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GreenSweeper: Old game, new trait.

Greensweeper (not and actual image of the game)

Not actually an image of the game.

In the paper “GreenSweeper: A Persuasive Mobile Game for Environmental Awareness” authors Hui-chun Lin, Kah Liu, and Nithya Sambasivan present “a collaborative, mixed-reality, photo-based mobile game aimed at promoting environmental awareness” called Greensweeper. The aim of this particular game is to tie reflection to awareness raising, using play.

Just as the name suggests, it has been modelled after the easily recognizable single-player game Minesweeper, variations of which have been around for decades. Just as in Minesweeper, the player has to be mindful of both finding and avoiding “mines” that are hidden on a simple grid. In this game, however, a mine would be an area in the live world with a relatively low “level of greenness.”

An area’s level of greenness is established through the participation of players, who first select a square from a grid from a map, and then take photographs of the most green, or non-green aspect of that area. Along with such an image players are meant to provides a clear description of the photo along with a tag suggesting it as being green or non-green. The researchers developed a platform, described in their paper, that used this data to generate an approximation of the area’s level of greenness.  An area that is frequently tagged as non-green will be more likely to have a “mine” than would a location that is more frequently tagged green by users. Over time, and with sufficient participation, the user-generated data “will reach a convergence point in which the data will accurately present a map with locations of environmental friendly/un-friendly locations.”

The project, as described in this paper was only tested on 5 people. I will look to follow up on this project in a future post.


Lin, H. C., Liu, K., & Sambasivan, N. (2008). GreenSweeper: A Persuasive Mobile Game for Environmental Awareness. In Ubicomp 2008 Sustainability Workshop.
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