Katherine Ball, Arizona State University;
Kirk Jalbert, Arizona State University

New Orleans 2019: Playing / crafting

Helium Futures is an engagement and education game centered around a fictional community facing helium extraction. The game was co-developed with No Fracking Arizona, a concerned citizen group, with an innovative approach to applied, engaged STS. The project focuses on public participation in science and their interactions with policy-making systems. It expands on STS work on resource extraction and in building capacity in partnership with communities through participatory design and game studies.

Play focuses on trying to reach an ideal, player-set, balance between public, industry, and regulatory influence over development. By using their voices in scenarios, based on real-world events, players try to move their community towards their envisioned future. The end of the game pulls game play into the real world through a guided conversation about how players would respond if faced with an unknown future of helium extraction. This conversation focuses on speculative futures grounded in contemporary events.