Vasiliki Kioupi1

1, Imperial College London, London, , United Kingdom

Sustainable development is a complex concept, but it is also powerful and transformative. In order for students to make sense of its holistic, interdisciplinary and participatory nature they should become engaged in meaningful educational activities that reveal interconnections between social, economic and environmental aspects, take into account stakeholder viewpoints and at the same time assist them to develop sustainability competences. Serious games and digital tools for sustainability help shape students attitudes when making important decisions regarding sustainability and also think systemically and critically about taking courses of action and evaluating them. In contrast to games designed predominantly as free-time activities taken up for leisure or competition, serious games may be played seriously or casually, but are not intended to be played primarily for amusement. This definition of serious games embraces both digital and analog games whose focus is on a “serious” goal, be it education, skill training, self-development or increased work motivation, etc. Game-based and experiential learning are fun and creative, giving the opportunity to participants to experience real-world situations but in a safe and controlled environment where they can test their ideas, express their opinions, develop strategies and check the outcomes. Also, the focus is on engagement, interaction with peers and reflection on the results and processes. Digital tools help students develop their own questions and hypotheses related to sustainability issues, investigate their current state, understand stakeholder involvement, select alternative courses of action, develop criteria for evaluation and weigh different scenarios in terms of their sustainability capacity to produce viable solutions. Through these educational activities, students develop important knowledge and skills that are required in order to achieve the vision of a sustainable society as it is articulated by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Those include systems thinking, anticipatory, normative, strategic, collaboration, critical thinking, self-awareness and integrated problem-solving competences.