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Biofuels Gamification in Clean Tech: GBO Hawaii

Published on August 7th, 2012 | by Scott Cooney

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Gamification in Clean Tech: GBO Hawaii

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August 7th, 2012 by
 

Players in GBO Hawaii are impact investors, and can invest in clean energy, alternative transportation, and sustainable food businesses.

A new board game from GreenBusinessOwner.com aims to make clean tech, and sustainability in general, fun. GBO Hawaii (ages 13+, 2-4 players, 45 minutes, to 1.5 hours) is a game of strategy, impact investing, and skillful maneuvering of public policy. The idea is that players are impact investors, and invest their money across the island state of Hawaii to help create clean energy, alternative transportation, local food, and waste reduction businesses.

The aim? To get the best triple bottom line return on investment:

  • people (you get points for creating green collar jobs),
  • planet (you get points for offsetting dirty energy, waste, and imports of processed, GMO food), and
  • profit (you earn dividends on your green business investments)

Here’s a 1-minute video explaining the game in more detail:

It’s kind of like Monopoly from the investment angle, but instead of driving everyone else into the poor house, the game brings out a spirit of coopetition… sometimes your investments benefit other players and vice versa. If you invest in a green building retail store, for instance, and then someone else starts a green construction company, your store will benefit from having the construction company as a commercial customer (you’d draw extra Resource Cards).

So… Monopoly: drive everyone to bankruptcy, build at all costs, spend time in white collar prison without losing any of your assets and then bribe your way out. Anyone else believe this game helped contribute to the global economic crisis?!?

GBO Hawaii: everyone invests and has a chance to make money and do good, but one player just does better than others and wins the game.

Here’s the Resource Card representing the Clean Tech Engineer Entrepreneur, with which you start clean tech businesses:

(There are other entrepreneur types for each of the other sustainable industries).

For teachers looking for a way to integrate sustainability into the classroom, GBO Hawaii is a great way to engage students to think about economics, public policy, and the impacts of business. Each business card has educational material on the back:

In addition, there are free, downloadable lesson plans, slide deck PDFs, and other teacher resource materials on the GBO Hawaii home page.

The game is also adaptable. It is easily modified to become a card game that is simpler and quicker, or can be played as a board game with 2-4 players.

The game is available on Amazon.

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About the Author

Scott Cooney (twitter: scottcooney) is an adjunct professor of Sustainability in the MBA program at the University of Hawai'i, green business startup coach, author of Build a Green Small Business: Profitable Ways to Become an Ecopreneur (McGraw-Hill), and developer of the sustainability board game GBO Hawai'i. Scott has started, grown and sold two mission-driven businesses, failed miserably at a third, and is currently in his fourth. Scott's current company has three divisions: a sustainability blog network that includes the world's biggest clean energy website and reached over 5 million readers in December 2013 alone; Pono Home, a turnkey and franchiseable green home consulting service that won entrance into the clean tech incubator known as Energy Excelerator; and Cost of Solar, a solar lead generation service to connect interested homeowners and solar contractors. In his spare time, Scott surfs, plays ultimate frisbee and enjoys a good, long bike ride. Find Scott on



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