top of page

Educational Board Game

Student Project

Aug - Nov 2014

Four months

Design brief

The game 'Spill in my Gills' is a board game designed to create awareness among school children about Oil Spills and the adverse effects they have on the environment. I chose board games as media because of their higher accessibility and a unique multiplayer involvement that allows greater room for social interactions. Through this game, students were sensitized about how oil spills damage the flora and fauna in the nearby areas and what measures must be taken to prevent the damage.


The work was published 'In a planet of our own - a vision of sustainability with focus on water', Industrial Design Centre(IDC), IIT Bombay, India. December 2015. Read it here.


Game Plot: There has been a massive oil spill due to leakage in an oil rig in the Indian Ocean. The players are a part of the rescue-operation. The spill has been contained by the use of a boom. However the remaining zone is not out of danger yet.  All the players collectively try and clean the spill & rescue the organisms trapped within. The winner is the player with most number of rescued birds & animals.


Apparatus: Game Manual, Game board, Game Tiles,  Player counters


Game Setup

Process​ and Iterations

I started with secondary research about oil spills and CBSE school curriculum in their environmental science books from class II-VI. I chose to depict a scenario which takes place after the oil spill has occurred and its impact on the flora and fauna in the environment.


[Left]Concept Mapping [Right] white boarding of design ideas

Game Play

The setup includes a game board, Game Tiles Cumulus Mumbai 2015 5 and player tokens. There are three types of Game Tiles namely, General Tiles, Cleaning Tiles and Extra Tiles. The general/extra tiles can be either spill, barrel, clean, animal each having a different course of action. The players, indicated by tokens, enter the spilldamaged area and move across the board through the marked spaces.


They can only move a step if it is an empty space or if there is a Clean Tile on it. If they come across a tile on their path, they have to flip it to see what lies beneath the tile. This also creates an added element of suspense in the game.


If the tile is an animal, which needs to be rescued, the player rescues it by bringing it outside the board, thus the affected area. If he encounters a barrel tile, an equal number of extra tiles are drawn and placed in the adjoining places to the barrel.


This occurrence can prove as a hindrance to the rescue mission, and slow the player down. If he encounters a spill, a cleaning tile is drawn and one player notes the stars on the tile (denoting the effectiveness of the method).


The player score is counted with each rescued animal giving a score of 1 point and each 5 stars on the cleaning tiles giving 1 point to the total. In addition, the random movement path of the game differentiates as well as complicates it with the traditional board games that have a linear and predictive progression. The game ends when all the tiles on the game board are flipped. Then total score is then calculated and the player with the maximum score wins.


Paper Prototyping and Playtesting


Playtesting with fellow designers

Playtesting and results

The game was tested for its effectiveness and overall game experience with 9 players: 5 boys and 4 girls of age 8-12 (standard 4th to 7th) with a mix of both formative and summative assessments. The formative aspects include, observational notes and weaved-in conversations with the children while they were playing the game.

Likewise, a game experience questionnaire was designed to get a summative feedback on the overall gameplay and experience. The game was tested on 3 basic parameters- Learnability, Experience and Usability. In pre-Stimulus stage, the players were tested for their Cumulus Mumbai 2015 6 knowledge on oil spills using a questionnaire. This revealed very few were confident about their knowledge on oil spills based on their prior knowledge. After several trial sessions with the game, children were asked to answer a game experience questionnaire along with a scale to measure their acquired knowledge on oil spills.

Although the game was well received by boys and girls alike. We felt boys wanted more action in the game as they had showed lesser patience than girls during the game play. However, the overall positive engagement was reflected in both the genders with requests of a second trial. Moreover, in a very short time the game indeed entice a great interest and awareness of oil spill effects.


Game experience testing plan


Game testing with children


Key findings for the experience design questionnaire


Memorable verbatim form boy and girl players

Design responsibilities:

Research, Ideation, design, prototyping, testing

Tools used:

Paper prototypes, Hand drawn illustrations, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe photoshop

bottom of page