this experiment in the gamification of my own marketing.  I think overall those that played did have fun and many of them played several times.  What I’m seeing now is a small but committed group of people who are totally engaged.  I’d prefer this any day to a large, unengaged group.  My hypothesis is that as long as I follow the same theory of engagement that as the following grows it may be smaller initially but they will be more valuable relationships.

Update on Updates

You like me, you really like me!

Lately I’ve been getting tremendous feedback from people stating how much they enjoy the campaign updates, and how much they look forward to them.  Wow!  Thanks!!

You are excited when new updates and newsletters post.  You are happy for Waste Not’s success.  How lucky am I to be a part of a community, made up of both people that I know and those that I don’t, that is so engaged with the process of creating a better world that they look forward to it?  I’d say that I couldn’t be happier.

So what’s the next step?  Well, there are 8 days remain in the Indiegogo campaign and I’d love to build this community more.  Let me know what you’d like to see in the updates, share a picture of something the you reused or upcycled around your house, or maybe tell me how you are planning on using your deck of cards…  Don’t forget you are welcome to check Waste Not on Facebook or Twitter

Also important, tonight I will be videoing playing the game for your entertainment so look forward to some fun Saturday morning videos.

Support Waste Not on Indiegogo!


Unlike Recycling, Upcycling does not need energy above and beyond the call of duty, but it does require some modification. It is also likely that when you are upcycling you are adding other items to the thing you are seeking to create.

Examples of Upcycling

  • Turning used tires into the soles of shoes
  • Melting plastic bags together to make an insulating internal layer for curtains
  • Cutting up an old T-shirt to make cleaning rags

Let’s put this into practice, how might you Upcycle an empty bag of chips?

To check your answer ask yourself if you or another person could do this with relatively little equipment.  If you’d need to send the object a great distance or use intense amounts of energy then you are probably thinking of ReCycling.  If the idea you have doesn’t require changing the shape or basic structure of the material then you are probably thinking of ReUse.  Upcycle on friends!

Support Waste Not on Indiegogo!


Recycling has been the poster child of diverting the waste stream, but is it really the best option?  Recycling actually takes a lot of energy to do and depending on where you are compared to where the processing center is, and the demand for the materials, it might be more environmentally costly than you think.

When you recycle, everything gets collected and shipped to a center.  The batch gets tested for purity and if there is something that shouldn’t be in there then the whole batch gets rejected and put into the landfill.  Yes, it really is important for everyone to rinse out recyclables and make sure that other waste doesn’t make it into the bins.

Once it has been tested the plastic material gets melted down into pellets (glass and paper have their own process of bailing or break down) and then that ‘new’ material gets shipped somewhere new for processing.  The ‘new’ material then gets heated and melted into a new object.

Recycling is an intensive process, and one which there is not always a demand for the materials.  So what happens when you recycle something and there is no demand?  It gets put in the landfill.  But don’t despair there are other options.  Try going go up the ladder a little and possibly Upcycle, or better yet ReUse that item.

Support Waste Not on Indiegogo!


When it comes to the best possible thing you can do with something once it has outlived its original use, nothing tops the charts like ReUse.

When you reuse an item you maintain its inherent value.  That is, not only the shape that it is in, but the energy that was necessary to make that shape does not need to get put into the process again. Of course, in order to do this you must find a new purpose for the item…

Some examples of ReUse:

  • Using broken bricks to line the edge of your garden
  • Bringing an empty glass jar to the store to fill up with something from the bulk section (make sure to have them weight it first)
  • A holey sock becomes a great applicator for oiling your cutting board
  • A Banana peel can be used to polish furniture before going in the compost

See if you can think of a way to reuse a torn T-shirt.
You can check your answer by asking yourself – Does this process require extra energy (time, effort, heat, etc.?)  If you answer yes, then you are probably thinking about Upcycling.  Upcycling uses the raw materials and with some added energy turns it into a new item.  Learn more about that here. If you answer, no, then you are well along your way to becoming a ReUse expert.

