From climate crises to social inequalities, the world is filled with serious challenges. Amidst this backdrop, hope comes from an unexpected source: the realm of gaming. In the season 4 finale of the Alternative Design podcast, Serious Play: Gaming for Global Good, we explore the intersection of education, community engagement, and gaming.

Enter Livelab, a non-profit that develops technologies and strategies of collaborative gaming for positive transformation. We interviewed Manuela Colombo, Livelab’s Executive Director, who is at forefront of this movement. She thinks games can drive community engagement and catalyze global change.


At the heart of this discussion is the concept of game-based learning—a pedagogical approach that has been gaining traction in recent years. Unlike traditional methods, game-based learning transcends the boundaries of the classroom, immersing players in interactive, experiential environments where learning becomes an adventure.


Colombo sheds light on the profound impact of game-based learning, emphasizing its ability to empower communities and ignite collective action. Through games, individuals discover the untapped potential within themselves and their communities, paving the way for innovative solutions to real-world challenges.

She discussed the X Journey game, which is a unique creation that epitomizes the fusion of gamification, education, and community engagement. This immersive experience educates and empowers players to become agents of change. By simulating real-world scenarios and fostering collaboration, X Journey transcends the boundaries of traditional education, transforming learning into a dynamic, participatory process that utilizes collective intelligence to solve problems.

Yet, amidst the excitement surrounding game-based learning, challenges abound. Colombo candidly addresses the hurdles faced in implementing innovative approaches in education, from skepticism to resource constraints. However, she remains steadfast in her belief that games can be a powerful catalyst for positive change on a global scale.


So, how can the spaces we design facilitate “serious play”, particularly in the context of education? These spaces need to be integrated into communities where students can have easy access to local leaders to discuss problems together. We need to increase maker labs and offer a wider range of spaces that are created for the local context at hand. Spaces should be adaptable to accommodate diverse types of play and learning activities.

Spaces should also be accessible for all, regardless of age, ability, or background. By fostering intergenerational learning communities and cultivating a culture of collaboration and creativity, games have the power to unite people from all walks of life. Diversity is key to solving complex problems. Bringing together a wide range of perspectives, experiences, and expertise will lead to fresh solutions. They also need to facilitate collaboration and teamwork for occupants, encouraging communication and cooperation among participants to promote a sense of community and belonging.

It is increasingly evident that play is not merely a leisurely pursuit, but a powerful tool for transformation. Through the spaces we design, and with the help of gamified problem solving, we can empower individuals and inspire creative solutions to some of the most pressing issues of our time. Armed with the belief that through play, we can shape a brighter, more equitable, and sustainable world for generations to come.