Are you in the loop?

In the Loop is a resource strategy board game created by TU Delft alumna, Katherine Whalen, to help generate awareness of critical raw materials.

“Today’s society is facing some pretty big challenges: price fluctuations of raw materials, questions of energy security, and climate change. Does our current focus allow us to solve these problems effectively? Maybe we’re inclined to label things too fast and think of challenges as only political, environmental, social or economic affairs,” stated Whalen. “In the Loop employs game based learning to combine these different approaches into one broader perspective.” Whalen, originally from the US, developed the game as her graduation project for her Master’s in Industrial Design Engineering at TU Delft in 2013, after researching the topic of critical raw materials. “Digging deeper into the subject area I found it to be a very complex and abstract topic that is connected with many other global issues, so I created In the Loop as a way to engage others and make this topic tangible,” she said. David Peck, Assistant Professor at TU Delft, assisted with the project. He uses the game in his lectures, and calls it: “The most effective way I’ve seen of getting people to understand why the circular economy is so important.”

How does it work? “Each player or team of players is a product producing company. You move around the global board while gathering the materials needed to make your product. The first company to have successfully launched three products wins. However, like in the real world, the future is unknown. Random world events occur throughout the game and affect your ability to collect materials and make your product,” explained Whalen. “The only sure-fire way to win is to invest in strategies that can help defuse these events. It’s surprising how fast you realise the need for a new way of using our resources.”

Following a successful Kickstarter campaign in summer 2015 to realise production, the of the game can now be pre-ordered. In collaboration with Granta Design in the UK, QR codes have been included to provide an online library to learn more about the materials in the game. In November 2015, Whalen won the ASN Bank’s For the World of Tomorrow Competition, in the Children and Education category. This award will fund a Dutch edition, which has been translated and is currently awaiting production. “Over the past two years the game has quickly evolved and proved to have broader applications: from professional development workshops and secondary school education, to university electives and even at-home play,” explained Whalen. See to find out more.

Whalen is currently a PhD candidate at the International Institute of Industrial Environmental Economics at Lund University in Sweden. She is also working with TU Delft on a circular funding programme, KIC EIT Raw Materials, which aims to make raw materials a major strength for Europe. See for details.

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