Freecycle is a great way to find a use for items that you otherwise might have to toss and many communities are now creating swap shops or reuse centers.  For more information about Zero Waste and ReUse please check out the Reuse Alliance.

Support Waste Not on Indiegogo!

Guest Lecturer or Learner?

I had the awesome opportunity to connect with a classroom students at Greenfield Community College who are working on their Permaculture Design Certificate this past week.  Invited by their engaging, dynamic instructor, Abrah Dresdale, who requested that I talk about waste.

With an hour to teach and bountiful ideas, I arrived at the classroom and jumped right in.  I have to admit that every time I step into a classroom or workshop I ask myself why I ever left in the first place.  It just feels so right to be teaching, and I am energized in a way that feeds my soul.

In case you didn’t know, I left teaching and private school administration in ’08 to study for my MA in Sustainable Communities an Socially Responsible Business.  While I had always thought that I would go back to teach, life after my degree lead me in the direction of working with businesses and non-profit organizations.

Waste NotThat brings us to today where I’m now launching my first game, Waste Not, on Indiegogo, and increasingly teaching through games and interactive exercises.  This also brings us to why Abrah asked me to come in and guest lecture.

Waste Not is more than a game.  Playing helps to teach about the different possibilities of dealing with what otherwise might be considered trash in a way that uses the least amount of energy necessary; rethinking the cycle so to speak.

So everyone in the course got a card and we played and shared together.  Many creative ideas came out of the room that day (infinity candles, computers with upgradable components, etc.) especially when we got to the point of playing the ReDesign process in small groups.

What I wasn’t expecting is that the feedback I got would be about the greater picture.  While the players definitely had fun and enjoyed our time together, the input that I was given was more whole systems.  One woman commented that she could see the game as a great exercise for any group of people who were trying to problem solve together, and that by playing they’d really be able to do a better job as a group.   Another man agreed that the applications of the game went far beyond learning about waste.  Overall I got to enjoy being both the teacher and student that day and look forward to my next opportunity to do so.

I’m grateful for the comments and suggestions I recieved and will be taking them to heart (including how to store value, or give more points for multiple uses, etc.)

Support Waste Not on Indiegogo!

A Living Game

Waste Not is a living game, meaning that it will be updated as conditions change. Much of what we play with is static, but our lives and behaviors shift as discoveries happen. In the early 90’s all of a sudden someone is making biodegradable packing peanuts where there were none before.

Upcycled Light bulbFor many years incandescent light bulbs just had to be thrown away. With a little creativity and intention, I’ve seen those light bulbs upcycled into vases, oil lamps, and more. While I’m not sure we can really use every light bulb that will no longer cast light, removing as many as possible from the waste stream turns them into resources.

What will creativity and innovation bring tomorrow? I certainly don’t know. That’s the best part of having a game that can be updated to reflect change. The text descriptions can be added to as players write back with their ideas, and as science makes progress.

Progress towards zero waste may one day mean that the understanding of our cycling process is simply understood and products are designed with this in mind. But until we get to that point we need to build and play with the understandings that are a part of the cycle. For example, there is no away. The food system is not a pyramid and more of a circle, or really many circles.

Supporting Waste Not on Indiegogo from now until March helps to raise awareness and help move society towards zero waste. That’s pretty awesome of you!


PS The Earth said to say ‘Thanks a bunch!’
PSS In the next update: Film bags and technovomit…

Crowdfunding Reflections, Day 2

I know.  I’ll create a whirlwind and then get inside for the ride.  It’ll be a great idea!

Waste Not ImageWell that’s basically what I’ve done. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled, exhilarated, overjoyed, and full of love and gratitude.  Why?  Well, I get to be the one to bring Waste Not as a card and online game into the world using Indiegogo.   In addition to the wonderful lovey thoughts I’m also tired, my forearms and wrists hurt, and I can’t seem to figure out why my to do list is getting longer even when I’m working more than I’m sleeping.  Any crowd funding campaign will take a lot of energy and now, two days in, I don’t regret this at all.

I would love your help in this endeavor.  Contribute and get yourself a perk.  Share via Social Media.  Comment on the page.

Thank you with all my heart!