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ARTISTS IN CONTEXT is a flexible organizational framework designed to assemble artists and other creative thinkers across disciplines to conceptualize new ways of representing and acting upon the critical issues of our time.  The Prospectus is the main project of Artists in Context, and is a curated, multimedia collection of works through which artists collaborate with creative thinkers from other fields to propose innovative ways they and others might intervene in major debates on global, national and local/regional scales. More information on the project can be found on the current Prospectus site. Artists in Context is a project of The Arts Company.

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A family card game for 4-8 players

Everyone wants to save the environment, but many people don’t know how they can make a difference in their day-to-day lives. The Process of Elimination presents easy-to-understand water management strategies through the medium of a family card game. The game approaches the subject matter from a light-hearted and universally relevant topic: bodily elimination. Developed in collaboration with scientists, artists and game designers, it’s not only fun, but also educational and scientifically valid.

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Game designer Ben Norskov playing his hand

People need water every day for a variety of uses. In the game, players compete to deplete the least amount of water by getting hands of cards that satisfy the four categories: washing, bathing, outdoor use and flushing toilets. If they fail to get enough water for any of the categories, they are penalized for the amount of human waste they have left, or become more unhealthy. If a player becomes too unhealthy, or has too much waste, s/he is eliminated from the game. The last player in the game who still has water wins.

The winning strategy is to carefully balance your water usage against your opponents’. Players may want to end a round early because their opponents have hands of cards that waste lots of water, or gradually reduce their water usage to almost nothing. The cards that help players to win describe real-life water practices connecting the joy of winning with efficient water usage. The learning moments in The Process of Elimination are worked seamlessly into the mechanics of the game, so the winning strategy involves learning about a pragmatic water usage strategy.

The Process of Elimination was developed during an October 2012 game jam and charrette organized by Artists in Context at Boston University, funded by the Barr Foundation and the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre. The multidisciplinary team who developed the game idea consisted of scientists Nathan Phillips and Vandana Rao, policy makers John Bolduc and Claire Ricker, geographer and artist Marie Cieri and game designer Ben Norskov. The Process of Elimination is an unusual game in that in addition to being fun it’s also credible due to its creators’ expertise in the fields of science, social science and public policy.


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Scientists Vandana Rao and Nathan

Phillips mull over game strategy

Game pieces

Ben Norskov’s notebook

The Process of Elimination: Eliminate Wisely, or Be Eliminated