The Canary’s Not Dead, It’s Just Resting: The Productive Failure of a Science-Based Augmented-Reality Game

Elisabeth Sylvan, James Larsen, Jodi Asbell-Clarke, & Teon Edwards
In Proc. of Games + Learning + Society (GLS 8.0.) June 13- 15, 2012, Madison, Wisconsin, USA. ETC Press, 31-37.


A prototype alternate-reality game called Canaries in a Coalmine presented players with an ominous message from the future, a modern-day battle with overly sensationalized media, and a challenge to both solve the game’s mystery and take environmental action in the present. Designed to engage a broad public in citizen science using high quality scientific digital resources to build knowledge about complex scientific issues facing our society, Canaries failed…or did it? Fewer than expected players interacted with the game, prompting the designers to close the game without it being played through to completion. The designers and researchers share lessons from this experience that can inform the education and gaming communities.