Making the board: participatory game design for environmental action

Katherine Ball, Kirk Jalbert, Lisa Test

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The US state of Arizona is historically known as a rich source of helium-bearing gas, and market pressures have renewed interest in extracting helium throughout the state’s Holbrook Basin. In response, a group of concerned residents emerged to educate the public and engage with regulators. However, the obscurities of the helium industry and regulatory frameworks complicated the group’s efforts. This paper details a participatory action research project called Helium Futures, a co-designed serious board. We argue that Helium Futures generated capacity for engagement by collaboratively distilling industry and regulatory perspectives, as well as resulted in a device for enrolling allies. Helium Futures, furthermore, highlights how empowerment occurs when situated expertise is accounted for in design-oriented action research. Findings from the project inform research on the public understanding of extraction industries, as well as work studying the impacts of participatory games on public understandings of environmental science.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12-22
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Environmental Studies and Sciences
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Arizona
  • Communities of practice
  • Helium extraction
  • Public engagement in science
  • Serious games

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Environmental Science(all)


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